Remembering the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games
It was a few months ago but the memories of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games are still alive across the University of Toronto and the entire GTA.
The university’s Governing Council recently relived some incredible moments as athletes reflected on the legacy of the games.
Four U of T athletes were on hand – three in person and one on video.
U of T alumnus Zack Chetrat, who won a bronze medal in the 200-metre butterfly, told governors competing close to home made the 2015 games an unforgettable experience.
“On the night of my race, I looked up into the crowd and saw my entire family and all my friends,” said Chetrat, who spoke via video from the pool deck at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) on the UTSC campus. “To see a bunch of my teammates there, all wearing their U of T gear and cheering me on, was something very special.”
Shelley Gautier, a 12-time Paracycling Road World Champion and a repeat silver medalist in the event this year (she also won silver at Guadalajara in 2011 and is training for next year’s Paralympics) showed off a picture of her medal. Her mother had the real thing and was getting it and all of her medals framed to occupy a prominent place in the family home.
Pole vaulter Jason Wurster, whose games and summer were made particularly memorable by the arrival of a baby boy, and current world champion beach volleyball player Josh Binstock, who’s training for next year’s Olympics, talked about how exhilarating it was to play in front of a home town crowd – a rarity for athletes who regularly compete at venues around the world.
Beyond the memories, one consistent theme was the importance of the legacy left behind by the 2015 games.
“Most dramatically, we improved significantly the facilities for co-curricular sport, physical activity, recreation, health and wellness for members of our internal and external community,” said U of T President Meric Gertler, pointing to TPASC, the UTSC Tennis Centre, the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport and the Back Campus Fields. “These facilities are also conducive to better teaching, research and community engagement in sport as well as basic sciences, such as stress physiology and cell biology.”
Former Lieutenant-Governor David Onley, was the university’s Special Ambassador to the games.
“One of the most remarkable success stories from the Games was their integration,” said Onley. “They were fully accessible to all: to the athletes who came to Toronto to compete, to the spectators who came to cheer them on.”
U of T facilities were host to some of Canada’s best athletes – a fact confirmed by the medal count. At UTSC venues, Team Canada won 140 medals. The games also provided a venue for the university to welcome the Americas and the community. U of T Houses at UTSC and the downtown Toronto campus hosted almost 3700 guests over the course of the games. More than 20 U of T athletes participated in the games.