Half­way mark

Chef de mis­sion Curt Har­nett thrilled with Canada’s per­for­mance in Week 1

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY LORI EWING THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Curt Har­nett’s voice was raspy, so he was try­ing to take it easy over the week­end. He hiked up and down the stairs at Var­sity Sta­dium, toss­ing pins into the crowd at the Pan Amer­i­can Games archery com­pe­ti­tion, in be­tween wav­ing a huge Cana­dian flag.

But Canada’s chef de mis­sion — and the team’s head cheer­leader — was oth­er­wise keep­ing quiet.

“Still able to talk (barely), which is a good thing,” Har­nett said. “I hit it hard. Of course wa­ter polo started on the Wed­nes­day be­fore the open­ing cer­e­monies, and I kind of maybe over­did it a lit­tle bit.

“I’ve had a cou­ple of days where I’ve tried to stay quiet, and the crowd’s do­ing their job. But I can’t con­tain my­self, I’m emo­tion­ally in­vested in all of this, the suc­cess of our ath­letes is im­por­tant to me as a per­son, it’s a sense of pride that I can’t seem to shake.”

A lit­tle over a week into the Pan Amer­i­can Games, there has been plenty of rea­son to be proud and vo­cal.

Canada topped the medal ta­ble through most of Week 1 be­fore fall­ing to sec­ond Satur­day night.

The United States led with 50 gold and 135 to­tal medals. Canada had 48 gold and 122 medals through Satur­day. Brazil was a dis­tant third in both, with 28 gold and 86 medals over­all.

But Canada boosted its gold medal to­tal to 52 head­ing into Sun­day’s late evening events.

Evan Dun­fee started things off with gold in the men’s 20-kilo­me­tre race walk. His team­mate Inaki Gomez cap­tured the sil­ver.

Canada had another one-two fin­ish in the women’s track cy­cling sprint, with Monique Sul­li­van de­feat­ing fel­low Cal­gary cy­clist Kate O’Brien in the fi­nal.

Jazmyne Den­hol­lan­der pad­dled to gold in the women’s K1 white­wa­ter kayak, and Olympic cham­pion Rosie Ma­cLen­nan de­fended her Pan Am ti­tle in women’s trampoline.

The Cana­di­ans, who came in with a goal of a top-two fin­ish, have never won the Pan Am Games. Canada’s best fin­ish was sec­ond in Win­nipeg in 1967. But as the host coun­try, Canada com­piled its largest — and ar­guably strong­est — team ever, of 719 ath­letes, and the re­sults are show­ing.

“The per­for­mance of the team is on par with what our tar­gets were. . . and of course know­ing that, with the num­ber of ath­letes that we were bring­ing, specif­i­cally A team ath­letes, that per­for­mance on the field of play would be top shelf and put them on the podium,” said Har­nett, a three-time Olympic medal­list in track cy­cling.

“I think the more ex­cit­ing thing is the ath­letes who have risen to the oc­ca­sion, have taken ad­van­tage of the home court, home­field ad­van­tage and the home crowd, and raised their game, and cap­tured gold medals,” he added. “So it’s a great com­bi­na­tion.”

CP PHOTO

Canada’s Evan Dun­fee re­acts as he crosses the fin­ish to win the men’s 20km race walk at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Ont., Sun­day.

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