3:05 pm
20 Jun 2024

Colombia Deny Canada Pan Am Games Gold Double

20 Jul 2007

Colombia celebrate their historic Pan Am Games gold medal!

Colombia maintained their giant-killing run in the Pan American Games to deny Canada double squash gold in the team events at the Miécimo da Silva Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Colombia beat Canada 2/0 in the men's final to win gold for the first time, while Canada defeated USA 2/1 in a dramatic women's final to reclaim the title lost to USA in the 2003 final in the Dominican Republic.

It was a sensational performance by fourth seeds Colombia who reached the men's event final for the first time by upsetting favourites Mexico - led by individual gold medallist Eric Galvez - in the semi-finals.

Javier Castilla Conde, a 26-year-old from Bogotá ranked 229 in the world, put Colombia in the lead when he beat Canada's world No77 Robin Clarke, a 21-year-old 'veteran' of more than 30 PSA Tour events, 9-2, 0-9, 10-9, 9-3 in 51 minutes.

But it was top string Miguel Angel Rodriguez who was the hero for Colombia. The 21-year-old, also from Bogotá, recovered from a nervous start against Shahier Razik to beat the 2006 gold medallist 0-9, 10-9, 9-4, 9-7 in 94 minutes - appropriately the longest match of the tournament.

Toronto-based Razik, ranked 20 places higher than his Colombian opponent, was no match for the in-form Rodriguez who broke into the world top 50 this month to become the highest-ranked player from his country.

"This is an historic moment for Colombia," said Sergio Rodriguez, President of the Federacion Panamericana de Squash, who is also Treasurer of the Colombian NOC. "Squash has grown exponentially in the last ten years but this gold has come four years earlier than expected. Sardar Khan instilled belief in our teams and I am immensely proud of their performance, both Men and Women.

"Gold, the metal for which we were discovered, is again part of history; this time with Squash," Rodriguez added. "What a triumph to continue the winning vein of 2007: Champions at the South American Junior Championships, Champions at the South American Championships (seniors) and now Gold at the Pan American Games of the Olympic cycle. The triumphs in Rio fill the Colombian Squash community with joy and give us momentum to further our commitment towards youth."

Among those watching the men's final was Andres Botero, the President of the CNOC who was elected as an IOC Member two weeks ago.

The women's final was also an upset, with Carolyn Russell opening up an impressive lead for third seeds Canada when she beat Michelle Quibell 3-9, 9-2, 9-4, 9-5. Favourites USA struck back in convincing fashion as individual Pan Am Games gold medallist Natalie Grainger extended her unbeaten Rio run to seven matches with a 9-2, 9-0, 9-4 victory over Canadian Runa Reta in just 22 minutes.

The decider saw surprise 2007 individual silver medallist Alana Miller overcome USA's 2003 gold medal winner Latasha Khan, ranked 14 places higher in the world, 9-7, 9-5, 10-8 in 43 minutes to clinch a memorable triumph for Canada.

"The Pan American Games Rio 2007 have been a resounding success for Squash," added World Squash Federation Chief Executive Christian Leighton. "The passion and commitment that I've witnessed from athletes, referees and administrators shows how much this competition means to them.

"WSF is very grateful to Mario Vazquez Rana, President of the Pan American Sports Organisation (PASO), and the CORIO for hosting our event. The spread of gold medals shows how competition is really heating up in the region. The four golds on offer went to four different countries (Mexico, USA, Canada and Colombia). We very much look forward to Guadalajara 2011."

Men's final:
[4] COLOMBIA bt [2] CANADA 2-0

Javier Castilla Conde bt Robin Clarke 9-2, 0-9, 10-9, 9-3 (51m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez bt Shahier Razik 0-9, 10-9, 9-4, 9-7 (94m)
Bernardo Samper v Shawn Delierre (dead rubber - match not played)

Women's final:
[3] CANADA bt [1] USA 2-1

Carolyn Russell bt Michelle Quibell 3-9, 9-2, 9-4, 9-5 (35m)
Runa Reta lost to Natalie Grainger 2-9, 0-9, 4-9 (22m)
Alana Miller bt Latasha Khan 9-7, 9-5, 10-8 (43m)