Toronto, Ontario, Canada will host the 17th Pan American Games from July 10 to July 26. The Pan American Games are the world’s third largest sporting competition after the Olympic and Commonwealth Games and are held every four years after the Commonwealths and before the Olympics. Belize’s delegation is en route to the Games at this hour. Lead officials are President of the Olympic Committee Hilly Martinez, Vice-President Owen “Sonny” Meighan and General Secretary Yolanda Fonseca leaves today, headed by Chief of Mission Allan Sharp and athletics delegate Deon Sutherland are also attending. But the number of participating athletes are just three – one of the smallest delegations in a while. Amed Figueroa represents Belize in triathlon from July 11 and 12 while sprinters Kaina Martinez and Mark Anderson will run the 100 metres. We asked Meighan about the small size of the delegation at the Philip Goldson International Airport and he says the level of competition has risen.
Owen “Sonny” Meighan – “You see, these Pan-Am Games, they’re getting a bit stricter but you have to qualify really. To a certain time or a certain length in the jump or throwing the javelin and it’s getting harder and harder for us. Luckily, our committee has just got some equipment for the track team and so with this new equipment they have gotten, I’m sure it’ll help improve them. We’re getting some coaches coming in for them. And also, we have made the offer to all the other associations.”
Reporter – “So, it’s not so much a matter of finance than it is the qualifying times and so are getting tougher to –”
Owen “Sonny” Meighan – “Qualifying times. Finance does play a big part because these athletes need to go and compete against other athletes but without the finance for that all the time. But yes, the equipment’s going to help.”
Meighan noted that the Athletics Association has received a donation of equipment for the dedicated athletes and coaching training will be made available this summer.
Martinez attends Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas and will travel from there to Toronto, while Sutherland and Anderson will leave Belize next week. Only Figueroa, a first-time participant in Belize’s first appearance in this event at these games, accompanied Meighan to the Airport today. He told us how he got started in triathlon and his goals for this prestigious competition.
Amed Figueroa – Athlete, Triathlon – “Well, I went for camp in Ecuador last year with some athletes from other countries and coaches from other countries and also the Lion Man, I did the Lion Man last year in Belize City and some other local events. I’m a bit nervous; it’s the first time I’m competing internationally. So, competing with the big guns out there it’s really – my goal right now is to go out there and give my all and I’ll see how that turns out but I just want to go and make Belize proud, try to make everyone proud.”
Belize has never won an individual medal in any of the major world games but the women’s softball team holds Belize’s only medals in international competition in these Games, taking bronze in 1979 and 1983.