I had the privilege of going to watch the team event the other day at the PanAm games and I had a blast. What an atmosphere at the event! I am Canadian and to have the games in our own country and so close to home for me was a real treat. The patriotism in the crowd was amazing. Trying to get a seat anywhere near where the Canadian teams were playing was definitely tough but worth the time.
I went to see one of the qualifying rounds of the team event. The men’s team were playing Colombia and the women’s team playing Brazil. The women’s team consisting of Samantha Cornett, Nikole Todd and Hollie Naughton had no real problem dispatching the Brazilian team but the men were in very tough against Colombia. The Canadian team consisted of Shawn Delierre, Graham Schnell and Andrew Schnell. The Colombian team featured Miguel Rodriguez, Juan Vargas and Andres Herrera.
I was really excited to get to see Miguel play as he was the highest ranking professional player at the games and is such a pleasure to watch. I was of course cheering for Shawn but had not really expected Shawn to really pressure Miguel too much. I was mistaken though as the match ended up going to 5. Shawn played some tremendous squash to win the first and third games and was close in the second and fourth as well. The fifth game though Miguel Rodrigues put the pedal down and showed why he is #4 in the world presently. That put Canada down one match and definitely put the pressure on the Schnell brothers.
Graeme Schnell was next on court against Juan Vargas. The first game was extremely tightly contested going to extra points. Juan Vargas won the first game putting further pressure on the Graeme. Graeme came back strong though in the second and third games. They were both close games but Graeme was able to win both putting the pressure back on Juan. Juan handled the pressure quite well in the fourth game though winning a tight one 11-9 to level the match at 2 games each. Graeme must have been feeling the pressure at this point as though this was only a pool match and the team did not face elimination but I am sure they wanted to win the match and get the best seeding they could going in the quarter finals. Graeme came out very strong in the final game and really put Juan Vargas under pressure. Graeme got out to a good lead when Juan did not like a decision that was made and had a lengthy discussion with the referee about it. He also ended up with a small cut at the same time and took an injury time-out. I was certainly worried that break might change the momentum of the game but it proved to not be an issue for Graeme at all. He quickly won a couple of more points and Juan Vargas seemed to be suffering from cramps in his leg. Graeme closed it out and levelled the Canada vs Colombia match at one game each.
Next up was Graeme’s brother Andrew Schnell facing Andres Herrera. Herrera never looked quite settled in this match. He could not seem to deal with the pace of play that Andrew was playing at. The incredible retrieving of Andrew Schnell was also causing Andres to be quite frustrated. He put his hand up many times signalling a double bounce but Andrew had picked the ball up cleanly. I think it was more out of disbelief than anything that Herrera was questioning if Andrew got the ball. The crowd certainly was amazed at some of the retrievals Andrew made. Andrew never really looked to be in any serious jeopardy in this match winning 11-2, 11-7 and 11-4 to win his match and secure the 2-1 victory for Canada over Colombia.
I had a great night watching the matches and it was also very nice to get to see Samantha Cornett whom we sponsor and Chris Hanson from the USA that we sponsor as well. Both won medals, Samantha winning two silver and one bronze medal and Chris winning two bronze medals.
Congratulations to the Canadian team on winning 6 medals overall. They won 1 gold medal, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals. The Canadian men’s team picked up the gold with an incredible victory in the team event against Mexico. Both the men’s and women’s teams picked up silver in the doubles. Samantha Cornett and Shawn Delierre both picked up bronze medals in the individual event.