The University of Victoria Vikes had a lot to celebrate following the July 26 closing ceremonies of the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Ont. Twenty-one former or current Vikes competed in the games across five different sports most getting on the podium in a year where Canada broke its Pan Am record-winning 78 gold medals with a total of 217 medals.
To start off the games a long list of Vikes helped Canada defend the title for the men’s rugby sevens. Late heroics from Harry Jones lifted the Canadians up 22-19 over Argentina to claim gold and secure a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Vikes Nathan Hirayama, Sean Duke, Phil Mack, John Moonlight, Justin Douglas, Mike Fuailefau and Lucas Hammond were all a part of the team.
On the water Vikes rowers helped Canada win five medals, all of which were gold. Former Vike Kai Langerfeld won gold in both the coxless four and the eights. Coxswain and current Vike Jacob Koudys was also a part of the golden eights crew. Nicholas Pratt helped Canada win gold in the lightweight four in 6:42.40. Former Vike Saul Garcia helped Canada to a fifth-place finish in the lightweight double with crew mate Mark Henry.
In women’s rowing, Antje Von Seydlitz topped the podium twice, first in the women’s double in 7:13.01 and again in the quad in 7:07.63.
In swimming former Vike Ryan Cochrane set a new Pan American record in the 400-m and 1500-m freestyle, while topping the podium in both events. Cochrane finished the 1500-m in 15:06.40 and completed the 400-m in 3:48.29. Alec Page and Cochrane took home a bronze in the 4x200-m relay alongside team mates Stefan Milosevic and Jeremy Bagshaw. Hilary Caldwell won gold in the 200-m backstroke and also set a new Pan Am record of 2:08.22.
Former Vikes cross-country and track runner Ellen Pennock competed in the women’s triathlon. Pennock was the top Canadian finishing sixth overall in 1:58.24 just 1:24 behind the leader, Barbara Riveros of Chile.
On the pitch, former Vikes Kaitlyn Williams, Thea Culley and Danielle Hennig guided a young Canadian women’s field hockey team to its first Pan Am medal since 1999. Following a disappointing fourth-place finish in 2011, the Canadians came back to rival their opponents Chile, winning 1-0 in the bronze-medal match. Hennig and Culley were vice captains on the team, while Williams back-stopped the team in goal in all six matches.
In men’s field hockey former Vikes Brenden Bissett and Matthew Sarmento helped earned Canada a spot back on the Olympic stage. Following a thrilling shoot-out win in the semifinals against Brazil, Canada booked their ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics while also qualifying for the Pan American Games gold-medal game for the 11th consecutive year. Despite falling 3-0 to a powerful Argentina team in the final, Bissett, Sarmento and team Canada left Toronto with a silver medal and the gratification of earning an Olympic berth.
For more information on the Pan Am / Para Pan Am Games, visit toronto2015.org.