The Pan American games (Pan Am Games) are held every four years in the year preceding the Olympic Games. In terms of the number of sports and athletes, the Pan American Games are second in size only to the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) created the Pan American games to help the American countries be more competitive. The games are managed by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) that was established in 1955.
The first Games were scheduled to be staged in Buenos Aires in 1942, but World War II caused them to be postponed until February 25, 1951, in Buenos Aires, with 2,513 athletes from 22 countries participating in 18 sports. Since then, the games have been hosted by various countries, with participation at the most recent event in 2007 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with over 5,633 athletes from 42 countries.
Trinidad and Tobago has been participating in the Pan American games since 1951. At the first games, Rodney Wilkes claimed Gold in Weightlifting while Carl De Souza and Lennox Kilgour both won Silver. James Jackson walked the 50 k race and won Silver.
The Pan American Games have been growing in size and importance with every edition of the event.
In less than half a century, the event has doubled in number of countries, athletes, and sports, becoming one of the main events in the world's sports calendar.
The next event will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011 with athletes participating in 30 sports.
PAN AMERICAN WINTER GAMES
There have been attempts to hold Pan American Winter Games as well, but these have been without much success. An initial attempt to hold winter events was made by the organizers of the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, who planned to stage winter events later in the year but dropped the idea for lack of interest.
Lake Placid, New York, tried to organize Winter Games in 1959, but again not enough countries expressed interest and the plans were canceled.
In 1988, members of PASO voted to hold the first Pan American Winter Games at Las Leñas, Argentina in September 1989. It was further agreed that Winter Games would be held every four years. Lack of snow forced postponement of the games until September 16–22, 1990, when eight countries sent 97 athletes to Las Lenas. Of that total, 76 were from just three countries: Argentina, Canada, and the United States. Weather was unseasonably warm and again there was little snow, so only three Alpine Skiing events—the Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Super G—were staged. The U.S. and Canada combined to win all 18 medals.
PASO awarded the second Pan American Winter Games to Santiago, Chile for 1993.
The United States warned that it would not take part unless a full schedule of events was held. The Santiago organizing committee eventually gave up and the idea has not been revived since.
PAN AMERICAN HOST COUNTRIES
Games Year Host
I 1951 Buenos Aires, Argentina
II 1955 Mexico City, Mexico
III 1959 Chicago, United States
IV 1963 São Paulo, Brazil
V 1967 Winnipeg, Canada
VI 1971 Cali, Colombia
VII 1975 Mexico City, Mexico
VIII 1979 San Juan, Puerto Rico
IX 1983 Caracas, Venezuela
X 1987 Indianapolis, United States
XI 1991 Havana, Cuba
XII 1995 Mar del Plata, Argentina
XIII 1999 Winnipeg, Canada
XIV 2003 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
XV 2007 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
XVI 2011 Guadalajara, Mexico
XVII 2015 Toronto, Canada