altAfter 17 days of intense competition in Mexico, it was rather sad watching the Closing Ceremony last night bring proceedings at the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games to a conclusion.

In keeping with everything that has embodied the competition, the Ceremony at the Omnilife Stadium was full of the passion, colour and excitement that made it a spectacle to remember.

In addition, it even featured a brilliantly surreal performance from Puerto Rican pop singer Ricky Martin who bought the house down with the iconic 1999 single "Livin' la Vida Loca".

But for me, the telling moment came when Emilio Gonzalez Marquez, the President of the Guadalajara 2011 Organising Committee and Governor of Jalisco, took to the microphone and roared to the people of Guadalajara that, "Now we go for the Olympics."

By all accounts, his statement was not just an exaggerated war cry designed to fire up the 50,000 crowd but actually a major strategic goal for Guadalajara following the near $1 billion (£620 million/€718 million) invested to improve sports infrastructure, build the Athletes' Village and actually stage the Pan American Games in the city.

Having just missed the deadline to put forward a bid for the 2020 Olympics, 2024 now seems like the likely bet for a Guadalajara Olympic bid.

So could they do it?

Well certainly not tomorrow. But 2024 would perhaps be a realistic timeframe to get things ready in the city and prove to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they could stage its blue-ribbon competition.

After all, a bid is one thing, a winning bid is a whole different story.

But Guadalajara will draw strength from Rio de Janeiro, who used their impressive staging of the 2007 Pan American Games as the platform for their successful 2016 Olympic and Paralympic bid in Copenhagen in October 2009.

Certainly the foundations for a great Olympics are in Guadalajara.

altIt features superb sports facilities, hundreds of hotels, designer shops, a huge range of restaurants, great weather and a very charming Mexican 'look and feel' that is a very welcoming for any visitor.

But they do have one obvious Achilles Heel.

It doesn't appear to be security, which ran extremely smoothly despite prior concerns, and it isn't contaminated meat in Mexico containing the illegal drug clenbuterol as so far not one athlete at the Pan American Games has tested positive for the substance - although admittedly every precaution was taken by the 42 nations in order to avoid the occurrence and the meat was escorted into the Athletes' Village by armed police guard.

No; it is that dreaded "T" word again. Traffic.

Crossing the busy road in Guadalajara is an achievement in itself and getting a bus to and from a venue is a long, gruelling process that will take up a minimum of half your day if you are lucky to miss the congested areas – which appear to be everywhere.

There is no respite at night either, when the volume of cars on the road somehow manages to increase.

It is the problem of traffic that London are becoming increasing concerned about with the 2012 Games looming ever closer and I was not at all surprised to see numerous representative of the London Organising Committee out and about in Mexico.

After all, the 2011 Pan American Games provided the last chance for London 2012 to see a major multi-sport event in action and learn from its mistakes.

Well, there is the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympics in January but is debatable how much London will learn, operationally, from staging a winter sport event for 14-to-18-year-olds.

So any accurate report heading back from Guadalajara to the London 2012 HQ in Canary Wharf will highlight the traffic problem at the event and suggest yet again that the English capital continue their commendable efforts to minimise disruption next year.

The IOC have for a long time highlighted the issue as London's bid hurdle and it is becoming a much more prominent feature in the media as the 2012 Countdown Clock in Trafalgar Square keeps ticking towards D-Day.

London actually has major advantages over Guadalajara when it comes to transport in terms of a tube system they promise will be uninterrupted during the Games, the Javelin Train - which will get from central London to the Olympic Park in seven minutes - and walk and cycle ways across the city that are being heavily invested in before next summer.

However, doubts remain over how successful the controversial Olympic Route Network (ORN) will be in full operation complete with the controversial, designated lanes for athletes, the media and VIP officials.

Given that London's roads are already full to the brim, closing off large parts of the capital's existing roads spells disaster on paper.

Undoubtedly huge thought and planning has already gone into the plan but the issue can never be investigated too much and right until the last possible second, organisers must continue to address the topic to ensure that the problem does not unfairly dominate the headlines.

After all, Guadalajara 2011 showed exactly how irritatingly disappointing it can be when a huge major sporting celebration has the dampeners put on it simply due to the fact that getting from A to B is a major hassle.


By Tom Degun

altGUADALAJARA, Mexico, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Two interception tries from Conor Trainor spurred Canada to a 26-24 upset victory over Argentina in the gold medal match in the inaugural rugby sevens tournament at the Pan-American Games on Sunday.

The two-point winning margin ultimately derived from Nathan Hirayama's fine conversion kick from the left touchline after Canada's first try but it was Trainor's successful forays into the Argentina backline that kept his team in the match.

"This time last year he was on the fringe of going to the World Cup and he's just come back from the World Cup (where he) scored two tries against New Zealand. Now he's got a gold medal here," Canada coach Geraint John said of Trainor after the medal ceremony.

"He's a very instinctive player ... Sometimes as a coach we tell them not to do it because it can put us out of our structure, but it worked," John added.

The curly-haired, 21-year-old Trainor said: "I'm sure the coaches were pretty unhappy while I was running but I'm sure their hearts lifted when they saw me catch the ball and go in."

Rugby, which has also been played at the Commonwealth Games, will return to the Olympic Games in the sevens format at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The United States, last winners of the Olympic gold medal in rugby in Paris in 1924, were third at the Pan-American Games after beating Uruguay 21-17 for the bronze medal.

In the gold medal final, favourites Argentina went ahead with a converted try under the posts by Gabriel Azcarate with John Moonlight touching down in the left corner in a Canadian breakaway and Hirayama converting to put the teams level at 7-7.

Francisco Cuneo crossed to give Argentina a 12-7 lead at the interval but Moonlight scored his second try soon after the restart and Trainor's first intercept gave Canada the lead for the first time.

Replacement Ramiro Moyano scored under the posts at the other end and Gonzalo Gutierrez converted to put Argentina level again at 19-19.

But Trainor, who scored his two tries against eventual champions New Zealand in a pool match at the World Cup, made another interception when Argentina lost possession in a tackle.

Hirayama's conversion gave them a seven-point cushion going into the final seconds.

Argentina kept the ball in play after the siren and replacement Joaquin Luccheti went over for their last, potentially match-saving try but Gutierrez failed to slot in the conversion from out on the left where Hirayama had been successful earlier.

"In the last couple of years we've been losing games we were in the other team with by two, three points, often that came down to a conversion so we've worked on it a bit," an elated Hirayama said.

Argentina's coach Nicolas Fernandez Lobbe, middle brother of Pumas Ignacio and Juan Martin, said his team had lost because of their own mistakes.

"We had two errors, two interceptions in moments when we had got on top. I think that affected us, but we played badly, I think we lost it," Fernandez Lobbe told Reuters.

Asked if Argentina's game was easy to read, he said: "That's how to play sevens, especially a final when there's a lot of fatigue, you have to focus more on the system.

"In fact, (Hirayama's first) conversion, which scraped over 'asking for permission', cost us the match."



By Rex Gowar

altThe inaugural Pan American Games rugby competition at the Tlaquepaque Stadium, Guadalajara, was deemed an instant success.
After 12 grueling, action-packed matches under the heavy Mexican sun, every one of the eight competing teams made rugby history as Sevens was first played in a multi-sport event in the Americas.
“Rugby being played in the Pan American Games is superb for everybody involved and for the future of the game in the whole continent,” said a delighted IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset. “The level of support was very positive to see and we are playing in a rugby field that will be one of the legacies for Mexican Rugby.”
Canada proved the team to beat after a solid opening day with three victories from their three matches. With eight players that were in Rugby World Cup 2011 a month ago, their physicality was too strong for their Pool Aopponents.
Against a Brazilian team that got better during the day, the Canadians scored seven unanswered tries to win 45-0 before beating Chile 35-7.
The big pool match was against neighbours USA however and a 29-21 victory. “It is always an important game for us, but with the added incentive that they are a core team at the HSBC Sevens World Series, it is important for us to show we can beat them,” said Nathan Hirayama, at 23 a veteran of the Canadian.
USA found the opening day tough – they had to work hard for their opening 14-7 win against Chile and then drew with Brazil 19-19, coming back from a half time 12-5 deficit and were not able to close the match down.
Brazil, who earlier in the year shocked the rugby world by beating Argentina in the South American Sevens, recovered from the heavy early loss to draw with the USA with the last move of the game.
From a tap penalty, Felipe Silva ran in an angle to wrong-foot the defence to score close to the posts. Lucas ‘Tank’ Duque scored the goal to draw the game. They then went on to defeat Chile 14-7, showing maturity to control a hard opponent.
Argentina top Pool B
In Pool B Argentina showed signs of an improved team in winning its three games despite an early scare against Mexico.
The home team, basking in the excitement of playing in the newest of rugby venues in their country, drew first blood when Pascal Nadaud scored in the second minute. The almost capacity crowd erupted in celebration; despite not being to sustain the lead against a Nicolás Bruzzone-led team that won 26-5, the Mexican display was heartening.
The Argentines went on to beat Guyana 40-0 in a six-try display and worked hard against bitter rivals and neighbours Uruguay.
“This is a process and we are getting better with each game,” said hooker Santiago Bottini. “We are here to win the Gold Medal and were going step by step. Whoever we play will be hard.”
The Uruguayans, with a team that included a few “veterans” of IRB age grade tournaments, beat Mexico and Guyana by similar scores – 20-0 and 22-0. They failed against Argentina but still took a lot of positives from their 10-26 loss.
Mexico had their moment during the opening day’s matches, being a headache for Argentina and Uruguay. Against Guyana, the qualifier from the NACRA regional sevens and a must win game, they were unable to control their anxiety and lost by the narrow margin of 12-5.
Sunday will open with quarter-finals and will then move on to medal matches.



Emmanuel Callender will bid for precious metal in the men's 100 metres final, at the Pan American Games, in Guadalajara, Mexico, today.

Callender booked his lane in the final when he finished second in semi-final number two, at the Telmex Athletics Stadium, yesterday.

The Trinidad and Tobago sprinter clocked 10.17 seconds.

St Kitts and Nevis track star Kim Collins topped the field in 10.00.

In the first semi-final, Jamaica's reigning Commonwealth Games champion Lerone Clarke won in 10.17.

In the opening round, Callender topped heat two in 10.13 seconds. However, his T&T teammate Darrel Brown could only finish fifth in heat three in 10.63, and did not advance to the semis.

Quincy Wilson was listed for action in yesterday's men's discus event. However, the 20-year-old T&T field athlete did not compete.

In gymnastics, T&T's Thema Williams finished 40th overall in the women's qualifying competition, yesterday. She scored 12.375 in the vault, 11.350 in the uneven bars, 11.050 in the floor exercise and 10.825 in the balance beam, for a total of 45.600.

Williams' best finish was in the uneven bars. She was 34th. The T&T gymnast finished 46th in the balance beam and 48th in both the vault and floor exercise.

Williams did not advance to the all-around final, and is not among the finalists in any of the apparatuses. She is the first reserve in the all-round final.

T&T's hockey men lost 3-1 to Chile, yesterday, and did not advance to the semi-final round. T&T finished third in Group A.

Chile went ahead in the 15th minute, Jan Christian Richter scoring from a penalty corner. Atiba Whittington equalised for T&T in the 36th. But thanks to Sven Thomas Richter, Chile were back in front 15 minutes later. And in the 65th minute, Martin Hernan Rodriguez sealed the result.

Canada topped Group A, and Chile finished second.

In the men's football tournament, T&T take on Uruguay at 11 o'clock this morning (T&T time) in their final Group A fixture.

Following 1-1 draws with Mexico and Ecuador, today's game is a must-win for T&T.

Full points would move T&T into second spot, behind Mexico, earning the "Young Soca Warriors" a semi-final berth. A draw or loss, however, and the Uruguayans would secure a spot in the last four.

By Kwame Laurence


Trinidad and Tobago's Under-23 footballers kept alive their hopes of progressing to the Pan American Games semi-finals when they held Ecuador to a 1-1 draw yesterday at the Omnilife Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico.

But the T&T hockey women lost their final match of the group phase against Canada 2-1 despite taking the early lead at the Pan Am Hockey Stadium.

It took the "Soca Stickwomen" just seven minutes to get on the scoresheet, Arielle Ramchand- Du Quesnay doing the job from the field, an advantage they took to the break.

But T&T had just three shots at goal to the Canadians' 24 attempts and that pressure told in the end, as Brienne Stairs (61st minute) and Katherine Gillis (68th) scored late field goals to hand the North Americans victory.

For the young "Soca Warriors", second half-substitute Trevin Caesar spanked a volley beyond Ecuador goalkeeper Sebastian Jaramillo off a pass by Jamal Gay in the 69th minute, just one minute after being introduced by coach Angus Eve.

Before that goal, Trinidad and Tobago were 1-0 down to the South Americans, who took the lead in the 17th minute through Michael Jackson Quinonez.

The result means that Ecuador are out of the tournament and T&T now need victory against Uruguay tomorrow in order to advance to the final four.

Mexico lead T&T's group with four points from two matches after a 1-1 draw with T&T and a 2-1 win over Ecuador. Uruguay beat Ecuador 1-0 and were scheduled to face Mexico late yesterday.

Caesar was happy with the team's performance after getting a point against Ecuador.

"Today we showed again that we could compete and we have a fighting spirit in the team. The coach gave us instructions and we went out there and tried to deliver," the young forward told T&T Football Federation media officer Shaun Fuentes.

"Scoring here in Mexico to help us get a point is a marvellous feeling for me," Caesar added, "but it's a reward for the whole team effort."

As he waited on the ball from Gay, Caesar said he just tried to keep calm and place the ball well. That shot keeps T&T's fate in their own hands and the striker is looking forward to the next match.

"We have everything to play for in the next game," he added, "and we can do it."

Today, Trinidad and Tobago's hockey men meet Chile with a spot in the final four on the line. T&T previously lost 7-2 to Canada, but thumped Barbados 11-1.

T&T football squad vs Ecuador: Andre Marchan, Kareem Moses (Jeromie Williams), Aquil Selby, Joevin Jones, Leslie Russell, Mekeil Williams, Sheldon Bateau, Jayson Joseph, Kevin Molino, Micah Lewis (Trevin Caesar, 68th), Jamal Gay (Marcus Joseph, 79th).