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ost top athletes participate in many events before they reach the highest level of competition. The Pan American Games is an important milestone in an athlete’s career. The Pan American Games is the world’s third largest international multisport games occurring every four years. Canada has had the privilege of hosting the Games twice; both times in Winnipeg, MB. In 2015, Canada will have a third shot at hosting the Games; this time with events happening in our own backyard. Toronto, ON., will be the official host of the Games and will utilize many venues in different cities across southern Ontario. Approximately 400 events in 36 sports will take place between July 10th to 26th and the Parapan Am Games from August 7th to 15th. “In the Pan Am Games, there are a few different sports that are not in the Olympics such as bowling, karate, racquetball and wakeboarding,” says Mike Strange, former Pan American Games athlete and Olympic boxer. “It makes them distinct from other competitions.” “The vibe of the Pan Am Games is just like the Olympics. You get to experience the same jitters and excitement of an opening ceremony. For a boxer, the Pan Am Games is probably the toughest games, other than the Olympics, because of the incredible talent from Cuba and the United States,” states Strange. Mike has a positive outlook for Canada’s success at the 2015 Pan American Games. “I look forward to seeing the athletes compete for gold in our community,” says Strange. One of the venues for the Games in the Niagara area will be the Welland International Flatwater Centre. The centre will host canoe and kayak sprinting. The Welland Canal is a man-made passageway that enables cargo ships to transport goods between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The Canal is an important part of the St. Lawrence Seaway as it moves ships up and down the escarpment through a series of locks. Several decades ago, an area of the canal in Welland, was rerouted, leaving the old shipping lane perfect for flatwater sports and competitions. Since construction, this section of the Canal has been used by the city and its members to compete and train in the areas of swimming, sculling, canoe polo, kayaking, dragon boat, triathlon, canoeing and water polo. The City of Welland has been working diligently to upgrade the facility in preparation for the Games. Efforts include widening a section of the canal and building a timing tower, an athletic centre and permanent seating for 500 spectators. With ten million dollars of upgrades, the Welland International Flatwater Centre will now provide an off season location perfect for training. “The addition of the only multisport moving water training tank in Canada provides for a unique legacy opportunity. Owning the podium starts in Welland and every Canadian athlete participating in a flatwater sport will make their way to the Olympics, World Championships, Pan American Games and podium via the Flatwater Centre,” says Stephen Fischer, Executive Director of the Welland Recreational Canal Corporation and Welland International Flatwater Centre. “We look forward to welcoming the Toronto 2015 Pan Am athletes to our state-ofthe art facility, renowned as one of the fairest and fastest canoe kayak courses in the world. Dating back over a century, Welland has a rich history of flatwater sports and because of our newly completed International Flatwater Centre, an incredible future in these sports. It is truly a world class facility where the unique characteristics of Welland’s waterway will give every athlete the chance to make their dream of standing on the medal podium a reality,” states Barry Sharpe, Mayor of the City of Welland. Only a short drive from Welland to St. Catharines, one can find the calm waters of the Martindale Pond, home of the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course. The Henley is no stranger to the thrill of competition as it has hosted several rowing events and North America’s largest annual rowing regatta. The Henley’s storied history made it a natural choice as the site for 14 rowing competitions. In preparation for the Games, upgrades will be made to the main bridge that connects the rowing facility to the mainland. The summer of 2015 will be an exhilarating one for both residents and tourists of the Niagara Region as they welcome hundreds of athletes and thousands of visitors. Niagara invites you to come for the spectacular view of the falls and stay for the Games. All unaccredited quotes are taken directly from wellandcanal.com and toronto2015.org

Today Magazine 51

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Niagara - Summer August 2014  

Niagara - Summer August 2014