LIMA, Peru – As the Pan American Games come to an end, Team USA leaves Lima, Peru, with more than just medals earned. U.S. athletes and teams earned several quota spots for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, while also leading all Pan American nations in medal count with 291.
With the Tokyo Games looming on the horizon, let’s take a look at how Team USA’s performance at the Pan American Games has impacted its Olympic outlook in 2020.
Team USA earned one women’s quota with its gold-medal finish in mixed team recurve on Aug. 11. World champion Brady Ellison also broke a world record in the men’s individual, posting a score of 702 in qualification.
“I finally got it,” Ellison said. “I have been shooting some amazing scores in practice and when I stepped onto the field today, I knew I had the weather. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous at the start, but I just had the feeling that everything was going to hit today, and I would break it.”
The U.S. equestrian eventing team claimed a gold medal on Aug. 4, securing a team quota spot and three individual quota spots for the Tokyo Games. Boyd Martin and Lynn Symansky also placed first and second in the individual eventing competition, respectively.
“It’s a big relief. We all worked very, very hard,” Martin said. “There was a lot of pressure coming here. We were under the gun, and I think we all stepped up.”
Entering the final day of competition with the overall lead, Team USA executed four clear rounds in the jumping event. With a 91.20-point total, the U.S. edged out Brazil by 30.90 points for the team gold medal.
The U.S. earned one men’s and one women’s spot in modern pentathlon for the Tokyo Games. With her come-from-behind silver medal in the women’s event on July 27, Samantha Achterberg punched her ticket to Tokyo in a dramatic fashion.
“It’s surreal,” Achterberg said. “Crossing the finish line, I was tearing up, and I can’t stop smiling now. I know the work’s not over, but it’s definitely a huge relief to know that I’ve qualified.”
Three-time Olympian Amro Elgeziry earned his spot with his fifth-place finish in the men’s event on July 28, the final qualification spot available for North and Central American countries.
Riley Gibbs and Anna Weis claimed a gold medal in the Nacra 17 event on Aug. 9, securing an Olympic quota in the event for Team USA. The pair sailed a clean race in an extreme breeze on the final day of competition to secure the gold.
“It’s an amazing feeling, to come away with gold,” Weis said. “We’ve been through a lot as a team—a new team—so it’s awesome to see our hard work pay off.”
The next day, Stephanie Roble and Margaret Shea earned the silver in 49erFX and also earned a quota spot for Tokyo, as first-place Brazil already secured its quota with its performance at the sailing world championships in December 2018.
USA Shooting earned seven quotas for the Tokyo Games – two in men’s trap shooting, one in men’s air pistol, one in men’s air rifle, one in women’s three-position rifle, one in women’s air rifle and one in women’s sport pistol.
“I stuck to my fundamentals and worked with what I had,” said Lucas Kozeniesky, who claimed a quota spot for Team USA with his victory in men’s air rifle. “The quota is huge for the shooting team. We needed that quota, and there was no way [my teammate Tim Sherry] or I were leaving without one.”
Caroline Dolehide finished with a silver in the women's singles final, which added a quota spot for women's tennis for the upcoming Olympic Games. The U.S. can send a maximum of four women and four men, with the rest of the athletes being decided through the APT/WTA singles rankings in June of 2020.
In addition, Dolehide finished with a gold in women's doubles tennis alongside her partner Usue Arconda.
“It feels amazing,” Dolehide said. “It’s what we came here to do. We wanted to represent the U.S. well and bring home the gold. That was all that was on our minds.”
The U.S. men’s water polo team won the gold medal with a victory over Canada, 18-6, to claim a spot for the team in Tokyo. Alex Bowen led the team’s scoring efforts with five goals.
“It’s incredible, it’s really wonderful,” Bowen said. “We put a lot into this summer, and we’ve had to go through a lot of hardships to get here. Honestly, we’re just so excited to finish. We did our job. We did what we needed to do. It’s a successful summer.”