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5 Top Team USA Moments From The 2015 Pan American Games

By Chrös McDougall | July 22, 2019, 2:56 p.m. (ET)

Claressa Shields celebrates victory over Nouchka Fontijn (Netherlands) in the women's middle (69-75kg) final at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


With the next edition of the Pan American Games set to begin Friday in Lima, Peru, we take a look back at the previous edition of the multi-sport competition for athletes from the Americas.

Here are five top moments from the Pan American Games Toronto 2015.

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Claressa Shields Makes History In Women’s Boxing

Women’s boxing was added to the Pan American Games in 2011, and one of the sport’s GOATs stepped up to steal the show in 2015. Claressa Shields, the 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medalist from Flint, Michigan, went undefeated in Toronto, winning each of her matches by unanimous decision — including the final against the Dominican Republic’s Yenebier Guillen Benitez. Already the first U.S. woman to win Olympic gold in boxing, Shields took the same distinction at the Pan Am Games. Then she wrapped up the Games by serving as Team USA’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony. At the 2016 Olympic Games, Shields would again win gold and become the first American of either gender to win back-to-back boxing golds.

Seven Sports Qualify For Rio 2016

More than medals are on the line for some sports at the Pan American Games. In many cases, the results in Toronto also had Olympic implications, and U.S. athletes took advantage of available qualification opportunities in seven sports: canoe/kayak, equestrian, women’s field hockey, modern pentathlon, shooting, table tennis and men’s water polo. Among those athletes, modern pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher became the first person to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team; table tennis player Yue Wu followed in his footsteps.

Sam Mikulak Leads U.S. Gymnastics To Historic Wins

Sam Mikulak has been the standard bearer for the U.S. men’s gymnastics team in recent years, and rarely has he been stronger than he was at the Pan Am Games. First, Mikulak led the U.S. men’s team to its first Pan Am gold medal in 20 years, with the California native posting the second-best all-around score of the day. Two days later, he was at it again, this time becoming the first U.S. man in 28 years to win the Pan Am all-around title. Mikulak, a 2012 Olympian who would go on to make the 2016 team as well, also placed third in floor exercise and parallel bars.

Laura Zeng Puts Rhythmic Gymnastics On The Map

When it comes to gymnastics, the U.S. is known best for the artistic discipline — you know, the one with the balance beam and uneven bars. In Toronto, Laura Zeng showed that rhythmic gymnastics is starting to catch up. The Illinois native won all five gold medals in Toronto, making her the winningest athlete of the Games. Prior to Zeng, only one woman had ever swept the individual titles at Pan Ams. Zeng, a bronze medalist at the Summer Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014, went on to make her Olympic debut in Rio.

Kim Rhode Does It Again

Is there anything Kim Rhode can’t do? The six-time U.S. Olympic shooter — who, ahem, won a medal in all six Olympics — is equally as exceptional in the Pan Am Games. Having made her debut in 1999, she won four medals (three golds) in her first four Pan Am Games, and then added another gold medal in women’s skeet in 2015. In doing so, Rhode became the only athlete to tie a world record at the 2015 Pan Ams. And, oh yeah, she also was the Team USA flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Related Athletes

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Claressa Shields

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Nathan Schrimsher

Modern Pentathlon
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Sam Mikulak

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Laura Zeng

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Kim Rhode