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10 Athletes You Won’t Want To Miss At The Pan American Games Lima 2019

By Chrös McDougall | July 23, 2019, 10:18 a.m. (ET)

(From left to right clockwise) Nathan Adrian, Justin Gatlin, Maggie Steffens and Monica Abbott will be representing Team USA in their respective sports at the Pan American Games Lima 2019.


The Pan American Games Lima 2019 kick off Friday in Peru, and while the multi-sport competition features several sports you might not be so familiar with — hello basque pelota, bowling and water skiing — those who follow along will also find all of their favorite summer Olympic sports, and just maybe some of their favorite Team USA athletes.

Here’s a look at 10 U.S. athletes you’ll likely recognize in Lima.

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Monica Abbott, Softball

When the last out was recorded at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, softball pitcher Monica Abbott was at a crossroads. She was one of the brightest young stars in the sport — hence her 0.29 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 3-0 record in 24 innings in Beijing. But her sport was no longer an Olympic sport, and in 2010 Abbott retired from international play. Now softball is back for the 2020 Olympics, and Abbott is back, too. The 33-year-old returned to Team USA in 2018 and quickly picked up where she left off, leading the team to the world title in her first year back.


Nathan Adrian, Swimming

Nathan Adrian returned to the world stage in a golden way on Sunday, helping the U.S. 4x100-meter freestyle team claim a world title. It continued a remarkable comeback for Adrian, who underwent surgeries to treat testicular cancer in December and January, and who only returned to competitive swimming in May. Now Adrian — a three-time Olympian and five-time Olympic gold medalist — could swim once more at worlds in South Korea before heading straight to Peru for his first Pan Am Games, where the swimming portion begins Aug. 6. After focusing on relays at worlds, Adrian, 30, will race the 50 and 100 frees in Lima.


Jordan Burroughs, Wrestling

Good things come to Jordan Burroughs in odd-numbered years. The freestyle wrestler won his four world titles in 2011, ’13, ’15 and ’17. He added Pan Am Games gold medals in 2011 and 2015. But who are we kidding? Burroughs is pretty good in even-numbered years, too, having won the Olympic gold medal in 2012 and world bronze medals in 2014 and ’18. Now Burroughs, who competes at the 74 kg. class, will look to add a third Pan Am Games gold medal and then ride that momentum to the world championships in September and, ultimately, to Tokyo in 2020.


Brady Ellison, Archery

Few athletes have had as fine a start to 2019 as Brady Ellison. The three-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medalist opened the year with two men’s recurve gold medals and a bronze in the opening three world cup competitions. In June, he won his first individual world title, in the process becoming the first U.S. man to win gold at the world championships since 1985. And earlier this month, Ellison won a bronze medal at the World Archery Ready Steady Tokyo Test Event. Needless to say, Ellison will be a favorite to win Pan Am gold after taking team and individual silver medals in 2015.


Justin Gatlin, Track and Field

Even at age 37, Justin Gatlin remains one of the world’s fastest sprinters. The three-time Olympian and five-time Olympic medalist — a tally that includes the 100-meter gold medal in 2004 — has posted the fourth fastest 100-meter time in the world so far this year, clocking in at a blazing 9.87 seconds, and he’ll aim to go even faster in Lima. The Woodham, Florida, native, who is also the reigning 100-meter world champion, will represent Team USA as part of the 4x100 in what will be his first Pan American Games.

Morgan Hurd, Gymnastics

The 2017 world all-around gymnastics champion leads a strong five-woman U.S. team into Lima. Hurd, along with Riley McCusker, Kara Eaker, Aleah Finnegan and Leanne Wong, were named to the Pan Am Games team on Saturday night, following their performance at the U.S. Classic in Louisville, Kentucky. Hurd, McCusker and Eaker were all members of the U.S. team that won the 2018 world title, and Hurd also finished third in the all-around and second on floor exercise. She now has five world championships medals as she hones in on her first Olympic berth in Tokyo.


Beezie Madden, Equestrian

With four Olympic Games and four Olympic medals on her resume, equestrian Beezie Madden will no doubt be one of the most decorated athletes in Peru. The two-time Olympic champion show jumper also won Pan Am Games team gold medals in 2003 and 2011. This time the 55-year-old Madden will ride Breitling LS as she goes for a third gold medal. Joining her on the U.S. jumping team is Lucy Deslauriers, Alex Granato and Eve Jobs, daughter of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.


Gerek Meinhardt, Fencing

Gerek Meinhardt is coming off a first-round exit at the world fencing championships on Saturday. Call that the exception. In 2010, the San Francisco native won a world bronze medal, making him the first U.S. male fencer to claim a medal at the world championships. Coming into his 11th worlds this year, Meinhardt had added four more, including another individual bronze medal. Also a three-time Olympian, Meinhardt won a bronze medal with the U.S. men’s foil team in Rio. He’ll be looking to add a third consecutive Pan Am Games team gold medal in Peru, while aiming to improve upon his individual silver medal from 2015.

Kim Rhode, Shooting

Kim Rhode’s prowess at the Olympic Games is well documented — she’s competed in six Olympic Games, and she’s the only woman to win a medal at six consecutive Olympics. Similarly impressive, however, is her record at the Pan Am Games. Rhode made her Pan Am Games debut in 1999, winning the gold medal in double trap. She won three more gold medals and a silver in four subsequent Pan Am Games. Now, having just turned 40, Rhode will go for a fifth gold, and her third since switching to the skeet discipline.


Maggie Steffens, Water Polo

Maggie Steffens and the U.S. women’s water polo team are in South Korea this week battling for a third consecutive world title. Before they can catch their breath, they’ll be back in the pool in Lima, where Steffens is aiming for another three-peat (the team has won the last six Pan Am golds). The world title game is set for Friday, and the Pan Am competition starts Aug. 4. Steffens, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the 2012 Olympic MVP, is one of the most dominant players on what might be the most dominant team of any sport right now.

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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Maggie Steffens

Water Polo
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Kim Rhode

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Gerek Meinhardt

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Beezie Madden

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Justin Gatlin

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Brady Ellison

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Jordan Burroughs

Freestyle Wrestling
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Nathan Adrian

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Monica Abbott