The South American Games took place in Santiago this month, with the best athletes from around South America taking part in over 30 disciplines. Chilean crowds flocked to the stadiums, while the competitors impressed across many sports.
Chile finished the medal tally in fifth place, with more than 100 medals and 27 of them gold. In an event that offered 170 less gold medals than in the 2010 Games in Medellín, Chile improved upon their Colombia performance.
Chile’s first gold came in inline speed skating, with Emanuelle Silva winning the 300m time trial. It wasn’t long before triathlete Bárbara Riveros crossed the line in first place in Viña del Mar, repeating her performance from 2010.
Gymnastics and water skiing were Chile’s most successful events, each bringing 13 medals. On the water, it was not only the Miranda brothers starring on their home lake, but Fernanda Naser and 15-year-old Valentina González who also finished in top place.
Gymnastics star Tomás González finished with a gold in floor and vault, but the whole team impressed, showing that there is a strong future even after Chile’s golden boy eventually retires.
In the field events, Olympic throwers Natalia Ducó and Karen Gallardo thrilled a patriotic home crowd, each charging onto the running track with the Chilean flag for a celebratory lap, while a number of Chilean records were smashed during the games.
On the team front, Argentina proved too strong in both men’s and women’s hockey, women’s football and both editions of basketball. However, the women’s basketball team proved itself a force to be reckoned with — led by Ziomara Morrison, they took the fancied Argentinian side into overtime in a breathtaking final.
Chile’s final golds game through “Tito” González in the sailing and youngster Ignacio Morales in taekwondo. Brazil topped the table with over 100 gold medals, with many showing that preparations for a home Olympics are in full swing.
Among the visiting stars to compete in the Games were Olympic champions Mariana Pajón (Colombia, BMX) and Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti, the first Latin American gymnast to win an Olympic medal. He took gold on the rings in London.
Hosting the South American Games leaves Chile with key new facilities, including a velodrome, aquatic center, bmx track, multi-sport arena and beach volleyball courts which are all of international standard. The next step will be to host major events for individual sports, with a view to applying for the Pan American Games once again.