Canada’s Adam Froese, right, battles for the ball against Argentina’s Rodrigo Nicolas Vila, left, during first half men’s gold medal field hockey final at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette (NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Canada’s goalies Antoni Kinnler, left, and David Carter shed tears after being defeated by Argentina during men’s gold medal field hockey final at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. Canada lost 3-1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette (CP)
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – When the whistle blew to end Canada’s best hope for a berth in the London Olympics, Ken Pereira and Rob Short found each other on the pitch for a long hug that said everything.
Canada’s men’s field hockey team lost out to an old foe in its bid for an Olympic berth, dropping a heartbreaking 3-1 decision to Argentina in the gold-medal match at the Pan American Games on Saturday.
“It’s devastating, it’s been hard to keep the tears back I must say, when you see your parents, you see your family, it’s hard,” Short said. “We weren’t good enough today, the moment was too big for our team, and we showed our inexperience for this.”
Vancouver’s Scott Tupper scored the lone goal for the Canadians in the 10th consecutive gold-medal meeting between the two teams and a result that sends Argentina to the London Olympics.
The Canadians still have another shot at securing a London berth through a second-chance qualifier this spring, but it’s a difficult back-door route that Canada has never successfully navigated.
Canada still had success at the Pan Am Games, with Mandy Bujold claiming gold in women’s boxing, Richard Dalton taking gold in canoe and Ryan Cochrane and Hugues Fournel finishing first in kayak.
Along with the silver in field hockey, Canada also won silver in men’s water polo, women’s team epee fencing and women’s synchronized diving.
Canada is fifth in the standings with 118 medals (29 gold, 40 silver, 49 bronze). The United States leads with 234 medals, followed by Brazil (139), Cuba (135) and Mexico (132).
After the field hockey loss, some of the Canadian players tugged their jerseys over their faces, others lay on the pitch sobbing. Pereira pulled himself up over the stadium railing to hug his parents, plus another dozen or so Canadian fans.
The blow was a particularly cruel one for Pereira, from Unionville, Ont., and Short, from Tsawwassen, B.C., who were looking toward London for what would likely be their final Olympic appearance to cap a pair of illustrious careers. Pereira, 38, and 39-year-old Short have combined for nearly 700 national team appearances â€” a record 336 for Pereira and 334 for Short â€” an almost unheard of number in any sport.
“I love my buddy, we started playing together when I was 17 on the junior Canadian team and we’ve been together ever since,” Short said, barely holding back tears. “We’ve always played beside each other in the midfield, he’s my best friend, and this is a hard moment for us. I think there’s more tears to be shed for us.”
Their 17-year careers have taken them to two Olympic Games and now five Pan American Games. They were hoping for one more Olympics.
“Three hundred games together, it’s tough. He was ahead of me by about six or seven caps awhile ago then I caught up to him. Then just this summer he had an injury and I went two ahead of him,” Pereira said through tears. “We promised we would retire with the exact same amount of caps, we were hoping it would be in London this way, but now we’ve got to go another route.
“Hopefully it will still be there. He’s one of my best friends and he’s a great player, great captain. I’ve learned a lot for him.”
Now Canada faces a difficult route to make it to London. Eighteen teams that haven’t qualified play in three six-team tournaments, the winner of each goes to the Olympics.
“We don’t know where it’s going to be, we don’t know what teams, but this team is a tough bunch of guys, we’re not giving up yet,” said Short. “We’ll be there, we’re going to fight for it.
“I just sure hope we can make London, I’d love to retire there.”
Short earned his masters degree in coaching last year and plans to coach in the Canadian program, while Pereira will be 42 when Toronto hosts the Pan Am Games four years from now.
“I don’t know if I’ll be there,” Pereira said. “I would love to be, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Ignacio Bergner, Pedro Ibarra and Lucas Vila scored second-half goals for Argentina, who are ranked one spot behind Canada â€” the Canadians are 10th, while Argentina is No. 11.
Tupper scored with 10 minutes left in the first half when Pereira collected a penalty corner from Short and dished off the ball to Tupper.
“Still digesting,” Tupper said. “It’s obviously devastating. To lose a game like this, this is something you train for, for three year since the last Olympics and to have it go away in 35 minutes, it’s tough to put into words.”
Goalkeeper Antoni Kindler and Canada’s defence did well to keep Argentina off the scoreboard for most of the game until Argentina poured it on with 26 minutes left when first Bergner scored to tie the game, then Ibarra scored five minutes later on a penalty corner. Vila’s goal came on a driving shot from far out with 17 minutes left to play.
The 2,870-seat Pan American Hockey Stadium, set in a lush city park, was full and noisy. Fans banged big conga drums and blew horns. The crowd broke into spontaneous chants of “Ca-na-da!,” started each time by a large selection of Canadian athletes. Curt Harnett, former Olympic cycling star and the team’s assistant chef de mission at the Games, threw Canadian pins into the stands and waved a Maple Leaf.
Governor General David Johnston presented the medals, one of several events he had planned over a two-day visit that also included a trip to the show jumping final and a tour of the athletes village.
“It’s very exciting to see that determined group of young men who were obviously disappointed but we’re very proud of them, they did everything they could,” the Governor General said. “I said to them they symbolize a terrific effort. . . we celebrate for everyone.”
The Canadians defeated Argentina four years ago on penalty flicks at the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to earn an Olympic berth.
Later Saturday, Bujold, from Kitchener, Ont., won the second women’s boxing gold for Canada in as many days with an 11-5 victory over Colombia’s Ingrid Valencia in 51-kilogram division. Teammate Mary Spencer won gold in the 75-kilo division on Friday.
“I’ve been calling our Canadian women’s team the female version of the (powerful) Cuban team,” Bujold said. “We’ve been doing so well and we made a lot of history this week.”
Earlier, in the men’s C1 200-metre race, 32-year-old Dalton, a native of Halifax, won in 40.333 seconds.
Nivalter De Jesus of Brazil took the silver in 40.619, while Roleysi Baez (41.403) of Cuba captured bronze.
“It was another very intense battle,” Dalton said. “I haven’t taken one second off since I made this team because I knew how tough my competition was.
“I didn’t leave anything to chance, so I’m very happy with the result.”
The win earned Canada a spot in the men’s C1 200-metre event at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Cochrane, from Windsor, Ont., and Fournel, a native of Pointe-Claire, Que., took the gold medal in the men’s K2 200-metre kayak race in 32.375.
“Usually, we would have rested after the world championships, but we just kept going,” Cochrane said. “Everything just came together. We did what we would always do and it just worked.”
Argentina’s Miguel Correa and Ruben Voizard-Resola was right behind them, earning silver in 32.494, while Brazil’s Givago Ribeiro and Gilvan Ribeiro took bronze with a time of 32.902.
In fencing, Ainsley Switzer of Ajax, Ont., Sherraine Schalm of Brooks, Alta., Daria Jorquera of Winnipeg and Sandra Sassine of Montreal settled for silver after losing 45-36 to the U.S. in the women’s team epee final.
In diving, Emilie Heymans of Greenfield Park, Que., and Jennifer Abel and Laval, Que., won silver in the women’s synchronized three-metre platform event with 336.30 points. Mexico’s Paola Espinosa and Laura Sanchez won gold with 338.70 points.
Canada collected a silver in the men’s water polo final. Kevin Graham scored twice and Dusko Dakic had a single in a 7-3 loss to the United States.
The win earns the U.S. a berth to London 2012 while Canada will play in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Edmonton next April.
Article source: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/canada-richard-dalton-races-to-canoe-gold-at-pan-american-games--132848813.html