Fun Facts About the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Posted by Megan on June 26, 2015

Pan Ambling

Hi friends,

Welcome back to Pan Ambling.

The Games are now less than two weeks away, so I thought it would be nice to build on your excitement by sharing some fun facts I’ve learned in my research so far this summer.

Winter what now?

The Pan American Games, much like the Olympics, happen every four years. Did you know that the first, and only, Winter Pan Am Games were held in 1990? Argentina hosted 8 nations and a mere 97 athletes for 1 sport — alpine skiing. Canada and the United States were the only teams to win medals. Go Team Canada!

An image of an alpine skiier.
It’s funny to think of a Pan Am Games that showcased only one sport! Image Source.

Inclusivity for all!

The Pan American Games have been hosted across the Americas since 1951. Which is why it might surprise you to learn that the Parapan Am Games came to be a mere 16 years ago in 1999. Toronto is hosting the 5th Parapan Am Games, with the largest amount of para-athletes yet — estimated at 1,600 — 300 more than in the 2011 Guadalajara Games!

In the video below, you can get a better idea about how our Parapan athletes prepare for the Games.

Learn more about the history of the Paralympic movement on the Toronto 2015 website.

Toronto’s Pan Am plans…

Each host city makes the Games their own in a unique way. Some really cool updates mark the 2015 edition:

  1. This year’s Games will be the largest multi-sport event ever hosted in Canada — even surpassing the Olympic Games. I found this quite surprising, personally.
  2. The GTA will host competitions in 40+ venues. One of them — the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre — is the single largest investment ever made in amateur sport development in Canada. When the Canadian government says this year’s Games will leave behind a sporting legacy, it knows what it’s talking about!
  3. Two sports, Golf and Women’s Baseball, will be debuting at the Toronto 2015 Games.
  4. This year’s Pan Am Games features a new 35-day arts and culture festival, PANAMANIA, which encompasses four major programs and more than 250 unique performances and exhibitions, many of them free! You can learn more on the Toronto 2015 website.
An image of the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
The new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, which is co-owned by the City of Toronto and the University of Toronto. Aside from the pools, it also includes a separate dive tank, fitness centre, climbing wall, indoor track, and Games-time capacity for 10,000 people! Image source.

Bling, bling, Braille.

A really neat article on InsideToronto covered some interesting facts about this year’s medals. For instance, for the first time ever, this year’s medals will include Braille on the back to spell out “Toronto 2015,” another great step in the spirit of “United We Play.”

Another first this year is the use of a centuries-old process called “mokume-gane” by the Canadian Mint. This technique fuses different alloys in the creation of the medals. Mokume-gane, according to Wikipedia, was first used in the 17th century to create traditional samurai swords. Now our athletes can feel like warriors!

My favourite fact about this year’s medals, however, is related to the artwork on them. In honour of the Aboriginal traditions of this region, the Métis artist Christi Belcourt used designs to welcome guests and “cherish the beauty of the natural world.”

An image of this years medals.
Aren’t these medals just beautiful? You can see familiar Pan Am “in motion” icons on both the medal and it’s strap. Image source.


What other fun facts have you heard about the Games? Which were you most surprised about? Excited about? Let’s chat! Comment below or tweet me @yorkustudents.



Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

See other posts by Megan

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