Halfway Highlights

Posted by Megan on July 21, 2015

Archive | Student Life

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Hi Friends,

The Games have been taking the city by storm, and it’s hard to believe that that the Closing Ceremony is only a handful of days away, on July 26.

What I’ve most enjoyed about the Games thus far is the degree to which they bring people together. On the one hand, we have amazing teams and fans from all over the Americas focused on Toronto —  the sum of their spirit joining our own to create a magnificent energy that is radiating through social media. One such example can be seen with Saulo Cruz. Saulo is a Brazilian cartoonist and photographer whose Instagram account, _saulocruz, features some great images of his experience here in Canada with Team Brazil, such as my personal favourite below.

In a more general sense, it has been really nice to see a shift on social media, even on Facebook on pages such those of the Toronto Star, where once the majority of comments expressed worry and apprehension about the Games. They have since turned to excitement, awe and congratulations for our athletes. On the other hand, in part because of PANAMANIA, I also see my fellow Canadians and our international visitors physically united over a celebration of athletics, culture and the arts at venues such as the CIBC Pan Am Park and PANAMANIA Live at Nathan Phillips Square. If you haven’t yet had a chance to attend, be sure to check out my colleague Sam’s useful PANAMANIA guide.

An image of fireworks and the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square.
PANAMANIA at Nathan Phillips Square. This image was taken by Ben Roffelsen (image source) and features the new Toronto sign in all of it’s illuminated glory — as well as the nightly fireworks display in the background. Amazing shot!

Here are my favourite highlights since the Games started on July 10 — check them out and let’s chat! What were your fave occasions? Heartwarming moments? Exciting medal wins? You can comment below, on Facebook or by tweeting me @yorkustudents.

Off with a Bang!

The Games had their start with a beautiful and energetic Opening Ceremony, with more than 45,000 spectators, featuring an impressive range of events including:

  • A powwow based on the theme “From Dream to Reality”
  • The retired Canadian sprinter, Donovan Bailey, jumping off the CN Tower in what is perhaps the coolest torch passing in the history of the Torch Relay
  • The Parade of Nations, which highlighted the thousands of athletes from 41 countries in the Americas
  •  A spectacular Cirque du Soleil performance, which featured 625 performers from 25 nations
  • And of course, the lighting of the Games’ Cauldron

The fun didn’t end there, however, as the night ended with a breathtaking display of fireworks that shot out of the CN Tower, finally answering the questions from the day before about all that smoke surrounding our most well-known landmark — they were testing to make sure they could put out a great show. Check out the video of the Opening Ceremony finale’s fireworks captured by the Toronto Star below. Did you know that you can see fireworks every night of the Games at Nathan Phillips Square? The celebration continues!

Canadians Kicking Butt

The Games are really a celebration of the individual athletes who spend so much of their time perfecting their skill. Of course, a little friendly competition doesn’t hurt either. While there is more to the Games than simply winning medals, it is nice to see how amazing our Canadian athletes have been performing, especially with the Games being hosted in Toronto. Here’s a recap from today:

1st standing: Team USA, with 65 Gold, 55 Silver and 49 Bronze.

2nd standing: Team Canada, with 55 Gold, 51 Silver and 42 Bronze.

3rd standing: Team Brazil (Bom trabalho! Good work to our on-campus friends!), with 30 Gold, 29 Silver and 43 Bronze.

You can stay up to date with the most current medal count by visiting the Toronto2015 website.

Canadians might be kicking butt overall, but did you know that one of the top medalists so far is also Canadian? Ellie Black, an artistic gymnast, is currently placed at second on the multi-medalist list with an astounding 5 medals — 3 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze. Way to go, Ellie!

An image of Ellie Black.
Ellie Black, waving to the crowd after winning five medals. Image source.

York Student’s Volleyball Success

This wouldn’t be Pan Ambling if I didn’t cover one of York’s own world-class athletes. Melissa Humana-Parades, along with her partner, Taylor Pischke, has had the beach volleyball equivalent of a hat trick (if you’re into hockey or cricket) — winning all 3 rounds of preliminaries, securing the pair’s position in the next rounds.

It started on July 13, when they faced the Cayman Islands, taking their first win with a 21-8 in the first round and a 21-10 in the second. The following day they came head to head with Puerto Rico, again winning by a fair margin with a 21-16 in the first round and 21-15 in the second. They finished their preliminary battle on Wednesday, July 15, with a match against Uruguay, in which they scored 21-15 in the first round and 21-14 in the second. They are just rocking it out there in the sand!

Melissa and her partner continued their streak on Saturday, July 18, with two 21-12 rounds against Costa Rica. On Sunday, they faced their first loss against Cuba in 3 rounds, 18-21, 21-17 and a final match of 7-15, taking them out of the race for Gold after a very impressive run. They still have a strong chance at Bronze, however, and I encourage everyone to lend their support today (Tuesday, July 21) at 3 pm, when the two face Team Brazil in their final match. We believe in you, Melissa and Taylor!

An image of Melissa Humana-Parades spiking the volleyball during a match.
Melissa Humana-Parades spiking the ball during the game against Puerto Rico. Image source.

Closing Ceremony Surprise Revealed

News broke last week revealing exciting details about the upcoming Closing Ceremony. While online commentators seem to have mixed opinions, I, for one, am very excited about these three performers contributing:

  1. Self-proclaimed rap god Kanye West (I think he is very talented and far more intelligent than people give him credit for, despite his brazen demeanor);
  2. Talented Canadian singer/songwriter Serena Ryder, who is the official voice for the English version of the Pan Am anthem, “We Are One”;
  3. Accomplished American rapper and pop artist Pitbull.

I have read some arguments stating that all the performers the night of the Closing Ceremony should be Canadian. “Why?,” I ask. I see things differently. The Games, maybe this year more than ever, have celebrated not only athletics but also culture and bringing countries together. One of our finest Canadian artists IS performing, but you also have Kanye West, currently one of the world’s top artists, and Pitbull, who is himself quite famous and also boasts a large Latinx (a gender-neutral term used instead of Latino or Latina) following — which is important considering these are the Pan American Games.

Either way, all serious debate aside, I simply can’t wait to see the performances on Sunday, July 26. Make sure to tune in!

Want to learn more about the Games? Be sure to visit panam2015.info.yorku.ca.


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

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