University of Guelph athletes and alumni won a total of nine medals at the 2015 Pan Am Games.
U of G graduate student Genevieve Lalonde won the bronze medal in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 9:53:03. As an undergraduate, Lalonde won Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) honours and helped the Gryphons to six national championship titles. She has qualified for the world championships in Beijing and hopes to race in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lalonde trains with the Speed River Track Club in Guelph. She is working on a master’s degree in geography.
Former Gryphon runner Alex Genest took home the silver medal in the men’s 3000m steeplechase with a time of 8 minutes 33.83 seconds. Genest competed at the 2012 Olympics. As a university student, he won several national and provincial championships and titles while at U of G and the Université de Sherbrooke. He also trains at the Speed River Track Club.
U of G student and swimmer Evan Van Moerkerke was part of the silver medal-winning men’s 4×100 metre freestyle relay team. They finished in 3:14.32, 66-one-hundredths of a second behind Brazil. Van Moerkerke is only the third Gryphon swimmer in school history to be selected to Canada’s national team. In addition to the Pan Am Games, the crop, horticultural and turfgrass sciences major will represent Canada at the World Championships in Russia. He is only the 12th Canadian to ever break the 50-second barrier in the 100-metre freestyle. He won a silver medal in the event at the 2015 CIS championships.
Former Gryphon wrestler Korey Jarvis won the silver medal in the men’s 125kg event. He has trained with the Guelph Wrestling Club for more than a decade, and won the CIS championships in 2011 as a rookie at U of G. He’s competed at the Pan Am Games twice previously, in 2007 and 2011.
U of G alum Lee Parkhill won Canada’s first-ever Pan Am sailing medal. He took the bronze in the laser class, beating out some highly-ranked competitors from the United States and Argentina. The 2010 BComm graduate will represent Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics. He lives and trains in Oakville.
Former Gryphons field hockey player Brienne Stairs helped Canada win a team bronze medal at the Pan Am Games. She scored the game’s lone goal as Canada beat Cuba 1-0, scoring in the 51st minute of play. While at U of G, Stairs was named the OUA Player of the Year and U of G’s Sportswoman of the Year, and often led the league in scoring.
Chris von Martels, a former diploma student at U of G’s Ridgetown campus, won the bronze medal in the individual dressage and a silver in the two-day team dressage event. He was making his debut at a major Games with Zilverstar, an 11-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding. He will now compete in the United States and Europe during the next few months in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics.
Former U of G student Britt Benn, a 2014 sociology graduate, was part of the gold medal-winning women’s rugby team. The Canadian women defeated the United States 55-7 July 12. Benn and the rest of the team has qualified for the 2016 Olympics. Benn, from Napanee, was a five-year member of U of G’s women’s rugby team. She was named the OUA MVP, CIS Player of the Year, and was nominated for CIS Athlete of the Year. She also won five team OUA gold medals, three bronze, two CIS silvers and one national championship title.
Other current and former U of G athletes competed in the Pan Am Games, and many U of G faculty and staff are assisting as volunteers and on-site staff.
The Games, which took place in southern Ontario July 10-26, brought together athletes from the Americas. The Games take place every four years — in the year before the Summer Olympics — and began in 1951.