The Legacy of the 2023 Pan American Games
43 UC Chile students made history representing the country at the Pan American Games. They played a pivotal role in Team Chile's impressive performance, winning nine medals—two gold, four silver, and three bronze—in various events, including rowing, athletics, rugby sevens, sailing, and field hockey.
Chile made history by hosting the Pan American Games for the first time. For 17 days, four regions of the country hosted the continent's premier sports festival, centered around the Chilean capital and the National Stadium.
Santiago 2023 was a celebration from start to finish, leaving a lasting impact on the country. It brought about new infrastructure and set a medal record that surpassed the achievements of Lima 2019. These Pan American Games hold significance for Team Chile and UC athletes alike. One notable aspect is the medal count, with 79 medals—12 gold, 31 silver, and 36 bronze—placing Chile in eighth position in the overall standings.
In this collection of medals, the achievements of our students shone brightly as UC Chile athletes secured nine medals: two gold, four silver, and three bronze. This achievement is a new record for UC Chile, surpassing the two medals (one bronze and one silver) won in the previous games held in the Peruvian capital. Notably, 11 UC Chile students secured medals in these games.
On the other hand, our students participated in over 20 disciplines during these games. These numbers paint a promising picture for the future of the national sports scene. In addition to the legacy at the infrastructure level, Santiago 2023 is poised to set a precedent for athletic activities.
"They will find an ally in UC, as we offer numerous benefits to support their commitment to sports while pursuing their academic careers."
The Pan American Games are expected to catalyze future generations, encouraging physical activity, talent development and promoting improved sports-related public policies in Chile. "The game results will inspire young people and children to engage in more sports, realizing they can achieve great things," stated Jorge Silva, UC Sports Director. He reaffirms UC Chile's commitment to supporting athletes in reaching their goals. "They will find an ally in UC Chile, as we offer numerous benefits to support their commitment to sports while pursuing their academic careers."
UC Chile Athletes' Medals
The University secured its first medal early in San Pedro de la Paz, the eighth region. Rowing, one of Team Chile's most successful disciplines during Santiago 2023, produced ten medals.
In that event, a medical student, Nahuel Reyes, delivered a memorable performance. Initially securing bronze in the four coxless events, he claimed Pan American gold in the challenging eight coxswain race with an impeccable display on the water.
The joy of the UC Chile athletes continued to grow during Santiago 2023, especially in athletics, where multiple medals were secured. Lucas Nervi stood out in the discus category, surpassing his competition record with an impressive 63.39 meters, clinching his first Pan American gold and the second for UC Chile.
Following that, College student Martín Kouyoumdjian won a bronze for Chile in the 400-meter dash. Despite the challenges of a rainy day, he clocked a time of 46.58 seconds, initially placing fourth. However, the disqualification of the Colombian Anthony Zambrano, who encroached on a lane, elevated Kouyoumdjian to third place. When athlete Martina Weil informed him, he learned about it in the mixed zone. "These things happen; that's the nature of sports. Suddenly, I was worried about a possible disqualification because I felt I might have touched the line," he said.
Building on the success in athletics, the celebration continued the next day with María Ignacia Montt in the women's 4x100 relay. The Commercial Engineering student secured second place alongside Martina Weil (gold in the 400-meter flat), Anaís Hernández, and Isidora Jiménez. The athlete impressively finished the race, setting a new national record for the event with a time of 44.19 seconds.
Field Hockey, Sailing, and Rugby
In field hockey, the "Diablas" secured the bronze medal with a convincing 2-0 victory over Canada, rightfully earning their place on the podium after an outstanding Pan American Games. Two UC Chile student-athletes played a crucial role in this medal achievement: Agustina Solano and Francisca Irazoqui, respectively, students of Dentistry and College.
Amidst her achievement, the dentistry student took a moment to acknowledge the university's support and the facilities that have allowed her to balance academic pursuits with high-performance sports. "Without the university's support, I couldn't be doing this. I get to pursue both my chosen program and elite-level sports. I am thrilled and grateful. I hope this level of support continues for high-performance athletes," expressed the athlete, who is delighted to have qualified for the Pre-Olympics in Paris 2024.
"Without the university's support, I couldn't be doing this," said Agustina Solano, an athlete and dentistry student.
In sailing, Clemente Seguel secured the silver medal in the ILCA 7 category, delivering an impeccable performance navigating familiar waters. Hailing from the Fifth Region and a Commercial Engineering student, he earned his spot in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris 2024. This event is familiar to him, as he previously participated in laser sailing at Tokyo 2020.
In rugby sevens, the "Cóndores," led by law student Manuel Bustamante, won a historic silver medal for Chile. They achieved this feat by overcoming the United States' team in a challenging semifinal before facing defeat against Argentina, a country with a long-standing rugby tradition. The medal affirms the significant progress of this discipline in the country.
The experience was unique for the medalists and every UC Chile athlete representing Chile; the memories of Santiago 2023 will be unforgettable.
This sentiment is echoed by Arantza Inostroza, a fencer and psychology student, who, despite not winning a medal for Chile, delivered an impressive performance by reaching the quarterfinals.
"It was very nice to compete here and have so much company. I almost got emotional several times during the competition. An experience that doesn't happen all the time. I'm very grateful. It's disappointing not to leave with a medal, but this isn't the end. I'll draw a lot from this experience," said the foil specialist. She added that her focus will now shift to preparing for upcoming world competitions in her discipline.
Gymnast Josué Armijo, a student of Physical Education Pedagogy, shares a similar perspective, emphasizing the significance of competing at home as a motivating factor. "It was a very special moment. Even though I'm a bit dissatisfied with my performance, I gave it my all. I'm immensely grateful for the support from the people; it's a unique feeling. Despite some nervousness, I managed to handle the pressure well," explained the athlete.
"The achievements of our UC Chile athletes have been incredible, going from two medals in Lima 2019 to nine in these Pan American Games. This reflects the dedicated efforts made by the University," said UC Sports Director Jorge Silva.
Jorge Silva also referred to the performance of the 43 UC Chile athletes who participated in Santiago 2023, valuing all the efforts made by the students. According to the director, the UC Chile has made a great effort to improve and maintain its commitment to sports, supporting student-athletes.
"The achievements of our UC Chile athletes have been incredible, going from two medals in Lima 2019 to nine in these Pan American Games. This is a reflection of the dedicated efforts made by the University, attracting high-performance athletes and providing the necessary maintenance and facilities for all. I am thrilled with this delegation of 43 athletes and students from the university, contributing to Team Chile's total of 79 medals. Undoubtedly, a significant contribution from our institution to Chile," said Silva.
Barranquilla 2027 is on the horizon, but on November 17, another celebration awaits in Chile: the Parapan American Games. Until November 26, Paralympic athletes will once again grace the country with the vibrant hues of sport, aiming to bring new joys.
Among these athletes, Mariana Zúñiga stands out. The archery specialist and Tokyo 2020 Olympic medalist will be the sole participant in both sporting events.