Water polo tournament at the 18th Pan American Games in Lima (Peru) begins tomorrow.
The top team in each tournament will qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The only Pan American team which has already secured its Olympic berth is the USA female team. If the Americans win the gold, the silver medalist in the female competition will take a ticket for Tokyo.
Sixteen teams (8 men’s and 8 women’s teams) will take part in the competition with a total of 176 players. Roster sizes at the Pan American Games were reduced from 13 to 11, following the new Olympic rules. Water polo teams will compete with 11-player rosters at the 2020 Olympics.
The USA Team, Canada, Puerto Rico and Cuba will play in Group A of the men’s tournament. Host Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina were drawn into Group B.
The USA, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Venezuela will compete in Group A of the female tournament. Peru, Mexico, Canada and Cuba make up Group B.
Both USA Teams arrive in Lima as reigning champions and they are the biggest favorites for new titles. The USA men’s team has won 12 gold medals since the 1st Pan American Games in 1951. The Americans are seeking their seventh gold in a row. They haven’t suffered a loss at the PAG since a 5:8 defeat to Cuba in the final of the 1991 Pan American Games.
The first women’s water polo tournament at the Pan American Games was held in Canada in 1999. Twenty years ago, Canada claimed the 1st place, ahead of the USA. After that, the USA clinched four straight gold medals.
After the Preliminary Stage (August 4th – 6th), all teams will advance to the quarterfinals (August 8th). The semifinals will be played on August 9th, while the tournament will be completed on August 10th, with matches for the final rankings.
Five Pan American teams played at the 18th FINA World Championships, which was ended last week in Gwangju. In the women’s competition, the USA Team continued its domination, by winning the gold medal. Canada was 9th, while Cuba took the 15th place.
The USA men’s squad finished 9th. Brazil claimed the 13th place.
Four American players were injured in the nightclub floor collapse in Gwangju a night after the women’s final game. Three of them escaped without serious injuries and they arrived in Lima: Paige Hauschild (stitches) and two male players Johnny Hooper (stitches), Ben Hallock (scrapes). The USA Water Polo Federation announced that Kaleigh Gilchrist had returned home following surgery on her left leg in a Gwangju hospital. She was’ not originally named to the Pan American Games roster.
Group A: USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba.
Group B: Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina.
Group A: USA, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Venezuela.
Group B: Peru, Mexico, Canada, Cuba.
Medal winners at the 2015 Pan American Games