Top seeds Miguel Angel
Rodriguez, the world No.4 from Colombia, and Amanda Sobhy,
the world No.10 from the USA, claimed gold in the 2015 Pan American
Games squash singles finals in Canada - Sobhy winning her first
Games medal at the Exhibition Centre in Toronto and
Rodriguez becoming the first squash player to successfully defend a
PanAm Games title.
Rodriguez, a 29-year-old from
Bogota in his 11th year as a squash professional, faced rising star
Diego Elias, the 18-year-old world No.43 from Peru who became his
country's first ever world champion after winning the World Junior
Championship title last year.
It took the experienced
Colombian 88 minutes to see off underdog Elias, a 3/4 seed who upset
second-seeded Mexican Cesar Salazar in the semi-finals.
Rodriguez won the first game
11-9 before the Peruvian teenager snapped back to draw level for the
loss of just three points. From ten-all in the third, favourite
Rodriguez clinched the next two points to open up a 2/1 lead before
capitalising on unforced errors from his opponent in the fourth to close
out the match 11-9, 3-11, 12-10, 11-8.
"Diego is a very good
player who is beginning to excel on the circuit,"
said Rodriguez (pictured above, in yellow, with [L to R] Elias, and
bronze medallists Shawn Delierre & Cesar Salazar).
"I know him well. He played like a champion.
"Everybody expected me to
win gold again - it was not easy," added the
highest-ranked South American player of all-time.
"I felt all the pressure of Colombia on me - but
fortunately I finished with gold."
The women's final - an
all-USA clash - was a swifter affair. Sobhy faced US team-mate Olivia
Blatchford, a fellow 22-year-old, also from New York, who secured
her surprise place in the final after upsetting No.2 seed Samantha
Teran, the defending champion from Mexico.
Sobhy, making her Pan Am
Games debut but playing her third match of the day after two doubles
battles in the event, brushed aside Blatchford 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 in just
"I am absolutely thrilled
to have won the Gold Medal in the singles!"
said Sobhy (pictured above [2nd left] with [L to R] Blatchford and
bronze medallists Samantha Cornett & Samantha Teran).
"This is my first PanAmerican Games, so to be
able to win a gold medal for not only myself, but for the US and squash
in the United States is a huge honor.
"Congrats to my teammate,
Olivia Blatchford, for getting the silver medal. Having an
all-American final with the US getting the Gold and Silver medal just
goes to show how much squash has progressed in the United States over
the past few years.
"While the PanAmerican
Games is a huge event for us, a real dream come true would be to stand
up there with an Olympic Gold Medal around my neck!"
RESULTS: Pan American
Games Squash Championships, Toronto, Canada
Men's 1st round: Max Camiruaga (CHI) bt Juan Sebastian Chacon (ECU) 10-12,
11-2, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 Alonso Escudero (PER) bt [9/16] Joe Chapman (IVB) 11-7,
[9/16] Sunil Seth (GUY) bt Mauricio Sedano (GUA) 11-9,
[9/16] Jaime Pinto (CHI) bt Ernesto Davila (ECU) 13-11,
[9/16] Nicolas Caballero (PAR) bt Jason-Ray Khalil (GUY)
11-2, 11-5, 11-4
Elias & Blatchford Bid For
Surprise PanAm Games Gold
Peruvian teenager Diego
Elias and US 22-year-old Olivia Blatchford claimed surprise
places in the gold medal play-offs in the 2015 Pan American Games
in Canada after upsets over the No.2 seeds in the Squash
Championships in Toronto.
A day after meeting
Thomas Bach during the IOC President's visit to the squash action at
the Exhibition Centre in Canada's biggest city, 3/4 seed Elias
(pictured above - 2nd left, top row - in squash group with Bach) ensured
medal opportunities for Peru for the first time in PanAm Games' history
when his semi-final opponent Cesar Salazar, silver medallist in
2011, retired injured with score at 7-11, 8-11, 11-5.
Elias, the 18-year-old
world No.43 from Lima, will face defending champion Miguel Angel
Rodriguez, the world No.4 from Colombia. The 29-year-old from Bogota
brushed aside Canadian Shawn Delierre, the other 3/4 seed who was
celebrating his third successive appearance in the semi-finals, 11-7,
The women's event comes to
a surprise all-USA climax after New Yorker Blatchford stunned
second-seeded Mexican Samantha Teran, the 2011 gold medallist,
11-7, 11-6, 11-7 in 30 minutes.
The 3/4 seed will face US
team-mate Amanda Sobhy, the top seed who graduated from Harvard
University earlier this year. Sobhy, ranked 10 in the world, ended home
interest in the women's event when she beat Canadian champion
Samantha Cornett, silver medallist in 2011, 11-2, 3-11, 11-4, 11-6.
"I am so happy for
Amanda because here is a girl playing for her country and has been No.1
for some time and she handled herself so beautifully under a lot of
pressure against Cornett and in front of the home crowd,"
said Paul Assaiante, US Squash Head National Coach.
"It was impressive to
see how confident Olivia was against an extremely experienced player.
She has made us all proud to have two players in the Finals tomorrow.
"For the first time in
a long time we are going to hear our National Anthem while standing on
the top of the podium."
Thomas Bach witnessed
Cornett's impressive opening round victory, when the 24-year-old from
Ottawa despatched Guatemala's Pamela Anckermann in straight
"With so many sports to
watch, how exciting to have IOC president Thomas Bach at the squash
courts today," said Cornett (pictured above in
conversation with Bach). "I am honoured he
watched me play, happy to have met him, and I can only hope he enjoyed
the match enough to consider squash for 2020.