US lacking big names for Pan Am Games Guadalajara2011

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) — Just like the Olympics, the Pan American Games come around every four years and bring together a team of talented athletes from the United States to compete in a multi-sport international.

Unlike the Olympics, however, stars like swimming great Michael Phelps and runner Allyson Felix prefer to skip the event altogether.

“At the end of the day, I think the scheduling of these games was a little bit more challenging than normal just because it was October instead of the summer,” United States Olympic Committee secretary general Scott Blackmun said Thursday, a day before the opening ceremony in rainy Guadalajara.

“Much of our team historically is comprised of collegiate athletes who are in their college seasons or otherwise in school right now,” Blackmun added. “In other cases we had some scheduling challenges. The best example of that I think is the gymnastics championships in Tokyo. We had athletes competing there up until a couple of days ago. It is not safe for them to go straight from one competition to another.”

The Pan American Games started in 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and have twice been staged in the United States. Traditionally, the best athletes from the United States competed in order to get big-time experience. A few of the more famous Americans to win gold medals at the Pan Am Games are swimmer Mark Spitz and sprit-long jumper Carl Lewis. Both went on to record-setting glory at the Olympics.

But these days, swimming, track and field and other sports have their own world championships, and those events have become more important in the run up to the Olympics.

The Americans are still favored to finish at the top of the medals table in Guadalajara, as usual. But United States chief of sport performance Alan Ashley said that wasn’t the outright goal. With about 650 athletes, more than the projected team for next year’s Olympics, the Americans are in Mexico to win medals and qualifying places for the London Games.

“We haven’t actually sat down and said we are going to win the medal count. But I know that if you went to the individuals that will be on the field of play, they are going to come and absolutely give it their best shot,” Ashley said. “For those sports where we can still qualify (for the Olympics), we absolutely want to keep a lot of focus and effort on those.”

The lack of the biggest stars doesn’t mean that all top-level athletes skip the games. Steffen Peters, a three-time Olympian who was born in Germany but competes for the United States, made the trip to Guadalajara.

“Any time I can contribute to the U.S. team, I’d like to do so,” Peters said. “It’s always a big honor, even if it’s not as big as the Olympics.”

The Americans have 82 Olympians on the roster for the Pan Am Games, including gymnast Shawn Johnson and shooter Kim Rhode. Both have won four Olympic medals.

The biggest worry facing the Americans and the other 41 nations competing in 47 sports is security, but the streets of Guadalajara are being patrolled by an estimated 10,000 police and military personnel.

“We’ve been very pleased with the amount of security coverage that we have had in the village,” USOC games director Leslie Gamez said. “We have observed over the past days as more people have come into the village, the security presence has increased. We’ve not had any challenges whatsoever.”

Another worry has been the local meat in Mexico, which can contain the banned substance clenbuterol. But again, the Americans said they weren’t worried.

“They’ve done an excellent job of how they’ve sourced, how they’ve tested, just to make sure that the athletes are safe,” Ashley said of the local organizers. “They’ve really taken this quite seriously and we’re quite happy with it.”

And despite the absences of the country’s top swimmers and track stars, Blackmun was also happy with the group of athletes that made the trip south of the border.

“We think we got a pretty good team here,” Blackmun said, “but the results will speak for themselves.”

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By CHRIS LEHOURITES, AP Sports Writer
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Guadalajara2011 ready to welcome Pan Am Games

By Gay Nagle Myers
The 2011 Pan American Games open Friday in Guadalajara, an event that is drawing thousands of visitors to watch more than 6,000 athletes from 42 nations compete, including 275 competitors from the U.S.

Guadalajara already has benefited from playing host to the games with newly paved roads, bridges, pedestrian walkways, spruced-up gardens and a new 8,500-seat stadium, built at a cost of $28 million.

The buildup included several new hotels, including the Riu Plaza, which opened in June, followed by the Westin in September. The city has 22,000 hotel rooms to house visitors.

Officials have warned residents to expect major traffic jams; many schools and universities have canceled classes during some or all of the games, which run through Oct. 30. The police presence has been ramped up with more than 11,000 members of the federal and state police on hand to provide additional security.

This marks the third time that Mexico has hosted this event; it was held in Mexico City in 1955 and 1975.

Pan Am Games on in Guadalajara 2011

Guadalajara is ramping up for the 2011 Pan American Games, an event scheduled for Oct. 14 to 30 that is expected to draw thousands of visitors to watch athletes from 42 nations compete, including 275 competitors from the U.S.

This marks the third time that Mexico has hosted this event; it was held in Mexico City in 1955 and 1975.

“This is a very big event for us,” said Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, COO of the Mexico Tourism Board.

In addition to Guadalajara, the games will draw for visitors to the nearby cities of Puerto Vallarta, Ciudad Guzman, Lagos de Moreno and Tapalpa, which will all play host to events.

The organizing committee expects to sell more than 1 million tickets to games events; tickets have been on sale since May.

The presence of the games this fall boosted plans to build new hotels, sports centers and stadiums; re-engineer Guadalajara’s downtown area; improve public transportation systems; and construct a second terminal at the airport, according to Horacio de la Vega, marketing director for Guadalajara 2011.

The city will have 22,000 hotel rooms to house visitors, including 557 at the new Riu Plaza, which opened in June.

Source www.travelweekly.com
By Gay Nagle Myers

Live Guadalajara

Vive GuadalajaraGuadalajara is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico and Latin America. Endowed with an extraordinary climate is the land of Mariachi, Tequila, the Instituto Cultural Cabañas (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and home to a wide culture that ranges from fine art to the height of the popular arts.

The Historic Center of Guadalajara at the Pan American Games 2011, offers an interesting architecture of the colonial era (Century 19) and an intense cultural and commercial life. In the Historic Center include, among other buildings of interest, the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Teatro Degollado, Guadalajara Cathedral and Government Palace. Also found in this part of the city’s famous Cruz de Plazas.

The city offers a wide variety of restaurants, entertainment centers, shopping centers, universities and many more attractions.

Forming a metropolitan area, the cities of Zapopan, Tlaquepaque and Tonala increase the supply of attractions for visitors.

One hour from Guadalajara are the Lake Chapala, the largest of Mexico and picturesque people Chapala and Ajijic, the latter preferred to visitors and residents from the United States and Canada.

Two hours are Tapalpa mountain village, endowed with many natural and cultural attractions.

The Tequila Express is a train from Guadalajara and that passes through the so-called Agave Landscape that takes visitors to know the production area Tequila, factories of this drink and the whole culture that revolves around its history and production.

For this and many more things that we will reveal here worth visiting Guadalajara.