Pan Am Games Under Way
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) _ The cauldron burned and the athletes beamed as the 13th Pan American Games officially got under way.
Athletes from 42 nations paraded into Winnipeg Stadium on Friday night in a colorful opening ceremony that showcased music, dance and local tradition as thousands of flag-waving spectators cheered.
Seven aboriginal athletes banned from the 1967 Pan Am Games in this prairie city carried the flame into Winnipeg Stadium for the torch lighting that signals the official start of competition, which actually had been going on for two days.
Kayaker Alwyn Morris and rower Silken Laumann, both Olympic medalists for Canada, carried the torch up the final steps and, together, lit the cauldron.
The flame made its appearance after the delegations of athletes paraded leisurely into the stadium, ranging from the Brazilian contingent that stretched the length of the football field to the one athlete from tiny St. Kitts and Nevis.
The crowd roared for Cuba, whose athletes wore black tie, but the biggest cheers _ naturally _ went to the Canadian team, which marched in to a standing ovation and blinding bursts of flashbulbs from throughout the stands.
Hours before, native Canadian marchers paraded in protest of what they say are third-world conditions for their people in Manitoba.
Perhaps 200 marchers, including native drummers, were on hand for the start of the walk and then headed to the stadium. They promised to remain outside and not disrupt the official opening of the games being attended by Princess Anne and other dignitaries.
``That’s not the intention of this demonstration at all, we are not protesting the Pan Am Games,″ said organizer Gerald McIvor. ``My people are living in third-world conditions in the country that’s been voted No. 1 again in the world as the best country in the world to live in.″
The opening ceremony followed an outstanding day for U.S. athletes, who bagged six medals in canoe-kayak and dominated on the field and in the pool.
Neither American soccer team gave up a goal and the men’s water polo team also blanked its opponent. The women allowed two goals in water polo, but it didn’t matter because they scored 16.
Brad Schumacher scored four goals as the men beat Colombia 18-0 in water polo, setting the tone with a defense that closed off its net.
``We have one of the best defenses in the world,″ defender Craig Kredell said. ``We showed Colombia and all the competitors in this tournament what they can expect from us.″
The women, making their Pan Am debut, got their offense together after a slow start and defeated Puerto Rico 16-2.
``Sure, we should come out a little sharper offensively,″ said Courtney Johnson, who had three goals. ``But it’s not a bad result for one of the early games of the tournament.″
On the soccer fields, the U.S. men defeated Cuba 1-0 and the women downed Costa Rica 6-0. The women, an under-20 team, struck about as quickly as possible, getting a goal from Marcia Wallis in the first minute.
The men had to play into the 57th minute to get their goal, Pete Vagenas angling in a kick from 10 yards. Tim Howard stopped six shots in a rough game marred by seven yellow cards.
``It was a good first game for us,″ coach Clive Charles said. ``We had to work hard, but in the end, we produced a result we needed.″
Stein Jorgensen of San Diego and John Mooney of Eugene, Ore., captured their second gold medals in kayaking, winning the 500-meter doubles. They were part of the four-man 1,000 squad that won on Thursday.
Kathryn Colin of Kailua, Hawaii, got silver in both singles and doubles kayak. She finished behind Canada’s Karen Furneaux in the 500 singles and teamed in the 500 doubles with Tamara Jenkins of Seattle. They also finished behind host Canada.
Two showcase events, track and gymnastics, highlighted today’s schedule. In track, medals were to be awarded in the men’s shot put and 5,000 and women’s long jump and hammer throw. Team titles were decided in gymnastics, with the U.S. women favored for the gold.