For the first time since squash’s inclusion to the quadrennial Pan American Games in 1995, Team USA claimed both the men’s and women’s team gold medals, adding to a record total of five gold medals and seven medals overall Wednesday night, July 31, in Lima, Peru.
The milestone results came at the end of a dramatic day that included both men’s and women’s team semifinals and finals. On the women’s side, Team USA became the first nation to successfully defend a women’s team gold medal against Canada, while the men upset the top two seeds–Mexico and Colombia–to bring home the nation’s first men’s team gold medal.
For the second consecutive Pan American Games, Team USA ends the seven-day competition on top of the squash medal standings, contributing seven medals to Team USA’s leading total of sixty-five as of July 31. A total of 6,668 athletes representing forty-one North and South American nations are competing in thirty-nine sports and 419 medal events, July 24-August 11.
The U.S. men and women entered Wednesday’s team semifinals and finals having already won five medals, including women’s singles gold, women’s doubles gold and men’s doubles gold–Team USA’s first men’s squash gold medal in any event since 1995.
The top-seeded U.S. women opened proceedings Wednesday morning with a 3-o victory over 3/4 seeds Mexico to set up a repeat of the 2015 final against two seeds Canada. The finals were poised with two rematches of the women’s singles semifinal match ups. Amanda Sobhy put Team USA on the scoreboard first with an 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 win over Hollie Naughton. Olivia Blatchford Clyne then sealed gold courtesy of a marathon 15-13, 21-19, 11-7 victory against Samantha Cornett.
With the team gold, Amanda Sobhy–world No. 8–replicates her 2015 Pan American Games record of being the only male or female squash player to ever win three gold medals in a single year following her singles and doubles gold this weekend. Sabrina Sobhy, a recent Harvard graduate, marked her maiden Pan American Games with two gold medals, including a women’s doubles gold with her older sister.
“It’s pretty special for us. I mean, not many people get to say that they compete with their family members,” Amanda said. “This is Sabrina’s first Games, and we’re playing not just for us but for our family and country. It can’t get much better than that.”
Blatchford Clyne, world No. 20, joined Amanda Sobhy in earning three medals, including the team gold, women’s singles silver and mixed doubles bronze.
“We very much had a ‘pressure is a privilege’ mentality,” Blatchford Clyne said. “It was quite special to know that you’re the hunted, and, instead of fearing that, we chased after our goals. We approached this tournament with a ‘so much to gain’ rather than a ‘so much to lose’ mentality.”
While the U.S. women decisively fulfilled their top seeding, the U.S. men had to put in two breakthrough performances against respective gold and silver medal favorites, Mexico and Colombia.
Led by world No. 21 Cesar Salazar, top-seeded Mexico earned a 1-0 lead over the U.S. as Salazar defeated American No. 1 Todd Harrity 11-8, 11-8, 11-7. At the No. 2 position, Cesar’s twin brother, Arturo, earned an early advantage over Chris Hanson by taking the first game 12-10. The two-time American champion then put together a three-game comeback, surmounting deficits in the third and fourth games to level the score 10-12, 11-4, 11-7, 14-12. Penn rising junior Andrew Douglas then stepped up in the biggest match of his career to date, coming back from 2-1 down against former world No. 35 Alfredo Avila to punch Team USA’s ticket to its first ever men’s team final.
The final against two seeds Colombia had a similar rhythm as Harrity lost against 2015 gold medalist and world No. 9 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in a close four games. Once again, Hanson gave the U.S. new life with a 3-0 win over Juan Camilo Vargas to level the score at 1-1. Twenty-year-old Douglas then sealed the historic result by defeating Andres Felipe Herrera 11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 11-8.
Harrity and Hanson celebrate their second unseeded gold medal run of the tournament, following up their men’s doubles success as 3/4 seeds this weekend. Hanson praised his teammate Douglas for his mature performances in high pressure situations.
“I am still in utter shock,” Hanson said. “I wish I had his composure when I was twenty. It’s just unbelievable what he did tonight and what we’ve done as a team. I’m speechless.”
The U.S. delegation was led by the Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach Paul Assaiante, Coach Thierry Lincou and US Squash Director of National Teams Adam Hamill. Two referees, Hope Prockop and Paul Alexander also represented the U.S. in Lima.
For more Team USA coverage of the Pan American Games, visit teamusa.org/lima2019.