by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
The Pan Am Games in Guadalajara was an interesting experience, our first time competing in an international multi-sport environment, and an understanding of the challenges that athletes face. Don’t get me wrong, the Mexicans did a great job hosting the games, but running multiple venues for multiple sports along with the athletes village would always be a tough challenge for anyone. The challenge for the athletes is not to let things they don’t control impact on their performance.
The athletes village is the hub of the games, the place where all athletes eat and sleep, and generally hang out. In Guadalajara, the village was build specially for the games, each country having their own accommodation blog with up to 6 athletes sharing a room. The United States Olympic Committee have offices within the block, and that’s where athletes needs are delivered, from ground transportation to training venues and of course competition.
All athletes eat in a central dining area, thousands of athletes all wanting to eat at the same time is a challenge, and of course, not everyone is happy eating the same thing!
The Eagles received plenty of advise prior to traveling from the USOC staff at their base at the Olympic Training Centre, basically, don’t arrive too early to the village prior to competition and don’t let anything distract you from your goals. Easier said than done with athletes moving in and out of the village daily and athletes finishing their events before others start, but one thing is certain – the whole multi sport environment creates a real buzz amongst the athletes.
As for the Eagles, day one was not the best, it started badly as the team were taken to the wrong stadium – and as they were the first game of the day, things were a bit rushed! The games on day one were a real challenge, this wasn’t an IRB World Series event, the style of play was different and a new look young Eagles team had to get to grips with each other and their opponents. In short, I defense sucked in the early games, we chased too many rucks, took too much contact and made life hard for ourselves.
Congratulations must go to Al Caravelli, head coach of the Eagles, he fixed the problem and on day 2 the Eagles just went from strength to strength. I felt for the team in the semi finals, winning 19-14 with seconds on the clock against a very experienced Canada team, a missed tackle and a try – 19-19, final kick of the game converted from wide left and its game over.
So it was bronze or nothing for the Eagles, a strong win over Uruguay and a bronze medal – well deserved and it could so easily have been gold. That’s a lesson for the future, the margins between bronze and gold are very, very small indeed, ask any Olympian!
So, that’s our first medal, we made a contribution to the USA Medal table, and came away with a some exciting new talent for the future.
Women to Compete in the Pan Am Games 2015
During the weekend we had plenty of official meetings with both USOC, Pan American Rugby Association, our friends from the North American Rugby Association and visits from the Chairman of the IRB, Bernard Lapasset and Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC.
I also spent time with Toronto 2015, hosts of the next Pan Am Games. We discussed their plans for the games and I am delighted to report that they will be including Women’s Rugby in the 2015 Pan Am games – another step forward!
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
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