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Steve Armitage: Why you'll love the Pan Am Games

07/02/2015 01:28 EDT | Updated 07/02/2016 05:59 EDT
The CBC's Steve Armitage started covering sports in Canada in 1965. You've heard his voice at the most important sporting events across the world for the last fifty years, including 15 Olympics. In 1982, he won the Foster Hewitt Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting. In just a few days he will be the voice for the CBC's coverage of swimming, diving and synchro events during the Pan Am Games.

He spoke with the CBC's Conrad Collaco about the Pan Am events and athletes that have him most excited in the days before the games.

Here's an edited and abridged transcript of the interview with Armitage. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the image at the top of this page.

Steve Armitage on the Pan Am Games

Q. Most Canadians are much less familiar with the Pan Am Games than with the Olympics. What should we know about the caliber of competition we'll see in southern Ontario during the games?

S.A.: The Pan Am's aren't as big as the Olympics and for a lot of athletes they don't replace the world championships. For swimmers the Pan-Pacific games are probably more important. The Pan Am's would probably be fourth or fifth in the grand scheme for most Canadian athletes but the appeal will be that they get to compete on home field, home pool and home courts. I think that will be a major advantage.

Q. Which athletes are you most excited to see?

In the events I'm covering, among the Canadian athletes in swimming, diving and synchronized swimming, I look forward to seeing Ryan Cochrane compete. He is, arguably, the best 1,500 metre swimmer in the world right now. Cochrane should win this event easily. I'm looking forward to American Natalie Coughlin.She has won 12 Olympic medals and 18 Pan American Games medals. I'm really looking forward to seeing the 'fab four' of Canadian diving. The Mexicans swept all eight gold medals at the games in Guadalajara. I can guarantee you that won't happen again.

Q. What do you expect from Team Canada flag-bearer, Mark Oldershaw of Burlington, in canoe competition?

It's an honour long overdue. He has been one of our best paddlers for many years. His family has led paddling down through the years at numerous events. On the Welland Canal, he will have home water advantage, something he has never experienced at a major competition. The Canadian kayak and canoe team will win a lot of medals, including Mark Oldershaw. It's a very good team.

Q. How will Canada do in the Pan Am Games soccer tournament?

The traditional powers like Brazil and Argentina will send strong teams but you won't see Lionel Messi playing. Most South American teams are so deep in talent they can send a "B" or "C" team and still be very competitive. Canada will have a good team. The women's team will be different than the World Cup. It will be younger players but also very good.

Q: A new pool was built for the Pan Am Games, a new stadium in Hamilton and a velodrome in Milton. How important are these new facilities for Canadian athletes in the future?

One of the big advantages for Toronto and Hamilton is that they will pass on the legacy to future generations. Prior to building the pool complex in Scarborough, there was no place to hold a world class event in the city. Now Scarborough will be able to go out and bid for major world class events. This is long overdue. There will be many athletes who will use that facility for many years to come.

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