Well done, Waterloo Region athletes!
If Waterloo Region were a country, we'd have finished tied for ninth at the Pan American Games.
Our athletes — and that includes Pavarotti, the horse owned by Don Good of New Hamburg — earned a total of 17 medals including seven gold.
That's as many gold as Ecuador, which managed 32 overall medals.
Water skier Whitney McClintock, pictured above in a Canadian Press photo, and rower Carling Zeeman, both of Cambridge earned two gold medals each. Other golds were won by Kitchener boxer Mandy Bujold, Waterloo's Brandon Horn in men's softball and Kitchener bowler Dan McClelland.
Here's a rundown of the medal performances by Waterloo Region athletes and animals, in alphabetical order:
•Nate Brannen: The two-time Olympian from Cambridge took silver in the 1,500 metres.
•Mandy Bujold: Gold in boxing.
•Brandon Horn: Gold in men's softball.
•Dan MacClelland: Gold in men's doubles bowling, bronze in singles.
•Jason and Whitney McClintock: Overall and women's slalom gold for Whitney in addition to silvers in jumps and tricks, and a silver for Jason in men's slalom.
•Jamal Murray: Silver with Canada's men's basketball team and a breakout 22-point performance in a 111-108 overtime upset triumph over the United States in the semifinals for the University of Kentucky-bound Kitchener native.
•Pavarotti: the horse, owned by New Hamburg's Don Good and ridden by Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, earned individual silver and a team bronze in the equestrian eventing event.
•Brienne Stairs and Amanda Woodcroft: Kitchener's Stairs scored the winning goal to give Canada and Waterloo teammate Amanda Woodcroft the field hockey bronze medal in a 1-0 victory over Chile.
•Jellisa Westney: The Cambridge sprinter earned bronze as part of Canada's 4 x 100m women's relay team.
•Carling Zeeman: Seen as a rising star in rowing, Zeeman dominated to win the women's singles sculls and helped Canada to an equally dominating gold medal performance in quad sculls.
Others representing Canada and the region were four-time Olympian and eight-time Pan Am Games rifle shooter Sharon Bowes of Waterloo, Kitchener soccer goalkeeper Ricky Gomes, Kitchener volleyball player Becky Pavan, Elmira golfer Garrett Rank, St. Clements judoka Martin Rygielski, 50-metre rifle shooter Greg Sych of Kitchener and Ayr BMX rider Amelia Walsh.
What does it all mean? This region produces a lot of great athletes spread across a wide spectrum of activities. And despite justifiable criticism, the Pan Am Games provided needed big-event experience in competing and winning for many of the athletes who are en route to Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games. A record-setting Canadian performance of 217 total medals and 78 gold is proof of that.
Canada won't do as well in Brazil, because the Pan Am Games aren't the Olympics. Nor do they pretend to be. That doesn't mean we, or the athletes themselves, should be any less proud of their performance.