Confident Canada arrives in Guadalajara for Pan Am tournament
Canada's sevens team has arrived in Gudalajara, Mexico, a week ahead of the Pan American Games in order to get used to the high altitude and hot conditions in the host city.
The team arrived late Friday, after two weeks of training for most of the squad in Victoria, British Columbia.
With two late changes to the squad, seeing Tyler Ardron and Sean White coming in for Kyle Gilmour and Adam Kleeberger, coach Geraint John is eager for the team to hit the training pitch with vigour.
The majority of the squad has been training in Victoria for two weeks, while some players from across the country, including Rugby World Cup squad member Conor Trainor, arrived out west earlier this week.
However, eight of the 12-man squad played together during the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, so John is confident in their ability to mesh in a short time.
"We're keeping the continuity going with this squad," John said. "This event is just as important to us as the Rugby World Cup. We're excited. We're going into a competition that we're in the running to win. In the international circuit we're up against big names to win it, but we're going into a competition where we're going in with a genuine chance of winning it.
"We believe we've got a shot at winning this and the guys are excited about that."
While in Victoria, the team had a tough hit out before departing, with three training sessions on Wednesday, including weights, skills, conditioning and a hit out against the University of Victoria.
"We're very grateful to UVic for accommodating us with a full-contact hit out, it was very beneficial for the players," John said.
Now in Gudalajara, John plans to put the squad to work early in preparations, with a recovery session and two-a-days Saturday and Sunday, before a training session and scrimmage against Guyana on Monday.
"Gudalajara is at altitude so we've arrived a little earlier to become acclimated to the altitude and the heat," John said. "We're going to stat the week with some tough training for the guys before calming it down to prepare for our games.
With a squad mixed with regular sevens athletes and players returning from the Rugby World Cup, John is looking forward to three hard days of competition at the Pan American Games.
"The players that were in Canada training are healthy and the players that went to the World Cup are not battered," he said. "They're fit and ready and we're happy about that. Everyone's excited for the competition."
Canada will face U.S.A, Brazil and Chile in the pool stage of the tournament. Following that, the pools cross over, with first place in Pool A playing fourth in Pool B and second crossing over to play third, to begin the knockout stages.
The other pool consists of Argentina, Uruguay, Guyana and Mexico.
The Pan American games, which features international teams from all around the Americas zone, is integral to both the development of Sevens, for both the sport and the Canadian team, in preparation for Olympic inclusion in Rio de Janiero in 2016.
The tournament began in 1951 and is held every four years. The 2011 fixture sees Canada send its largest contingent of athletes ever, with 493 competitors travelling for the tournament. In total, 6,000 athletes from 42 countries will attend, competing over 39 sports, as part of the qualifying process of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Canada's last Pan-American Games performance in 2007 resulted in a third-place finish overall, with a medal tally of 138, including 39 gold.
Toronto will host the next Pan Am Games in 2015.
Canada vs Chile
Canada vs Brazil
Canada vs USA
Canadian Sevens Team
Tyler Ardron (Peterborough, ON) (Ontario Blues)
Nanyak Dala (Saskatoon, SK) (Prairie Wolf Pack)
Sean Duke (Vancouver, BC) (British Columbia)
Matt Evans (Duncan, BC) (Unattached)
Ciaran Hearn (Conception Bay, NFLD) (The Rock)
Nathan Hirayama (Richmond, BC) (British Columbia)
Phil Mack (Victoria, BC) (The Rock)
John Moonlight (Pickering, Ontario) (Ontario Blues)
Taylor Paris (Barrie, ON) (Ontario Blues)
Mike Scholz (Oakville, ON) (Ontario Blues)
Conor Trainor (Vancouver, BC) (British Columbia)
Sean White (Victoria, BC) (BC Bears)
40 Vogell Road
Richmond Hill Ontario L4B3N6