Lee expects Games to be rip-roaring success
Carlos Lee admits that returning to Toronto as Bermuda’s chef de mission for the Pan Am Games will be extra special having studied in the city almost three decades ago.
Although Lee has experienced the Pan Am Games as an athlete, representing Bermuda in field hockey in Indianapolis in 1987, this will be the first time he has served in such a capacity at a major competition.
Having already visited Toronto to inspect the competition’s facilities along with other delegates, Lee said he was left in no doubt that Canada’s largest-ever sporting event would be a rip-roaring success.
“All of the facilities in Toronto are either new or have been refurbished,” said Lee, who studied for his MBA at York University.
“At some Pan Am Games a lot of events are far apart, but none of the events at these Games will be held more than an hour away [from the centre of Toronto].
“I anticipate Toronto will be a very well-organised Games in terms of the infrastructure and I’m sure it will be very well-supported by the populous here.
“I went to school in Toronto and I know the area; it should be a great experience.”
As chef de mission, Lee will be responsible for all aspects of Bermuda’s team in the build-up to and during the Games, helping support the athletes to produce their best performances.
He said the all-encompassing role has almost resembled a full-time job during the months leading up to the Games.
“There’s been a lot of preparation work that’s gone into this,” said Lee, who has served as a BOA official for the past seven years.
“Some people think all you have to do is get the plane tickets and off you go, but there’s so much organising that goes on behind the scenes, trying to co-ordinate everything.
“You have to make sure you know everything, especially in terms of the drug testing; you have to make sure your athletes and officials are aware of that.”
Lee has fond memories of his previous Pan Am Games experience, which he describes as the highlight of his sporting career.
“The ‘87 Pan Am Games was a great time for me,” he said. “Bermuda didn’t come last and finished seventh or eighth out of ten teams.
“It was pretty competitive with the United States, Argentina, Canada, all the best teams in the region.
“The top teams gave us a schlacking but we were really competitive with everyone else.”
Lee said he was proud to be “responsible” for such a talented team, including top-class athletes such as triathlete Flora Duffy and long jumper Tyrone Smith who he believes are capable of bringing home a medal.
Smith has been in scintillating form this season, winning at this month’s World Challenge Mohammed VI d’Athletisme de Rabat in Morocco with a leap of 8.20 metres. Duffy, however, has been forced to temper her medal expectations after having her preparations derailed by shin splints.
“I’m really pleased to be responsible for this team,” Lee said. “It’s amazing for a country that’s so small to produce so many athletes who are world-class.
“We could possibly come home with a medal and that really excites me. I think the equestrians [Patrick Nisbett, Jill Terceira and Virginia Mckey] will be very competitive. A top 15 is not out of the realms of possibility.
“We also have a world-class long jumper [Smith], who could medal if he can reproduce the kind of form he shown so far this season.
“A fully fit Flora Duffy is easily top five, so I’m cautiously optimistic that we could come away with a medal.
“Then there are the young athletes like sailor Ceci Wollmann and swimmer Julian Fletcher, who are both coming on in leaps and bounds.”
More than 6,000 athletes from 41 nations will participate in 36 sports in Toronto, with a record of 45 per cent of competitors expected to be women.
Canada has previously hosted the 1967 and 1999 Games, both in Winnipeg, Manitoba.