Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because the Pan Am Games are leaving their mark

Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because the Pan Am Games are leaving their mark

(Image: Derek Shapton) (Image: Derek Shapton)
 

For years, Toronto has been a sporting backwater. When our amateur athletes excel, they do so despite meagre funding, anemic development programs and a lack of proper training facilities. But all that is about to change: when the Pan Am Games launch next month, Toronto will morph into a techy athletics hub, with all the shiny new buildings and toys a $1.4-billion budget can buy. The most magnificent monument to athletic glory is the Field House and Aquatics Centre at U of T’s Scarborough campus. Until now, Toronto had only two Olympic-size pools, one on the main U of T campus and the other in Etobicoke. (Melbourne, by comparison, has 19.) The new 400,000-square-foot, $205-million Aquatics Centre represents one of the largest investments in Canadian amateur sporting history. In addition to its two 50-metre pools, it features a dive tank, a gym big enough to house four basketball courts, and an oval track with motion-capture technology and pressure sensors for performance diagnostics. The Pan Ams are the world’s third largest international sporting event, after the Summer Olympics and the Asian Games. Long after the Cirque performers have contorted, the medals have been distributed and the spotlight has faded on Toronto, a new generation of athletes will be able to train like pros. And that’s the biggest prize of all.