Toronto, July 14, 2015: Top seeds Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the world No.4 from Colombia, and Amanda Sobhy, the world No.10 from the USA, claimed gold in the 2015 Pan American Games squash singles finals in Canada – Sobhy winning her first Games medal at the Exhibition Centre in Toronto and Rodriguez becoming the first squash player to successfully defend a PanAm Games title.
Rodriguez, a 29-year-old from Bogota in his 11th year as a squash professional, faced rising star Diego Elias, the 18-year-old world No.43 from Peru who became his country’s first ever world champion after winning the World Junior Championship title last year.
It took the experienced Colombian 88 minutes to see off underdog Elias, a 3/4 seed who upset second-seeded MexicanCesar Salazar in the semi-finals.
Rodriguez won the first game 11-9 before the Peruvian teenager snapped back to draw level for the loss of just three points. From ten-all in the third, favourite Rodriguez clinched the next two points to open up a 2/1 lead before capitalising on unforced errors from his opponent in the fourth to close out the match 11-9, 3-11, 12-10, 11-8.
Diego is a very good player who is beginning to excel on the circuit,” said Rodriguez (pictured above, in yellow, with [L to R] Elias, and bronze medallists Shawn Delierre & Cesar Salazar). “I know him well. He played like a champion.
“Everybody expected me to win gold again – it was not easy,” added the highest-ranked South American player of all-time.”I felt all the pressure of Colombia on me – but fortunately I finished with gold.”
The women’s final – an all-USA clash – was a swifter affair. Sobhy faced US team-mate Olivia Blatchford, a fellow 22-year-old, also from New York, who secured her surprise place in the final after upsetting No.2 seed Samantha Teran, the defending champion from Mexico.
Sobhy, making her Pan Am Games debut but playing her third match of the day after two doubles battles in the event, brushed aside Blatchford 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 in just 22 minutes.
“I am absolutely thrilled to have won the Gold Medal in the singles!” said Sobhy (pictured above [2nd left] with [L to R] Blatchford and bronze medallists Samantha Cornett & Samantha Teran). “This is my first PanAmerican Games, so to be able to win a gold medal for not only myself, but for the US and squash in the United States is a huge honor.
“Congrats to my teammate, Olivia Blatchford, for getting the silver medal. Having an all-American final with the US getting the Gold and Silver medal just goes to show how much squash has progressed in the United States over the past few years.
“While the PanAmerican Games is a huge event for us, a real dream come true would be to stand up there with an Olympic Gold Medal around my neck!”
RESULTS: Pan American Games Squash Championships, Toronto, Canada
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [3/4] Diego Elias (PER) 11-9, 3-11, 12-10, 11-8 (88m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [3/4] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 (22m). —- Images courtesy of Paige Stewart