Published on March 13th, 2014 | by John Lyons


Fans have already made the Games a big success

As we enter the second half of the South American Games, John Lyons reflects on what we´ve witnessed so far…


The big question before the Games started in Santiago last Friday was whether the Chilean public would get behind them.

There has been a resounding answer to that question: Yes. Okay, the fact that the tickets are predominantly free has no doubt helped, but it´s still been surprising to see packed crowds at virtually all the sports.

Indeed, people have been stuck outside because the demand has been so great. The sportsmen and women have appreciated the fact that venues have been full to the rim, the fans have got behind them and created a fantastic atmosphere.

As for the competitors, well, Chile´s top stars have by and large stood up to be counted. Tomás González bagged two gold medals in the gymnastics while the likes of Barbara Riveros (triathlon), Kristel Kobrich (swimming) and Felipe Miranda (water-skiing) have also topped the podium.

There is so much sport going on around Santiago and the fifth region that it´s difficult to keep track of everything that´s going on – and there´s still lots to look forward to.

Chile have bagged 13 gold medals up to now, but need to push on in the second half of the competition if they´re going to hit their 30 target.

However, it would be wrong to say that everything has been hunky-dory at the Games. There have been cock-ups and bungles along the way.

The ticketing system left a lot to be desired and the fact that changes were made with the Games well under way reflected that. The process of acquiring free tickets seemed unnecessarily complicated and the people who had to wait for hours in queues to collect their tickets would agree with that.

There were complaints the opening ceremony was too backward-looking and didn´t focus enough on Chile´s youth and energy. TVN were widely criticised for their ad breaks in the middle of the ceremony, too, while the normally mild-mannered Tomás González criticised their lack of Sunday coverage.

The serious cycling accident to Chile´s Irene Aravena was something that should have been avoided. In the modern pentathlon, Chile´s Esteban Bustos felt as though he´d been robbed of a gold by a faulty pistol.

But in an event of this magnitude, it´s inevitable that there are going to be some mishaps. Overall, though, you´ve got to say that the Games have been a great success.

The pundits said beforehand that Chile´s hasn´t got a sporting culture, but it looks as though they are well and truly mistaken. The diet of Colo Colo, la U and Universidad Católica news that people are force-fed all the time could be in for a slight change.

Top-class facilities like the Centro Acuático, Velódromo and Gimnasio Polideportivo also give Chile a chance to broaden its mind and its habits. That old cliché of ´the legacy´might actually mean something.

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