2023 Pan American Games by the Numbers
The field hockey competition of the 2023 Pan American Games will open in Santiago, Chile, on Wednesday October 25, in the brand-new Estadio National, which will also be used later in the year for the FIH Hockey Junior Women’s World Cup.
The first hockey competition at the Pan American Games took place in 1967 and was only for the men, with the women joining in 1987. It is now the continental Olympic Qualifier, with the winner in each gender earning the coveted ticket for the following Olympic Games.
On the men’s side, 12 of the 14 Finals have opposed Argentina and Canada. Argentina has earned the lion’s share with ten gold medals (including the last three in 2011, 2015 and 2019) while Canada has been on top of the podium four times (the last time in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro).
Amongst the 2023 qualified men’s teams, Argentina, Canada and the USA are the only three having participated in all 14 Pan American Games; Argentina have always finished either first or second, Canada have always been on the podium, except in the inaugural event in 1967, and the USA have won five bronze medals over the years (the last one in Lima in 2019).
Chile participated 13 times, earning four bronze medals. Trinidad and Tobago participated 12 times but only managed a silver back in 1967. Mexico participated ten times, claiming the silver medal in 1971 and bronze medals in the two following events (1975 and 1979).
Brazil played for the first time in the Pan American Games as host of the 2007 competition, then finished in a very credible fourth in 2015 (validating their Rio 2016 Olympic Games participation as host).
The Argentinian men will once again be favorites in Santiago. They are the highest ranked team from the region in the FIH World Rankings (8th) and, even if a number of regular stalwarts hung up their sticks after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the younger generation has had two years of participation in the FIH Hockey Pro League to refine their skills, cohesion and tactics against the top teams in the world.
The Canadian Red Caribous are the next highest ranked team (18th) but have been much rejuvenated since the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with only limited opportunities to play since then. Their only competitions were the 2022 Pan American Cup (where they finished third, missing the qualification for the 2023 FIH Hockey Men's World Cup) and the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Chilean Diablos, playing at home, will certainly be a team to watch. At the 2022 Pan American Cup, also on their home turf, they went toe-to-toe twice with Argentina (2-3 in pool play, then 1-5 in the Final). Pushed by their enthusiastic fans, they earned a well-deserved first-ever qualification for the World Cup.
Argentina will play in pool A with Chile (World Ranking 25th), Mexico (30th) and Peru (43rd). In pool B, Canada will face the USA (22nd), Brazil (35th) and Trinidad & Tobago (41st).
On the women’s side, Argentina were in the Final of all nine Pan American Games played so far, against either the USA or Canada. The South Americans won seven gold medals, with the USA only interrupting their domination twice (in 2011 and 2015). Argentina, Canada and the USA monopolized all the medals over the years, with only three other countries managing to grab a medal: Chile (bronze in 2011), Netherlands Antilles (bronze in 2007) and Uruguay (bronze in 2003).
Amongst the 2023 qualified women’s teams, Argentina, Canada and the USA are the only three teams having participated in all nine Pan American Games. Cuba participated seven times, achieving their best finish (fourth) in 1995. Chile and Trinidad and Tobago participated six times, Mexico five times and Uruguay four times.
Ranked 3rd in the FIH World Rankings the Argentinian Leonas will once again be the overwhelming favorite of the competition. After winning the 2019 Pan American title (5-1 vs. Canada), they reached the Final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and 2022 FIH Hockey Women's World Cup in Terrassa, losing both to The Netherlands by the same score (3-1). They also topped the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2022 and finished on the heels of The Netherlands in the most recent edition, so they had ample opportunities to play against top opposition.
Chilean Diablas (ranked 14th in the world) are closely leading Canada (ranked 15th) and the USA (16th). They will however benefit from the support of the enthusiastic home crowd, which greatly helped them reached the Final of the 2022 Pan American Cup and earn an historic first qualification for a World Cup. They will also be boosted by their win over Argentina in the recent ODESUR Games in Paraguay (in shootouts after a scoreless draw), and will have additional mental energy in the memory of their long-time goalkeeper Claudia Schuler, who tragically passed away earlier in the year.
Canada, runner-up at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, and qualified for the 2022 World Cup, will arrive in Santiago with a much-rejuvenated squad and new coaching staff. They however had limited competition exposure since last summer, while the USA benefited from their participation in the FIH Hockey Pro League to earn valuable experience against top international teams.
Argentina will play in pool A with the USA (World Ranking 16th), Uruguay (25th) and Trinidad & Tobago (48th). In pool B, Chile will face Canada (15th), Mexico (29th) and Cuba (40st).