York PhD student carries torch during recent Toronto 2015 Pan Am relay

Chris Chen with Pan Am mascot featured image for YFile homepage
Chris Chen with Pan Am mascot featured image for YFile homepage
York PhD student Chris Chen with the Pan Am torch during the relay
York PhD student Chris Chen with the Pan Am torch during the relay

A third-year York kinesiology PhD student was one of the torch carriers in the relay that opened the recently completed Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

Chris Chen, a member of Professor David Hood’s lab in the Faculty of Health, also volunteered at the games as an event services team leader at the new athletics stadium on York’s Keele campus.

York PhD student Chris Chen with Pachi the Pan Am Games mascot
York PhD student Chris Chen with Pachi the Pan Am Games mascot

“Before torchbearers were selected, I was already a Pan Am games volunteer. I received notification one day from the torch relay team seeking torchbearers and I applied,” he said. “I explained I wanted to be a torchbearer because of my love for large sporting events like the Olympics and how proud I was to be Canadian during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games.”

“I further explained that I was a PhD student studying kinesiology at York U and that exercise is an integral part of my research and seeing athletes perform at a high-level is really inspiring. To me, there is no better honour for the games than to hold the flame for my fellow Canadians,” said Chen.

As part of his duties as a volunteer Chen led a group of volunteers that provided services to spectators, athletes and the media. His role included  bringing athletes from their preparation area to the field of play, ensuring the media knew where they were located and helping spectators find their seats.

His research is on the study of muscle physiology and how exercise and aging affects muscle function. Specifically, he examines mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell. He is particularly interested in the molecular pathways involved in improving mitochondrial number and function through exercise. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Chen examines what goes wrong with mitochondria during muscle loss with aging.

Athletic Therapy grads and faculty volunteer at Pan Am and Parapan Am Games

York Athletic Therapy Certificate grads and faculty get ready for the Pan Am Games
York Athletic Therapy Certificate grads and faculty get ready for the Pan Am Games
York Athletic Therapy Certificate alumni volunteers who are involved in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games
York Athletic Therapy Certificate grads were among many volunteer healthcare professionals working at the Games

Among the thousands of volunteers supporting athletes as they compete for medals at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, there is a dedicated group of highly skilled Athletic Therapy graduates and faculty from York University who are working long hours to keep athletes healthy.

Frances Flint
Frances Flint

Professor Frances Flint, founder and former coordinator of the Athletic Therapy Certificate (ATC) program in the Faculty of Health at York University says that the group’s activities include helping athletes prepare for competition, providing emergency care in the event of an injury, and clinical treatments for the aches and pains that come with high level athletic competition.

According to Flint, there three levels of involvement in the Games for Athletic Therapists, the Core Medical Team, those who are dedicated to a specific sport and the Host Medical corps who provide field of play care at various venues or clinics to all athletes who do not have a medical care, relying instead on the host nation.

Working with the Core Medical Team for the Canadian Olympic Committee, which serves the needs of all Canadian athletes, is York alumna Andrea Prieur. She is part of the Core Medical team and works with Canadian athletes in the Athletes’ Village and at various competition venues. Prieur is the Head Athletic Therapist at the Goldring University Sports Medicine Centre at the University of Toronto. Prior to her involvement in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, Prieur was part of the Olympic 2012 medical team for Canada as well working on other major athletic competitions.

York ATC grad Sebastian Hartell at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games men's volleyball competition
York ATC grad Sebastian Hartell at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games men’s volleyball competition

York alumnus Sebastian Hartell works with the National Sport Federation (NSF) as a dedicated Athletic Therapist. Hartell works full time with the National Men’s Volleyball team and was at the Pan Am Games as the dedicated athletic therapist. Helen Holubec is a dedicated Athletic Therapist who works full time for Soccer Canada. Prior to the Pan Am Games, Holubec was involved with the World Cup with the Canadian Women’s team. At the Pan Am Games, she worked with the Canadian soccer teams.

Working in the Host Medical corps are Athletic Therapists who provided, and will provide, field of play care at various venues or clinics to any and all Pan Am and Parapan Am athletes who do not have their own medical care, says Flint. “Many teams coming to these Games do not have medical care and they rely on host medical to provide all of their needs,” she says.

Athletic Therapy Certificate alumni from York University are:

  • Kyra Lindsay, Pan Am Lead Medical for taekwondo and medical with karate;
  • Tyson Campbell, Pan Am Medical for basketball, volleyball and field hockey;
  • Lauren Tannenbaum, Pan Am Medical for volleyball;
  • Carlie Creed, Pan Am Medical for athletics and tennis;
  • Kevin Montgomery, Pan Am Medical for athletics;
  • Samantha Washburn, Pan Am Medical for athletics and tennis;
  • Carly Goldberg, Pan Am Medical for rugby and swimming and Para Pan Am Medical for athletics;
  • Gillian Gilmore, Pan Am Medical for field hockey;
  • Jen Mark, Pan Am Medical for field hockey;
  • Angela Nardella, Pan Am Medical for beach volleyball, triathlon, marathon and squash;
  • Sarmalla Thalagasalam, Pan Am Medical for basketball and volleyball;
  • Roville Daniel, Pan Am Medical for baseball;
  • Kalina Adams, Pan Am Medical for shooting and at the Nottawasaga Inn Medical Clinic;
  • Lily Fan,  Pan Am Medical for boxing and at the Athletes’ Village Polyclinic;
  • Kristin Hodgen, Pan Am Medical for equestrian;
  • Christine Mo, Pan Am Medical for athletics and fencing and Para Pan Am Medical for swimming;
  • Clare Richards, Pan Am Medical for field hockey;
  • Sharon Welsby, Pan Am Medical for gymnastics, road cycling (and refereeing Para Pan Am soccer 7);
  • Seadon Pereira, Pan Am Medical for rowing and canoeing;
  • Vince Fung, Pan Am Medical at the Athletes’ Village Polyclinic;
  • Julie Chiu, Pan Am Medical for table tennis;
  • Erin Brooks, Pan Am Medical; and,
  • Justin Murphy, Pan Am Medical at various Games venues.

Also working at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games are a number of York University faculty.

The Athletic Therapy Certificate faculty volunteering at the Games are:

  • Faculty of Health School of Kinesiology & Health Science contract faculty member Gus Kandilas, Lead Medical for karate;
  • Acting ATC Coordinator Jessica Patterson, Medical for beach volleyball;
  • Incoming ATC Coordinator and new faculty member Professor Loriann Hynes, Pan Am Medical for combative sports and Para Pan Am Medical for goal Ball, cycling and wheelchair rugby;
  • Faculty of Health School of Kinesiology and Health Science faculty and York ATC grad Alison Pinto, Pan Am Medical at the Athletes’ Village Polyclinic; and,
  • Founding ATC Coordinator, Professor Frances Flint, Pan Am Medical for slalom kayak and canoeing, equestrian, athletics and Para Pan Am Lead Medical for table tennis.
Frances Flint at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am canoe, kayak slalom competition
Frances Flint at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am canoe, kayak slalom competition

“Every healthcare professional volunteering at these Games had to achieve a certain level of expertise in order to work at the Games,” said Flint. “All Athletic Therapists from York are also Canadian Red Cross First Responders so they could work both in the clinic at the Games or on the field of play.”

York ATC grad Andrea Prieur treats an athlete during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games
York ATC grad Andrea Prieur treats an athlete during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

An Athletic Therapist assesses injuries and conditions, uses contemporary rehabilitation techniques, physical reconditioning and supportive strapping procedures to promote healing in order to enable a client to return to an active and productive lifestyle.

Athletic Therapy specializes in the prevention and care of musculoskeletal disorders (muscles, bones and joints) especially as they relate to athletics and injury caused by physical activity. Prevention includes musculoskeletal and postural evaluation, equipment selection, fitting and repair, warm up and conditioning programs, prophylactic or supportive taping and adapting to the activity environment and facilities.

York University offers an Athletic Therapy Certificate, for more information, visit the Faculty of Health Athletic Therapy Certificate program website.


York U student dances at Toronto 2015 Pam Am opening ceremonies

The Toronto 2015 Opening Ceremonies Powwow group

York University student Nicole Taylor wasn’t in class during the opening ceremonies of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games – but she was on stage.

The third-year mature student, who is pursuing her second degree at York U, performed with her dance troupe Dance Caribe in the July 10 event at the Rogers Centre. The performance featured traditional Afro-Caribbean costumes and movements, and was choreographed by Cirque du Soleil.

The Pan Am opening ceremonies was the largest event produced by Cirque du Soleil to date.

Taylor, who has been dancing since age seven and with Dance Caribe for the last year, said the experience was exciting.

Nicole Taylor, a third-year York University student, performed in the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games.
Nicole Taylor, a third-year York University student, performed in the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games

“This was the biggest thing I have ever done,” she said. “I loved participating in something like this. It was extraordinary.”

Dance Caribe was asked to audition for the opening ceremonies after Cirque du Soleil watched the dance company’s 25th anniversary performance in October 2014.

“They asked us to be part of the opening ceremony, so from there we had to audition and show them a few of our,” said Taylor. “They liked one of four original pieces called Afrozo, and they picked out some of the dances moves that they thought would work with their choreography, so it was essentially a mix of our dance moves, Afro-Caribbean dance, with their instructions.”

The event was organized in different sections, with Dance Caribe performing as part of the Powwow group in the Carnival section – a segment dedicated to showcasing Toronto’s broad cultural and ethnic diversity. The troupe was included in both the beginning and ending of the ceremony.

“We didn’t know the extent of the entire show, we just knew our part which was 10 minutes of the opening ceremony and then we were to come back for the end,” said Taylor. “The whole thing was surprise, and Cirque du Solei is not just good at surprising the viewers, but also the people that participate in the event. I had no idea the magnitude of it all.”

Apart from dancing, Taylor also works and attends York University. She previously completed an English degree at the University, and is now working toward a degree in communications.

The inspiration to earn a second degree, she said, came after an internship in online social media and journalism. She sees herself pursuing a career in the publishing industry.

She also said she plans to continue dancing in her spare time.

Her interest in dance began in her early years when her parents enrolled her to help connect her with Caribbean culture. It was also a way for Taylor – a shy child – to make new friends and build self-confidence.

Now, she says she feels the most confident when she’s on stage.

The Toronto 2015 Opening Ceremonies Powwow group
The Toronto 2015 Opening Ceremonies Powwow group featured Taylor and Dance Caribe

And despite her commitments to work and school, she continues to balance her responsibilities to find time for dance.

“If dance is important to you, you have to make time to make it happen,” she said.

During the lead up to the Pan Am opening ceremonies, she spent several hours a week in rehearsals that ran for months.

“I love dancing,” she said. “We were all humbled and excited to be a part of it and in the end it was a lot of work, but it paid off.”

With the ceremonies now behind her, Taylor might slow down but says she will always make time for dance.

Submitted to YFile by Hamid Adem, York University’s student Pan Am Communications Officer


York U athletes earn medals at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

Pan Am Medals, photo: Canadian Mint
Pan Am Medals, photo: Canadian Mint

The Toronto 2015 Pam Am Games wrapped up on Sunday after two weeks of exciting competition and York University students and alumni finished the event with five medals.

Khamica Bingham
Khamica Bingham

Current Lions track & field student-athlete Khamica Bingham capped the excitement at the CIBC Athletics Stadium on York University’s Keele campus by anchoring the 4 by 100-metre relay team that won the bronze medal on Saturday night. Bingham is a third-year humanities student in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and has represented the Lions for the past two seasons, winning a total of four gold medals at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships and five at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships while also setting a new national mark in the 60-metre this past February at 7.19 seconds.

Bingham also reached the final of the 100-metres last week, the only Canadian woman to do so. She finished in sixth place in a personal-best time of 11.13 seconds.

Former Lions women’s hockey player Autumn Mills took her athletic talents to the baseball diamond and helped Canada win the silver medal in the sport’s first ever appearance at the Pan Am Games. She pitched the semifinal game against Venezuela on Saturday – a four-hit gem en route to a 6-1 victory – and was also the started in a round-robin game against the same team earlier in the competition. She previously played for the Lions for five seasons from 2006-11.

Other former student-athletes who represented Canada at the games included volleyball player Melissa Humana-Paredes and track & field athlete Dontae Richards-Kwok. Humana-Paredes just missed out on a medal with a fourth-place finish in the beach volleyball competition alongside partner Taylor Pischke, and Richards-Kwok helped Canada advance to the final of the men’s 4 by 100-metre relay by running the third leg in the semifinals.

Arthur Biyarslanov
Arthur Biyarslanov

The biggest splash made by a York student came in the boxing ring, where psychology major Arthur Biyarslanov won the gold medal in the light welterweight division with a split-decision victory over Cuba’s Yasnier Toledo in the final. The gold medal represented Canada’s first in men’s boxing at the Pan Am Games since 1975.

The two other medals were won by third-year humanities student Katrina Cameron, who claimed a pair of bronze medals in rhythmic gymnastics in the group ribbon and group clubs/hoops events.

Rounding out the York student involvement in the Games was Kailah Macri, a recent kinesiology and health science graduate, who finished fourth in roller figure skating.

AGYU’s ‘Ring of Fire’ will set Toronto ablaze with cross-cultural energy

Toronto is set to bear witness to one of the most extraordinary images of its cosmopolitan self.

On Aug. 9 at 12 pm, Ring of Fire, a commissioned procession by internationally renowned artist Marlon Griffith, takes to the streets of Toronto.

Ring of Fire costume construction
Marlon Griffith in York’s sculpture studio working on the large scale production of Ring of Fire during the Louis Odette Sculptor in residence program, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design. Photo: E. Chhangur

This 300-person strong street procession, punctuated by spoken word poetry by some of Toronto’s most promising “word-warriors,” weaves through the heart of Toronto’s downtown core, along University Avenue from Queen’s Park to City Hall. At 2pm, the procession culminates in a round dance worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records, an unbelievable image to open Toronto 2015’s cultural program at Nathan Phillips Square that day.

The procession is based on the Marlon Griffith’s concept drawing showing the costume for courages of wisdom, courage, respect, honesty, truth, humility and love. Each of these themes will be dramatized in the elaborate, custom-designed costumes and newly conceived mobility devices that structure the “bands” of the procession. Importantly, these teachings are also the ethical basis of the project and inform the working principles it is made up of.

The artist's concept rendering for the mask representing "courage".
The artist’s concept rendering for the public mask of Courage

More than two years in the making, Ring of Fire features persons with disabilities, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, capoeira athletes and young spoken word poets from Jane-Finch, Malvern and Regent Park. The procession redefines public ritual in the city of Toronto. As a project dedicated to the future of Toronto, it is made by Torontonians for Torontonians through the multigenerational and transcultural contribution of hundreds of people from across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. Members of the public are invited to join Ring of Fire by emailing procession@theAGYUisOutThere.org.

Using the structural dynamic of Trinidadian Carnival and appropriating the “mas camp” as a site of co-authored exchange, this elaborate and multifaceted project innovates a new kind of pedagogy. From spoken word poets learning from First Nations and deaf youth who sign their poems in the procession, to institutions and organizations learning from persons with disabilities (and becoming more accessible in the process), to mixing integrated dance with traditional forms of capoeira, this project seeks to mobilize Toronto’s latent energy and position it as a place for a new form of collective and performative cultural resistance that is also a contemporary form of festive celebration.

Marlon Griffith's concept drawing showing the costume for courage
Marlon Griffith’s concept drawing showing the costume for the sentinel Courage
Duke Redbird works with the community for Ring of Fire
Duke Redbird works with the community for Ring of Fire

Griffith has participated in residencies and exhibited extensively across the globe. Recent projects include new commissions for 7th GWANGJU BIENNALE (Gwangju, Korea, 2008), CAPE09 BIENNIAL (Cape Town, South Africa, 2009), Manifesta 9 Parallel Projects (Hasselt, Belgium, 2012), Aichi Triennale (Nagoya, Japan, 2013), Tate Modern (London, England, 2014) and the Art Gallery of York University (see May 25 YFile story). In 2010, Griffith was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a Commonwealth Award.

Ring of Fire is commissioned by the Art Gallery of York University and curated by Emelie Chhangur. The project is produced in partnership with York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, Art Starts and SKETCH, where “mas camps” have been developed and hosted. Legendary artists, activist Rose Jacobson and elder Duke Redbird (MA ’78) are project mentors.

Editor’s note: The Ring of Fire website contains a wealth of images documenting each stage of the event and the participation of the many community partners. There’s also a Ring of Fire Instagram that offers a dynamic visual story of the work as it progresses. Visit the AGYU’s Instagram account at https://instagram.com/a_g_y_u/.

Work by Inuit artists Ruben Komangapik and Koomuatuk Curley on display at York U’s Gales Gallery

Komangapick sculpture
Komangapick sculpture

Inuit artists Ruben Komangapik and Koomuatuk (Kuzy) Curley have been commissioned to create a monumental stone and bronze sculpture at York University, which is a host venue for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. Their piece, titled “Ahqahizu”, will be installed beside the Stong House at the northwest corner of York’s Keele campus at the end of summer.

Image above: Ruben Komangapik, "Aurora Borealis", 2012. Harp seal skin, amethyst, moose antler, copper and wood, 51.5 x 112.6 x 182.8 cm. Created with support from the Quebec Arts Council | Conseil des artistes québécois
Above: Ruben Komangapik, “Aurora Borealis”, 2012. Harp seal skin, amethyst, moose antler, copper and wood, 51.5 x 112.6 x 182.8 cm. Created with support from the Quebec Arts Council | Conseil des artistes québécois
Above: Koomuatuk Curley, "Connected Transformation", 2014. Bowhead whalebone, Aberdeen serpentine and caribou antler
Above: Koomuatuk Curley, “Connected Transformation”, 2014. Bowhead whalebone, Aberdeen serpentine and caribou antler

While work on the sculpture is underway, visitors are invited to view a maquette of “Ahqahizu” and a selection of the artists’ individual work, which is on display in the Gales Gallery until July 24. The Gales Gallery is located in Room 105, Accolade West Building, Keele campus. Admission to the gallery is free. Hours of the exhibit are 11am to 4pm.

Aptly called Tatigi (an Inuktitut word for teamwork), the show is curated by Britt Gallpen and School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) Associate Dean Anna Hudson. The show offers a special opportunity to explore Komangapik’s and Curley’s unique styles and creative interests, and to imagine the end result of their joint project.

“Ahqahizu” is being carved from a 26-tonne block of Stanstead granite. It is the most ambitious collaborative sculpture ever undertaken by two Inuit artists from Nunavut. To complete the project, Komangapik and Curley have gathered a team of assistants and apprentices, including undergraduate and graduate students in the visual art program in AMPD, along with other York University community members who are lending their skills and respect for creative cultural traditions.

The exhibition Tatigi and the scultpure commission “Ahqahizu” are part of Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, a multi-media, multi-platform collaborative research and creation project supported by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada.

President’s message: Go Lions! Go Canada!

York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri
York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri
York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri
York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri

York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri has issued the following message to the University community:

Friday, July 10, marked the official opening of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. In venues across the Greater Toronto Area, nearly 7,000 athletes from more than 40 countries in Latin America, South America, the Caribbean and North America will be participating in world-class competition in 36 Pan Am and 15 Parapan Am sports.

Canada has had the honour of hosting the Games twice in the past, but this is a first for the province, for the city of Toronto and the surrounding region, and for York University.

As Canada sends its largest delegation ever of the nation’s top athletes to this multisport event, York University is proud to host two venues for the Games on our Keele campus – the Canadian Tennis Centre, which hosts the 80 Pan Am tennis athletes who will compete at the Games, and our new CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium, which will host the track and field events.

York students and grads will be competing for glory in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games
York students and grads will be competing for glory in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. Above, from left, alumna Melissa Humana-Paredes, alumna Autumn Mills, psychology major Arthur Biyarslanov, LA&PS student Katrina Cameron, LA&PS student Khamica Bingham, recent grad Dontae Richards-Kwok, alumna Kailah Macri and alumnus Daniel Novia. (Not pictured: Daniel Gaysinsky)

In addition to serving as a host venue, we are extremely proud that a number of our current and former York athletes are representing Canada on home soil at the Games. Two of our sprinters – current student Khamica Bingham and recent graduate Dontae Richards-Kwok – will be racing for the podium. Volleyball player and alumna Melissa Humana-Paredes aims for gold, while Kailah Macri, a graduate of our kinesiology program, will compete in figure roller skating. Current psychology major Arthur Biyarslanov contends in the boxing event, and Daniel Gaysinsky will compete for Canada in karate. Katrina Cameron, a third-year humanities student, joins her rhythmic gymnastics teammates in her second Pan Am competition. Alumna Autumn Mills will make history on the first Pan Am women’s baseball team, and Daniel Novia, a graduate of our psychology program, will compete in the men’s hammer throw.

We congratulate each of these outstanding athletes for representing Canada and York University at the Games. Their inspiring achievements are the result of tremendous drive, determination and hard work over many years. To show our support and to share our good wishes, I encourage all members of the community to visit the RED Zone in Vari Hall this week to sign cards that have been prepared for each of the competing athletes. The cards will be available for signing from Monday, July 13, to Thursday, July 16, from 10am to 4pm, and on Friday, July 17, from 10am to 3pm. For more information about the athletes and the Games, visit panam2015.info.yorku.ca.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the entire York community in making the Games a reality. As our athletes head into competition, they do so supported by a wide array of dedicated individuals – from coaches, trainers, teammates and event volunteers to classmates, professors, families and friends. Our staff, students and faculty have been preparing for the Games for months, and many have joined the team of over 23,000 volunteers assisting at host venues during the Games. We thank you for your support and enthusiasm as we mark this milestone moment for York University and as we continue the legacy of our remarkable sporting history.

I encourage you to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of celebration, excellence and pride that this event offers as it brings together the diverse cultures, peoples, nations and athletes of the western hemisphere.

I wish everyone an excellent time at the Games, and on behalf of the York University community, good luck to each of the participating athletes. Go Lions! Go Canada!

York University welcomes the Brazilian Pan Am Team to campus

Pan Am welcome graphic for the Brazil team
Pan Am welcome graphic for the Brazil team

Pan Am welcome graphic showing Brazil flag and the words welcome to York UApart from being a host venue for 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games this summer, York University will welcome the Brazilian Pan Am team to campus.

Starting on June 28 and leading up to the games, the York Keele campus will be home to some 150 members of the Brazilian Pan Am team, including team coaches, athletes, officials and a medical team.

Craig Okazaki, facility operations manager at the Tait Mackenzie Centre, says Brazil reached out to York U to find space to train prior to the games and has since sent a scout group to the University to check out the Keele campus and its facilities. “A lot of the Olympic organizations scout for areas to train in prior to an event in order to give their athletes time to prepare within that climate and area,” says Okazaki.

“[They] toured the facilities, to have a look not only at sports facilities, but have a look at the dining hall, residences, campus in general, to see what it’s like [here on campus].”

The Pan Am Games officially start on July 10 and run until July 26. Athletes from 41 different countries will participant in 48 different sports, ranging from soccer, field hockey, judo and wrestling. Following the initial games, the Parapan Am Games will run Aug. 7 to 15 and will involve 28 different countries and 17 different sports, including swimming, archery, powerlifting and table tennis.

The Brazilian medical team will be the first to arrive as they will need to set up and prep while the rest of the team arrives shortly afterwards. “[The Brazilian Pan Am team] will be staying at Calumet Residence and their numbers will go up to 150 midway through the games and then down again [once they are done],” says Okazi. “The medical [crew] will arrive first and set up and then after the athletes leave they will dismantle everything and send it back.”

This is not the first time a sporting organization has made use of York University’s sports facilities as the University hosted and housed athletes during the 2012 Ontario Summer Games and the Toronto Argonauts football club is training on the Keele campus until the end of June.

Even so, not all of the Brazilian athletes will be staying on campus, as they will be split between York U and the dedicated Pan Am Athletes’ Village in downtown Toronto. Where exactly they will be situated depends on the proximately to their sporting venues and training facilities.

To better accommodate their athletes during their stay on campus, the Brazilian team brought one of the chefs from Aramark Canada, the primary food provider for York University, to Brazil to in order to train with their Olympic team, learn the spices and cooking techniques of Brazilian food.

While housed on the Keele campus, Okazaki says the Brazilian team will eat together as a group and will have a meal plan, but he anticipates they will venture out and eat on campus following their competitions. Apart from the residences and dining hall, Brazil will be using the Tait Mackenzie Centre to train in for a variety of sports in addition to training at other facilities throughout the GTA. Brazil will be using the main gym at Tait for their men’s and women’s basketball teams, the west side field house for their wrestling team, upper gym for their judo team and the fitness center and weight room for any additional training.

The athletes and Brazilian Pan Am team will also be given YU cards that will allow them access to Tait so that they can practice uninterrupted. The YU card will also allow the team to purchase food. During their stay, Okazaki says the Brazilians will have access to the Underground, York Lanes and the Orange Snail Restaurant. They’ll also enjoy a leisure area in the Calumet courtyard where they socialize, rest and relax.

Submitted to YFile by Hamid Adem, York University’s student Pan Am Communications Officer

Humana-Paredes to represent Canada at Pan Am Games

FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championships 15.06.14, Summer Sports Resort, Myslowice Foto: Conny Kurth / 2014 FIVB
Above: Melissa Humana-Parades (left) with partner Taylor after winning the FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championships 15.06.14, Summer Sports Resort, Myslowice  Foto: Conny Kurth / 2014 FIVB
Above: Melissa Humana-Paredes (left) with partner Taylor Pischke after winning bronze medals at the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championships. Photograph by Conny Kurth 

Former York University Lions women’s volleyball player Melissa Humana-Paredes has been named to the Canadian beach volleyball team for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto this summer.

Humana-Paredes, a Toronto native, will play alongside longtime partner Taylor Pischke, who is from Winnipeg. The two of them are rising stars on the beach volleyball circuit and are currently ranked No. 10 in the world. They have represented Canada at multiple international events, winning bronze medals at the FIVB world U23 championships in back-to-back years (2013-14) and finishing fourth at the 27th Summer Universiade in 2013.

The duo also won the NORCECA championship last year and have twice finished fifth at World Tour events this season, in Fuzhou, China, and Sao Paolo, Brazil. Humana-Paredes was also named the FIVB rookie of the year in 2014.

Both of them also had standout varsity careers. While with the Lions, Humana-Paredes was an Ontario University Athletics all-star three times and a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-Canadian in 2012, and also earned York’s female athlete of the year that same season. Pischke played for the Manitoba Bison and helped them win the CIS gold medal in 2014.

The beach volleyball competition will run from July 13 to 21 at the Chevrolet Beach Volleyball Centre at CIBC Pan Am Park.

Psychology major Arthur Biyarslanov is York University’s Pan Am hopeful in boxing

York University’s boxing hopeful
York U's boxing hopeful
York U’s boxing hopeful Arthur Biyarslanov

Arthur Biyarslanov, an undergraduate student in York University’s Faculty of Health, is getting ready to secure his berth in the boxing division in the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Participating in a high-level competition in boxing wasn’t always the aim for Biyarslanov, who started boxing at 12 and was pushed into the sport by his brother as a means for self-defence. “At first I hated it and didn’t want to pursue it at all, until I started winning nationals and beating the best in the country.[Then] I knew I could make a career out of it,” says Biyarslanov. “[But now] I want to be the best in the world and be an idol to young kids and athletes all over the world.”

Having just completed his first year of studies in the psychology program, Biyarslanov is excited that the Pan Am Games are being held in Toronto as it sets the stage for a home advantage.

“I am really glad and happy that it’s in my hometown, mainly because I will have all my friends and family here to watch and support me. When I go to international tournaments they don’t get the chance to watch me,” says Biyarslanov.

“[Pan Am] is one of the biggest tournaments in the world,” he notes, “and [since] it’s happening in my hometown, this gives me some edge over my opponents with the crowd and positive energy.”

Nicknamed the Chechen Wolf, Biyarslanov isn’t the only competitor in this sport. There are 10 men’s divisions and three women’s divisions. He admits that he has his work cut out for him, but he seems up for it. “My goal is to win the Pan American Games and my ultimate goal is to win the 2016 Olympics,” he says.

“I am now 20, and in five years I see myself in pro boxing with a good amount of wins, going for the world title. After I get my title, I will defend it for many years and retire undefeated In Sha Allah (God willing).”

As the games approach, Biyarslanov is hard at work training out of the Atlas Boxing Club, but credits his inspiration and dedication to his family and craft.

“My biggest inspiration would definitely be my brother and my mother,” he says. “They keep me on the right track and support me, and give me inspirational and motivational lectures when I am feeling moody. Boxing keeps you fit and healthy, it is very useful for self-defence, strengthens your will and keeps you out of trouble.”

Set to start on July 10, the Pan Am Games will run until July 26 and will attract approximately 6,135 athletes from 41 nations. This will be the largest athletic competition in Canada’s history, with more than double the number of athletes at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The games will host 48 different sports.

Biyarslanov will compete at the Oshawa Sports Centre, which is the Pan Am venue for boxing. The boxing portion of the Games runs from July 18 to 25.

Submitted to YFile by Hamid Adem, York University’s student Pan Am Communications Officer