The Pan American track championships give Canada’s athletes the opportunity to get up to speed ahead of a very important year for the program. Olympic qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has begun but the emphasis in recent years has been for development riders to get chances to compete on the world stage.

The team at the Pan American track championships reflected this two-pronged goal with young athletes getting opportunities but results being increasingly important for the Olympics. Up for grabs at the continental championships are important points for qualifying for the 2020 Olympics. After four days of competition, Canada had earned five medals at the championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

On Wednesday, Amelia Walsh of Ayr, Ontario, and Lauriane Genest of Levis, Quebec earned bronze in the team sprint.

“It’s really good. At Commonwealth Games we had a good ride but we were disqualified. So getting a good ride in this morning [in qualifying] was really important,” said Genest, “We’re already faster than at commonwealths so this is a great sign that we’re progressing well.”

Canada scored two more medals on Thursday with Hugo Barrette of Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec winning the men’s Keirin. Unfortunately, fellow Canadian Stefan Ritter crashed heavily and was taken to hospital but is expected to make a full recovery.

Barrette followed up his success in the Keirin on Saturday taking his second gold medal in the men’s sprint, a title he was defending after taking gold last year. “I’m really proud to defend my Pan Am title and I’m looking forward to the World Cup season,” Barrette said after his win in the sprint.

The women’s team pursuit squad of Maggie Coles-Lyster, Laurie Jussaume, Devaney Collier, Erin Attwell and Miriam Brouwer went head-to-head with Chile for bronze and had a strong ride lapping their rivals. The men’s team pursuit squad qualified for the bronze medal final but finished fourth.

Alison Beveridge and Stephanie Roorda teammated up in the madison to finish in second, 25 points behind the team from Mexico.

The competition wraps up on Sunday.

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