Triple triumph for golden girl Amanda Sobhy at Pan-Am Games
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
New York squash star Amanda Sobhy made Pan-American Games history by becoming the first player to win three gold medals in a single event when she led USA to victory in the Women’s Team championship.
Hosts Canada thrilled the packed crowd at the Exhibition Centre in Toronto by upsetting favourites and defending champions Mexico to win their first gold medal of the Games in the men’s event.
Sobhy, the 22-year-old world No.10 who graduated from Harvard University earlier this year, was making her Pan-Am Games debut – but, within 24 hours, she had struck gold in both the women’s singles and doubles events.
USA faced Canada, champions in both 2007 and 2011, in the women’s final. Squad number two Olivia Blatchford put the second seeds ahead with an 11-4, 12-10, 11-8 victory over Canadian Hollie Naughton before Sobhy reclaimed the title for USA with a powerful 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 win over top-ranked Canadian Samantha Cornett (both pictured above) in a repeat of the individual gold medal match.
“I was just in the zone,” explained Sobhy. “I feel like I couldn’t feel my legs tonight and I was going to do whatever came to mind and play instinctively.”
The triumphant New Yorker later exclaimed to her Twitter followers: “What a great way to end an unforgettable PanAmerican Games! 3 golds, 1 silver, and 2 bronzes for Team USA”
The team gold medal means the U.S. finishes on top of the overall squash medal standings with six, which also breaks the previous Team USA record of four total medals in 2011.
“I could not be happier for our players,” said Paul Assaiante, women’s head coach and US Squash Head National Coach. “Amanda was the star of the event with three gold medals, Olivia a gold and silver and Natalie two golds. All in all a shining success for those who competed here and for their families and for those back home in the U.S. who supported us.”
2015 is the first edition of the Pan American Games in which each Team USA player brings home a medal. A men’s team bronze, and doubles bronze for Chris Hanson and Chris Gordon, add to the women’s four medals.
Silver medallists in the past two events, Canada’s men were eager to make amends in a repeat of the 2011 final against Mexico, this time before a partisan home crowd.
In the opening match, Calgary-based world No.92 Andrew Schnell faced Mexico’s experienced former world No.33 Eric Galvez – against whom he had lost in straight games in two previous PanAmerican Championship clashes.
The 23-year-old Schnell battled for 37 minutes to overcome Galvez, eight years his senior, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 to give the hosts the lead.
Team number one Shawn Delierre, a veteran of three Pan-Am Games campaigns, then lined up against higher-ranked Cesar Salazar. The 27-year-old Mexican, winner of their clash in the 2011 team final, took the opening game – but 33-year-old Delierre regained the upper hand thereafter and stormed through to a 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 triumph in 57 minutes to clinch the long-awaited gold medal for Canada.
“I’m at a loss for words!” tweeted Schnell later. “Canada Wins GOLD at the Pan-Am Games!!!! Couldn’t have done it without my team-mates, coaches, family, or friends.”
Steve Wren, Acting Executive Director for Squash Canada, was in doubt of the significance of his team’s win: “We are extremely proud of our young athletes and their coaches for their standout achievements over the past week, especially from tonight. This is a glowing golden moment for our broader Canadian Squash Community.”
Pan-American Games Squash Championships, Toronto, Canada
Men’s Team Championship semi-finals:
 MEXICO bt [3/4] USA 2/0
Arturo Salazar bt Chris Hanson 7-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-3, 11-5 (52m)
Cesar Salazar bt Christopher Gordon 11-7, 5-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8 (57m)
 CANADA bt [3/4] ARGENTINA 2/1
Graeme Schnell lost to Rodrigo Pezzota 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-14 (74m)
Shawn Delierre bt Robertino Pezzota 11-4, 11-8, 12-10 (49m)
Andrew Schnell bt Leandro Romiglio 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 (33m)
 CANADA bt  MEXICO 2/0
Andrew Schnell bt Eric Galvez 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (37m)
Shawn Delierre bt Cesar Salazar 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 (57m)
Women’s Team Championship semi-finals:
 USA bt [5/6] COLOMBIA 2/0
Natalie Grainger bt Karol Gonzalez 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (16m)
Amanda Sobhy bt Catalina Pelaez 11-4, 11-6, 11-0 (16m)
 CANADA bt [3/4] MEXICO 3/0
Nikki Todd bt Karla Urrutia 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 (19m)
Samantha Cornett bt Samantha Teran 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 (40m)
Hollie Naughton bt Diana Garcia 12-10, 11-5
 USA bt  CANADA 2/1
Olivia Blatchford bt Hollie Naughton 11-4, 12-10, 11-8 (25m)
Amanda Sobhy bt Samantha Cornett 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 (28m)
Natalie Grainger lost to Nikki Todd 9-11 ret.
Pictures by PAIGE STEWART and from US Squash and social media