Byron MacDonald is a pretty proud coach.
He trained University of Toronto swimmer Kylie Masse, who recently broke the world record in the 100-metre backstroke at the world aquatics championships in Budapest.
Masse is also the first female Canadian swimmer to ever win a world title — an athlete who turned down scholarship offers from American universities to stay in Toronto.
“One of the things that attracted Kylie to the University of Toronto was our tremendous support mechanisms,” MacDonald said. “We have great academic support; we`ve got two coaches that have been on national teams for Canada.”
But the veteran coach says Masse is also partly the legacy of the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.
‘Without the games, I`m not sure that incentive is there’
Masse attended a special training program that was launched after the games were awarded to this city, MacDonald told CBC Toronto.
The coach says within the few years in between Toronto being announced as the host city and the actual games themselves, new facilities, resources and programs sprouted.
“The benefits of hosting the Pam Am Games is two- or three-fold,” MacDonald said.
“There are hidden benefits that aren’t not necessarily seen by the public. The government and corporations started expanding the funding because they wanted to make sure the sports were a success, and Canada did very well,” he said.
And, he says, the influence of the games continues to echo throughout the city today.
“Without the games, I`m not sure that incentive is there.”
New pool, velodrome
The coach says the new infrastructure for the games was also a very important tool.
“Toronto really hadn’t hosted anything until we hosted the Pan Am games. It was really a spur to get the facilities built.”
The Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House is now a training spot for hundreds of swimmers in Ontario.
The Parapan Am Velodrome was also a huge gain for Ontario cyclists.
Stephen Palmer, with the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, says its opening has sparked lots of interest for first-time cyclists.
The velodrome has a program called Try the Track that has attracted dozens of new cyclists who end up developing a serious interest in the sport.
“A few people have come in … and have gone on to be national champions,” Palmer said.
“That wouldn’t have happened without this facility and the legacy the games brought.”
Palmer hopes to continue seeing the ripple…