The United States swept the two water polo gold medals at the 2019 Pan American Games. The highest ranked eligible nation also qualified to the Olympics. The eight-team tournament was split into two groups with all teams advancing to the quarter-finals. Water polo at the Pan American Games was held in Lima, Peru from August 4th to August 10th 2019.
The women’s tournament saw defending world champions United States top Group A by going undefeated and scoring at least 20 goals in each match. Brazil finished second with victories over Venezuela (15-4) and Puerto Rico (12-8) while Puerto Rico finished third thanks to a 9-5 win over Venezuela.
Group B was similarly won by Canada as they too went undefeated and scored at least 20 goals in each match. Cuba recovered from their 20-5 loss to Canada and defeated Mexico (13-4) and Peru (19-5) to finish second in the group. Mexico finished third thanks to a 22-1 victory over Peru during their opening game.
The quarter-finals were won by Brazil, Canada, Cuba and the United States whom defeated Mexico (13-3), Venezuela (22-3), Puerto Rico (14-5) and Peru (21-3) respectively. In the semi-finals Canada defeated Brazil 19-5 while the United States defeated Cuba 31-7. By reaching the finals Canada qualified a spot to compete at the Olympics. The final turned into a rout as the United States easily defeated Canada 24-4 to win the gold medal. The bronze medal was won by Brazil who defeated Cuba 8-7.
For the men’s tournament, Group A was won by the United States whom went undefeated, including a 13-11 victory over rivals Canada. Despite the loss Canada finished second in the group thanks to victories over Puerto Rico (20-7) and Cuba (20-11). Cuba finished third by defeating Puerto Rico 10-8.
Group B saw Argentina and Brazil go undefeated for their first two games, defeating Mexico (13-11 and 10-5 respectively) and Peru (12-6 and 14-2 respectively). The final group game between the two nations was won by Brazil whom scored six unanswered goals in the first quarter to eventually win 12-7. Mexico finished third in the group by defeating Peru 14-8.
The quarter-finals saw no upsets as Canada, Brazil, Argentina and the United States defeated Mexico (13-11), Puerto Rico (15-4), Cuba (9-7) and Peru (24-2) respectively. The semi-finals saw a defensive first three quarters between Brazil and Canada where the teams were tied 4-4 going into the final quarter. A flurry of goals occurred where Canada won the quarter 4-3 and the overall match 8-7. The other match had the United States easily defeat Argentina 17-1. As with the women’s final, the United States men put a beatdown against their Canadian rivals, winning the gold medal and Olympic quota 18-6. Brazil won the bronze medal as they defeated Argentina 9-6.
The three highest ranked eligible nations (Canada, Brazil and Argentina for the men and Brazil, Cuba and Puerto Rico for the women) will have one more opportunity to qualify to the Olympics. A final Olympic qualification tournament to determine the final teams will be held in 2020.
* United States