Brazil falls short of medal aims at Pan Am; bad omen for Rio

TORONTO (AP) Brazil is failing to meet medal expectations at the Pan Am Games, placing more pressure on the host country for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Marcus Vinicius Freire, the head of performance for the Brazilian Olympic Committee, acknowledged Friday that Brazil is likely to fall short of matching its total of 141 medals from the Pan Am Games four years ago.

”For some disciplines we were maybe weaker than we expected,” Freire said. ”From now until next year we’re going to be monitoring to see what we can do to improve the performance.”

Olympic host nations typically get a ”home-field” bounce, and Brazil is trying to almost double its medal take of 17 from the 2012 London Games.

Brazil will spend about $700 million in public and private money in training athletes in the four-year cycle leading up to Rio, double what it spent in the previous four-year cycle.

There has been no apparent initial upturn on that investment; a concern for a country spending $12 billion to organize next year’s Olympics.

Brazil has been particularly weak in track and field.

”This is a transitional time in athletics,” Freire said, pointing out that Brazil has hired many new foreign coaches.

”We’ve understood the lesson,” he added. ”Going back home were going to continue a conversation to see what needs to be done for next year.”

Both Freire and Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the head of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, tried to put a positive spin on poor performances.

”We had an objective,” Freire said. ”It was difficult but achievable. Now we know what we need to work on for next year.”

Through Friday, Brazil was in third place with 124 medals, 35 gold. The United States, which sent what officials called a ”B and C team,” leads with 240 medals and 93 gold. Host Canada is second with 195, 72 gold.

The games end Sunday and Freire said reaching 141 was still possible. He chided a Brazilian reporter who said the performance had been poor.

”I don’t agree with your comment,” he said. ”I think that we achieved the objective we wanted to achieve. Right now we’re in third in the medal count, which was our goal, and the games are not over yet.”

Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP