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‘The city was on a high’: 1999 Pan Am Games held in Winnipeg 20 years ago

Jul 23, 2019

Twenty years ago this week thousands of athletes from across the Americas made their way to Winnipeg to compete in the 1999 Pan American Games.

And Winnipeg welcomed them all with open arms.

The games, which officially kicked off with opening ceremonies July 23, 1999, brought more than 5,000 athletes from 41 countries to Winnipeg, and saw more than 20,000 Winnipeggers roll up their sleeves as volunteers to make sure everything went off without a hitch.

“The city was on a high,” remembers Janet McMahon, who acted as the game’s sports operations manager and now works as Sport Manitoba’s director of sport.

“There was just an amazing vibe happening everywhere … things that were previously unimaginable for Winnipeg suddenly seemed possible.”

Canadian athletes won a total of 196 medals that summer — second only to the Amercians — and the 17-day event put an international spotlight on Winnipeg that created a pride in the city McMahon says can still be felt today.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Pan American Games, 680 CJOB is doing a deep dive looking at the legacy left behind by games by speaking with the athletes who took part and the organizers who helped make the event a success.

Listen to the live coverage here over the next few weeks.

RELATED VIDEO: Canada Summer Games inspiring young Winnipeggers to stay active


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