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New West rugby player claims silver at 2023 Pan American Games

Four of five athletes that represented their hometown or birthplace of New Westminster medalled during the two-week event in Santiago, Chile.
New West-born rugby 7s player Caroling Crossley (back row middle) smiles with the Canadian national women's team after settling for silver in the 2023 Pan American Games final.

Caroline Crossley earned the highest medal of the five New Westminster athletes — born, raised or both — that competed for Canada at the 2023 Pan American Games.

The 25-year-old rolled through to the Santiago 2023 final with the national women's rugby 7s team in hopes of repeating Lima 2019 gold.

However, despite holding a 12-7 lead in the second half, the United States scored 12 unanswered points, 19-12, to reach the top of the Pan-Am podium and the Canadians settled for silver.

It's Crossley's second medal in consecutive appearances at the quadriennial event that pinned 41 North, Central and South American nations together — with spots at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics on the line.

She was also one of two New West Pan-Am veterans that wore the maple leaf in Chile.

The other was two-time Olympian Brenden Bissett, who won the last game of the men's field hockey tournament to claim bronze. 

The 30-year-old midfielder tore up the turf to a 3-2 victory for Canada over the United States to win his third medal, settling for silver at the 2015 and 2019 Pan American Games.

The colour also matches the bronze Bissett and Team Canada won at the 2022 Pan American Cup, which also took place in Chile.

Crossley and Bissett were two of four New Westminster athletes that medalled at Santiago 2023 — one silver and three bronze in total.

Gymnast Sydney Turner finished third with Canada's women's artistic gymnastics squad in the team event on Oct. 22, while Kaila Butler landed on the podium with a bronze in women's hammer throw on Nov. 2.

Long-distance runner Addy Townsend placed eighth int he women's 800-metre final, crossing the finish line in eighth with a time of 2:09.02, which was more than six seconds behind first place.

The 25-year-old SFU Athletics alumna placed second in her semifinal with a time of 2:06.62 to reach the final race at Estadio Nacional.

Townsend's personal best international finish was seventh place at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Ore.