SANTIAGO, Chile — Charles Philibert-Thiboutot dived across the finish line to win the men’s 1,500-meter race on Thursday night and give Canada its first track and field gold medal at this year’s Pan American Games in Chile.
Philibert-Thiboutot, 32, cried in disbelief when he saw he had secured the win in 3 minutes, 39.74 seconds, two one-hundredths of a second ahead of fellow Canadian Rob Heppenstall, who earned the silver medal.
American Casey Comber won the bronze medal in a cold and damp National Stadium in Santiago, Chile.
Philibert-Thiboutot said he had “never before” dived across the finish line.
“I saw that Rob (Heppenstall) was leading, I saw we could go one-two and then I remembered that I really wanted to win gold,” he said. Earlier this week, Philibert-Thiboutot won the silver in the men’s 5,000-meter race.
Heppenstall, 26, didn’t sound too disappointed about the result. The two Canadians hugged and held the country’s flag together in front of a raucous crowd in Santiago.
“I am finishing 2023 in a high note, one of the best my career, I couldn’t ask for a better finish,” Heppenstall said.
Shortly after the 1,500-meter race, shot putter Sarah Mitton gave Canada its second track and field gold medal at the Pan American Games.
The two golds Thursday gave Canada 37 gold medals with two more days of competition, which is already more than the nation had four years ago at Lima, Peru.
Philibert-Thiboutot had a series of injuries that stopped him from running at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but will be competing in Paris next year. He said the win at the Pan American Games gave him some reassurance he can fight.
“If I don’t have to dive there, even better,” he jokingly said.
Image credits: AP