Guadalajara – The Mexican city of Guadalajara concluded the 16th Pan American Games and passed the torch to Toronto, which in 2015 will be the next site of the hemispheric sports spectacle.
The Guadalajara Games were "the best in history," providing "wonderful, spectacular" moments, Pan American Games Organizing Committee president Mario Vazquez Raña said during Sunday's closing ceremony.
For 17 days, from Oct. 14-30, 6,003 athletes competed in Guadalajara for 1,177 medals, 361 of them gold, 363 silver and 563 bronze.
Athletes in 15 of the sports were vying to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Jalisco Gov. Emilio Gonzalez Marquez thanked the organizing committee and authorities for all they did to ensure the Games' success and said that since everything went so well, "we're now aiming for the Olympics."
Gonzalez was in charge of passing the Games on to Canada, which he symbolized by handing over the flag to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Singer Florence K intoned the Canadian national anthem and the northern country illuminated the stadium red like its flag as a backdrop for images of its culture and natural beauties, such as the monarch butterflies that yearly migrate from Canada to the forests of Oyamel in western Mexico.
Before a crowd 45,000 strong, Mexican singer Eli Guerra led off the closing ceremony with Mexico's national anthem, followed by a video display of the 17 days of competition beginning with opening day last Oct. 14.
The parade of flags and the entry of athletes and judges into the stadium and the tribute to the volunteers at the Games marked some very special moments of the closing ceremony.
Before a packed stadium, prizes for the marathon winner and runners-up were awarded, with the gold going to Brazil's Solonei Silva, silver to the Colombian Juan Carlos Cardona and bronze to another Colombian, Diego Alberto Colorado.
The United States won the Games for the 14th time and the fifth straight since Havana in 1991, this time taking home 236 medals including 92 gold, followed by Cuba with 136 medals and 58 gold, Brazil with 141 and 48, Mexico with 133 and 42, and Canada with 119 and 30.
Addresses by Vazquez Raña and Gonzalez Marquez marked the end of the first part of the ceremony, followed by Toronto's moment in the limelight, after which musical groups took the stage.
The musical hits of the Mexican group Camila and the numbers they sang together with American artist Colbie Marie Caillat kicked off the concert that wound up the last night of the Guadalajara Games.
Also performing their greatest hits were the reggae band The Wailers that sang backup for Bob Marley in the 1970s, Argentine singer-songwriter Diego Torres, and finally Puerto Rico's Ricky Martin, whose performance rang down the curtain on the Games.
Mexico City hosted the Pan American Games - first held in 1951 in Buenos Aires - in 1955 and 1975.
The Pan Am Games are the world's second-largest multi-sport event after the Summer Olympics.