Taylor Abbott Upgraded to Pan Am Games Silver Medal in Men’s 10K

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Taylor Abbott with his silver medal from the 2019 Pan Am Games; Photo Courtesy: USA Swimming

The United States Olympic Committee on Wednesday announced three upgraded medals from the 2019 Pan American Games, including Taylor Abbott in the men’s 10-kilometer open water.

Abbott had finished third to secure bronze in the race, his time 1:54.02.7. The gold from the race in Peru last summer remains in the hands of Ecuadorian Esteban Enderica. But silver medalist Guillermo Vitto Bertola of Argentina was banned for four years for an illegal blood transfusion before a race in 2018. The ban, handed down in June, stripped him of his silver.

Wednesday, that went to Abbott, the University of Tennessee grad. He was presented the medal Wednesday in a virtual ceremony hosted by the Pan American Sports Organization.

“It was a long process,” Abbott told USA Swimming. “I’m so appreciative that (Team USA and the Pan American Sports Organization) worked to finally get me the medal and do the ceremony. It’s all really cool and exciting and I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

Abbot’s medal was one of three re-classified by the USOC and Panam Sports. Boxer Naomi Graham went from silver in the women’s middleweight competition. Karate athlete Kamran Madani is now the gold medalist in the men’s -84 kilogram event.

“I’m overjoyed to be upgraded to the gold medal and to be named the Pan American champion,” Graham said in a press release. “Thank you to the United States Army for the continuous support so I am able to compete at such a high level while still serving my country. I would also like to thank the USOPC and Panam Sports for their commitment to clean and fair sport, and congratulations to Taylor and Kamran on their sport success and upgraded Pan American medals as well.”

“On behalf of the USOPC, I congratulate these terrific athletes on their performances in Lima. While we regret it is not possible to give them back their celebratory moment at the Pan American Games, we are thrilled to honor them today,” USOPC President Susanne Lyons said in a press release. “Doping has no place in the Olympic and Paralympic movements, and we will continue to work diligently until we can ensure athletes around the world are competing fairly. Today we are one step closer towards the equitable playing field our athletes – and all athletes – deserve.”

“It’s imperative that every athlete is competing in a clean and fair environment, and I’m proud of Panam Sports and the USOPC for standing strong in that commitment,” Panam Sports President Neven Ilic said. “I send my sincere congratulations to Naomi, Kamran and Taylor for their medals and thank them for their outstanding performances in Lima last year.”

For Taylor Abbott, who is retired from competition, the medal gleaned after his career has ended is both unusual and deeply appreciated.

“I’m really thankful that I had the opportunity to represent Team USA on so many occasions,” Abbott said. “That was something I was always really proud of. For six years in a row, I represented Team USA in some fashion. So for things to culminate in me getting on the podium and now getting a silver medal at a senior-level international meet, representing Team USA, is just amazing.”

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