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Canadian national team rugby winger develops taste for gold

It didn't matter to 18-year-old Taylor Paris that he'd broken his left foot at the Pan American Games.

When the whistle signalled the end of the rugby final between Canada and Argentina at the Pan Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico, last month, it was time to celebrate. Paris may have planted his foot wrongly, or it may have been stepped on during the second half of the seven-a-side championship game. But the pain was suspended when the clock ticked down to zero and he took to the pitch on crutches.

"I got onto the field with the rest of the gold-medal team. I didn't care if it hurt," the Barrie, Ont., winger said Tuesday. "We set a goal of a gold medal in the first time that rugby was in the Pan American Games."

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Canada's Pan Am gold augurs well for the game's inaugural appearance at the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, he said. In the interim, he will push Canada's fortunes at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and the 2015 Pan Ams on home soil. The 2015 Pan Ams will unfold in 17 Southern Ontario communities, including Toronto.

"It will be the first time Toronto's seen something like this, a massive Games," said Paris, who clomped around a news conference Tuesday in a walking cast. It will be January before he can resume training.

Ian Troop, chief executive officer of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015), unveiled a comprehensive four-year partnership agreement with Chevrolet Canada, making Chevrolet a premier partner of Toronto 2015.

The company had previous North American Games experience at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2010 Games in Vancouver. About 1,000 vehicles, including vans, passenger vans, SUVs, trucks and extended-range electric vehicles will be used.

The Pan Ams was the second time Paris had been part of a Canadian team in a multisport gathering. The first had been at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. He learned the hard way there. Rugby is a strong sport in Commonwealth countries and Canada missed the medal round, which was dominated by New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and England.

"It's an accident of birth, but I figure I'll be the perfect age for the 2016 Olympics. Maybe the 2015 Pan Ams in Toronto will jump-start me.

"Playing the 2015 Pan Am tournament at home could add some pressure – I'm thinking about it already – but it's also an opportunity. I've been playing for the national team for two years now and my family has never seen me play."

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Rugby is one of approximately 38 Pan American Games sports, Troop said. The final location for the cycling velodrome still is up in the air, he said, after the municipal government of Hamilton decided it could only be responsible for $5-million in the project. Troop said he is in discussions with two other municipalities who could make offers to be cycling hosts. "The ground rule is that Toronto 2015 will provide 56 per cent of the investment in the sport facility and the municipality 44 per cent," Troop said.

Hamilton still will have the bulk of the Pan American soccer and volleyball tournaments, he said.

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Sports reporter

James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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