I have to admit something. When I read that the 2013 Pan American Juniors were taking place in Medellin, Colombia, I was surprised. When I looked at the USA Track & Field homepage for the meet, I realized that I wasn’t alone as the national body saw fit to add, “Medellin is a modern progressive city that has hosted numerous athletic events in the last few years.”
In the late 1980s, Medellin was the most violent city in the world. Brazen drug cartels, most notably the Medellin Cartel bankrolled by Pablo Escobar, ruled the city and controlled 80 percent of the global cocaine market. Forbes Magazine placed Escobar’s net worth at around $3 billion before he was killed in a firefight in Medellin in 1993.
That was the last I’d heard of Medellin. So when I ventured into Google for an update, I found that earlier this year — in a competition organized by the Wall Street Journal and Citigroup — Medellin was picked over Tel Aviv and New York as the most innovative city in the world.
That means it has done much to reduce emissions, integrate public transportation, develop marginalized neighborhoods, emphasize culture and reduce crime rates significantly over time.
So if you had concerns, there you go. The six Ivy Leaguers heading to Medellin next month (August 23-25) were either infants or not yet born when Escobar’s grip on the City was extinguished.
So here’s who we know will be there (and we are leaving like that in case athletes from other countries or new recruits emerge):
Tom Awad, Penn rising sophomore (5k run) — U.S.
Autumne Franklin, Harvard rising sophomore (400m hurdles) — U.S.
Jade Miller, Harvard incoming freshman (400m hurdles) — U.S.
Jordan Sherwood, Cornell incoming freshman (400m hurdles) — Canada
Brendan Smith, Penn rising sophomore (steeplechase) — U.S.
Rudy Winkler, Cornell incoming freshman (hammer throw) — U.S.
If you know of more, send them in!