Nov. 2, 2011
Former Rice Owls women's track and field head coach Victor Lopez is the new president of the Pan American Games.
Lopez, of Puerto Rico, was elected unopposed at the inaugural Association of Pan American Athletics (APA) president, a new regional body that replaces the Pan American Athletics Commission.
The Pan American Assembly of the athletics federations was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Guadalajara on October 28th during the Pan American Games.
Lopez, is regarded as one of the foremost respected teachers in the sports of cross country and track and field. He started the Rice University women's cross country and track and field program and brought it to prominence. Lopez, a member of the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame member and Rice Hall of Fames, began his career with the Owls in 1980.
As coach of the Rice Owls, Lopez led the school to five top-10 NCAA finishes during his time at Rice. Furthermore, Lopez's Owl athletes garnered over 150 All-American honors and collected 17 individual national championship titles.
Lopez-led teams won 10 conference crowns. In addition to the 1994 cross country SWC title, Rice won the 1999 and 2002 Western Athletic Conference cross country championships. The Owls also won three consecutive WAC indoor titles from 2000-2002 and won back-to-back WAC outdoor titles in 2000-2001 and 2003-2004.
He also coached his native Puerto Rican track and field team at the 2004 Athens Olympics and was the national coach for the Olympic teams that competed in Barcelona in '92 and Sydney in 2000.
In 1990, Lopez received the IAAF's 75th Anniversary Commemorative medal for his efforts in developing track & field coaching and coaching education in Central America and the Caribbean, becoming the first North or Central American to be presented with the honor.
Lopez also played a key role in the formation of the IAAF's Coaches Commission as well as the North America, Central America and Caribbean Track & Field Coaches Association.
Lopez retired from Rice at the conclusion of the 2005 season and served as chairman of the IAAF Coaches Commission and also as president of the NACACTFCA. He has also been chairing the Central American and Caribbean Athletics Confederation (CACAC) since 1998.
He takes the helm from his countryman and former IAAF Council member Amadeo Francis, who presided over the now defunct Pan American Athletics Commission. Francis was elected as honorary president of the new body.
Another former IAAF Council member, Mexico's Cesar Moreno Bravo, was elected as honorary member.
In his acceptance speech, Lopez thanked all National Federations for their support and outgoing chairman Amadeo Francis, who was his mentor for many years.