Canada in Pan Am driver's seat

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2015 11:16 PM

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's remarkable start to the Pan American Games continued on Monday while Cuban kayaker Jorge Garcia brought his gold medal haul to three and Mexico showcased their diving prowess.

Colombia also enjoyed more success in roller speed skating during the third day of competition at the two-week multi-sport event featuring countries from across Latin America, South America, the Caribbean and North America.

But it was hosts Canada that again commanded the spotlight with a 17-medal day that included two golds in rowing and one each in women's all around gymnastics, canoeing, diving, shooting and judo.

With 17 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze, Canada, who set an ambitious goal of a top-two finish, lead all nations in both gold and overall medals.

The United States, who have dominated the Pan Am medal table at every Games since 1955, are second with 36 medals (12 gold), followed by Cuba and Colombia who each have 10 gold medals and 26 in total.

Gymnast Ellie Black won the most unlikely gold medal of the day for the hosts as she overtook American Madison Desch to win Canada's first gymnastics gold medal at the 2015 Games.

Black's triumph was a blow to a U.S. team that had topped the podium in every artistic gymnastics competition in Toronto, including the men's all around title earlier on Monday.

"To come here in front of the home crowd, to be able to hit my best competition, I think ever, is unreal," said Black. "This is probably one of the best for me, I can't even believe it."

Garcia, who helped power Cuba to victory in Sunday's men's K4 1000m, became the first athlete of the July 10-26 Games to earn three gold medals after winning the K1 and K2 1000m events.

Mexico, who won three of four diving events contested over the weekend, captured the gold medal in men's and women's three meter springboard on Monday while also scooping up a bronze in the women's synchronized 10m platform.

Colombia captured gold in two of the day's four roller speed skating events as Pedro Causil and Hellen Andrea Montoya Rios won their respective 500m finals while Juan Sebastien Sanz Neira won silver in the men's 10,000m points final.

"Persistence and never give up is my motto," said Montoya Rios, who also won the women's 200m time trial.

"I am 100 percent dedicated to this sport."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)