Cuban rowers defect, Canada still on top

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 15, 2015 11:30 PM

By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Four Cuban rowers ended their Pan American Games by defecting to the United States on Wednesday while a wave of support continued to carry Canada to the top of the podium at the pool and on the rowing course.

With the Henley rowing venue just a few kilometers from the U.S., Leosmel Ramos, Wilber Turro, Manuel Suarez and Orlando Sotolongo all made the short trip to the border but at different times according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Gymnasts Jossimar Calvo Moreno of Colombia and Canadian Ellie Black turned the attention back to the sports as they signed off with a Games' high five medals.

Disappointed at not being able to successfully defend his all-around crown, Moreno added apparatus gold on the parallel bars and horizontal bar on Wednesday to the pommel horse gold and two bronzes he won in the individual all-around and team competitions earlier.

"From the time I came here, I came with the mindset of writing history individually and as a group," said Moreno, who won the all-around title at the 2011 games aged 17. "Its been a long process but we came here and we did it.

"The group won a medal and it's the first time Colombia has a medal as a team."

Black also struck double gold on the beam and floor on the final day of the gymnastic competition to go along with gold in the all-around, silver in the team and bronze on the vault.

The U.S. swim team got their first gold of the Games with Olympic champion Allison Schmitt storming to victory in the 200 meters freestyle.

Schmitt, who won five medals at the London Olympics, clocked one minute, 56.23 seconds to demolish the old Pan Am record that had stood since 1979 by more than two seconds.

The Americans, however, had little other else to celebrate with Sean Lehane their only other gold medal winner in the 200 backstroke.

Adding to the U.S. frustration was the men's 4x200 freestyle relay team was stripped of the silver medal when Michael Weiss was disqualified for swimming with tape on his fingers elevating Canada.

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Kierra Smith also took gold in the women's 200 breaststroke while her team mate Hilary Caldwell won the 200 backstroke.

Canada also continued to dominate the rowing, picking up gold in the men's eights, women's quadruple sculls and men's lightweight coxless fours.

Canadian rowers ended the competition with 11 total medals, including eight golds. No other country had more than two.

Canada leads after the fifth day of competition with 33 gold but the Americans began to narrow the gap and finished the day a close second with 28.

The U.S. have the most total medals with 85 followed by the home nation on 82.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)