By Steve Keating
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada was putting a golden finish on the Pan American Games by winning five events on Saturday but with one day to go officials were casting an eye at a bigger prize -- a possible bid for the 2024 Olympics.
Emboldened by a Pan Am Games that has seen Canada post record medal totals and win positive reviews for a well-organized and entertaining competition, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) president Marcel Aubut told host broadcaster CBC that he will, “absolutely lead and advocate with the whole power of my office that Toronto becomes the host city for 2024 Olympic Games."
Toronto mayor John Tory has also refused to write off a run at the 2024 Summer Games and throwing the city's hat in a ring that already includes Paris, Rome, Boston, Budapest, Hungary and Hamburg, Germany.
But the clock is ticking and Toronto will have to decide quickly with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having set a Sept. 15 deadline for interested cities to submit a letter of intent.
The penultimate day produced another record for Canada cycling's Jasmin Glaesser, who took gold in the women's road race to claim the host's 197th medal, eclipsing the mark of 196 set at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg.
"Today, Canada broke its all-time medal total at a Pan Am Games by reaching 197 medals," COC president Marcel Aubut said in a statement. "This is an outstanding achievement and reflects the hard work of our athletes, coaches and National Sport Federations."
There was more to come as Derek Drouin, the Olympic and world bronze medalist in the high jump, and women's team foil added gold to the Canadian total.
There was also gold in the boxing ring for the hosts, Caroline Veyre winning the women's lightweight title while Mandy Bujold successfully defended her Pan Am flyweight crown with a split decision over American world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza.
Canada's newest sprint sensation Andre De Grasse, winner of the 100 and 200m titles, had looked poised to sign off with a third gold by helping Canada win the 4x100m relay.
But the team was later disqualified for stepping outside of their lane giving the top spot to the United States.
There was no disputing a dominating performance by the Americans in the women's 4x100m relay with 17-year-old Kaylin Whitney running the anchor leg to bring the baton home well ahead of Jamaica.
With one day remaining and only a handful of medals still to be awarded the United States lead with 102 gold and 261 total medals and cannot be caught at the top of the table.
Canada will finish second reaching 77 gold and surging to 215 medals overall.
The United States picked up gold in the men's team foil, women's volleyball, women's table tennis singles, equestrian individual jumping and in the ring with Antonio Vargas winning men's flyweight title.
The heat returned for the final weekend of competition but it was no problem for Cuba's Richer Perez, who won the men's marathon, and Yorgelis Rodriguez, who ended a long day with heptathlon gold.
Cubans also slugged their way to three golds in the ring with Julio La Cruz in the light heavyweight (81kg), Lenier Pero in super heavyweight (91+) and Lazaro Alvarez, bronze medalist at the London Olympics, defending his Pan Am lightweight title.
Brazil had a big day in the team events, beating Canada 86-71 for men's basketball gold and Argentina for the handball title.
The Brazilian women grabbed another gold with a 4-0 rout of Colombia in the soccer final.
(Editing by Larry Fine)