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Pan Am Roundup: Canada wins seven track medals in solid day at Pan Am Games

07/21/2015 05:26 EDT | Updated 07/21/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - A threadbare Canadian track and field team came home with just four medals at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Canada's athletes have already more than doubled that modest total after just one full day at the track in Toronto.

The host nation picked up eight medals in athletics, including four gold, in Tuesday's competition at the 2015 Pan Am Games. With gold and silver from Sunday's 20-kilometre race walk, Canada leads all nations in athletics with five gold medals and is tied with the United States at 10 medals overall.

Toronto's Shawnacy Barber and Vancouver's Elizabeth Gleadle set the tone early with a gold medal each.

Barber equalled a Pan Am record, clearing 5.80 metres to win gold in men's pole vault and Gleadle won gold in women's javelin with a throw of 62.83 metres on her sixth and final attempt.

"I'm having a really phenomenal year for me, I'm hitting the marks that I dreamed of," Barber said.

Gleadle was trailing American Kara Winger when she stepped up to take her final javelin throw, clapping her hands to get the crowd going.

"I was thinking 'Oh no, I'd better get it together,'" Gleadle said. "I was standing there and I thought to myself 'I bet the Canadian anthem would sound a whole lot better from the podium if I was on it,' so that inspired me to throw better."

Canada earned more medals in evening competition, with Matt Hughes winning gold and Alex Genest taking silver in the men's 3,000-metre steeplechase and Mohammed Ahmed wining the men's 10,000 metres.

Hughes, form Oshawa, Ont., finished the steeplechase in eight minutes 32.18 seconds with Genest, from Shawinigan, Que., right behind in 8:33.83. Cory Leslie of the U.S. won bronze.

"It was about competing for the fans that paid good money to come watch us race, and family and friends, and you don't get many opportunities to compete on a stage like this," Hughes said. "Toronto is like home for me as well, so winning in front of your family and friends is something you don't get to do very often.

"I probably will never run a major championships in Canada ever again, because there will probably never be one in my career."

Hughes pulled away from the pack with three laps to go.

"I made a similar move in the national championships a few weeks ago, so I was confident in that move," he said. "I was hoping that Alex knew when I was going to go."

Ahmed, from St. Catharines, Ont., won the 10,000 in 29:49.96, ahead of American Aron Rono (28:50.83) and Mexico's Juan Luis Barrios (28:51.57).

Tim Nedow from Brockville, Ont., earned silver in the men's shot put with a throw of 20.53 metres. Jamaica's O'Dayne Richards won gold with a throw of 21.69 metres, breaking the Pan Am record previously held by Canada's Dylan Armstrong.

"I've been throwing 20.50 all year, so there was no excuse not to throw it here, so I am glad I did that," Nedow said.

Sultana Frizell of Perth, Ont., took bronze in the women's hammer throw with a toss of 69.51 metres, while Toronto's Nikkita Holder won bronze in the women's 100 hurdles in 12.85 seconds.

Canada ended Tuesday with 59 gold, 53 silver and 48 bronze. The host nation has won at least one gold in each day of medal competition.

The United States leads with 69 gold and 183 total medals. Brazil is third with 32 gold and 110 medals.

Sprinter Andre De Grasse will be looking to add to Canada's medal haul. He ran 10.06 seconds in winning in his 100-metre heat to qualify for Wednesday's semifinals.

Elsewhere, Canada's women's and men's table tennis teams each came away with a bronze medal.

The men lost their semifinal match 3-0 to Brazil while the women fell 3-0 to the United States.

Fencer Hugues Boisvert-Simard of Quebec City added bronze in the men's epee.

The men's basketball team opened with a comfortable 105-88 win over the Dominican Republic. Brady Heslip of Burlington, Ont., led Canada with 24 points.

"He's kind of becoming a guy that you can't leave off of the team," Canadian GM Steve Nash said of Heslip. "He just brings something to the table that is so valuable. Every time the level is raised, he finds a way to raise his game to that level. As you saw tonight, he was a special player. You don't want to bet against a guy like Brady. He figures it out."

Montreal boxer Caroline Veyre advanced to the women's lightweight final with a split decision win over Mirquin Sena of the Dominican Republic. Veyre will face Argentina's Dayana Sanchez in the final on Saturday.

Mandy Bujold will also get no less than a silver medal after she earned a split decision over Colombia's Victoria Valencia in the semifinals of the women's flyweight tournament. The defending Pan Am champion from Kitchener, Ont., will face American Marlen Esparza on Saturday.

Toronto's Arthur Biyarslanov beat Argentina's Lucas Giminez on points to advance to the semifinals of the men's light welterweight tournament.

In the last boxing match of the night, Ariane Fortin of Saint-Nicolas, Que., settled for bronze after losing her middleweight semifinal bout to Yenebier Guillen Benitez of the Dominican Republic.

The Canadian men's field hockey team moved on to the semifinals with a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. The Vancouver trio of Iain Smythe, Matthew Sarmento and Scott Tupper provided the offence while goalkeeper David Carter, also from Vancouver, preserved the clean sheet for the Canadians.

Canada came form two sets down to beat the United States 3-2 and advance to the men's volleyball semifinals.

Toronto's Melissa Humana-Paredes and Winnipeg's Taylor Pischke just missed a chance at winning Canada's first Pan Am beach volleyball medal, falling 2-0 to Brazil in the women's bronze-medal match.

Canada thumped Venezuela 9-3 to improve to 2-0 in women's baseball. But in women's softball, the Canadians were routed 7-0 by their American rivals.

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