TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian sprinting sensation Andre De Grasse won his second Pan American Games gold medal in three days but it was the United States that dominated the athletics competition on Friday.
De Grasse, two days removed from winning the marquee men’s 100 meters final, delivered a stellar performance in the 200m final as he crossed in 19.88 seconds to break his own national record and set a Pan Am Games mark.
“Last night all I needed was some rest. Once I got the rest, and I woke up this morning, I felt great,” said De Grasse. “I can’t believe I did it. Somehow I just managed to pull it off. I’m really happy about this.”
While De Grasse delivered yet another sprinting title for the host nation, it was the United States who stole the show in athletics as they won four out of the nine gold medals handed out on Friday.
American world champion David Oliver, who took a pass on a more prestigious Diamond League meet in London to compete in his first Pan Am Games, won the men’s 110m hurdles final, but not before having to run the distance twice.
Oliver did not hear the officials call a false start on Cuba’s Yordan O’Farrill and so sprinted full-out to the finish line along with another runner, only to wait 30-minutes before doing it all over again.
In his second attempt, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist smashed the Pan Am Games record, which he had set as a goal, with a time of 13.07 seconds.
“I am used to doing repeat 110’s at practice, so I said ‘it would be like training’ and stayed focused,” said Oliver. “When they said we had to go again, I was like ‘alright, let’s just strap it up and let’s get ready to rock!”
The United States also captured athletics gold medals in the women’s 200m, men’s 1,500m and women’s 3,000m steeplechase.
With two days left in the multi-sport competition featuring countries from North America, Latin America, South America and the Caribbean, the United States strengthened their lead atop the medals table with 93 gold and 240 overall. Canada are second with 72 gold and 195 overall.
In women’s softball, the seven-times defending champion United States beat Canada 5-2 to reach the Saturday’s gold medal game where they will face three-times runner-up Puerto Rico, a 12-2 winner over Brazil.
The United States’ women’s field hockey team defeated Argentina 2-1 in a gold medal clash between two teams that are headed to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
An automatic Rio berth was on offer for the winner of the women’s field hockey competition but since Argentina had already qualified, the United States were assured a ticket just for reaching the final.
Argentina’s women’s handball team fell 25-20 to Brazil in their gold medal match but still qualified for Rio after securing a spot in the final against the Olympic hosts.
In men’s basketball, hosts Canada stunned the United States 111-108 in overtime to reach Saturday’s gold medal game, where they will play Brazil, who beat the Dominican Republic 68-62 in the earlier semi-final.
The day got off to a rocky start as news surfaced that a member of Brazil’s silver medal-winning men’s water polo team is wanted by Toronto police on a warrant for sexual assault.
An arrest warrant has been issued for 27-year-old Thye Mattos Ventura Bezerra, the team’s substitute goalkeeper, after a woman was allegedly sexually assaulted while she was sleeping in her residence, according to police.
“There could be other victims,” Sex Crimes Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins told a news conference. “That’s why his picture is out in the public.”
Editing by Gene Cherry
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