Mon, Aug 04, 2003 - Page 20 News List

US grabs up gold in PanAm Games as Cuba surprises


The Pan American Games picked up where they left off four years ago as the US took four of the six gold medals on offer. But Cuba showed signs of giving the Americans a battle by taking the other two.

Cuban shooter Eglis Cruz earned the first gold of the 2003 games Saturday after winning the women's air rifle competition.

"I came with expectations but I never thought I'd experience happiness like this," the 22-year-old Cruz said. "It's always important to win a gold. But this time I hope it has even more importance because it can pave the way for many more Cuban victories."

American Melissa Mulloy took the silver and Argentina's Amelia Fournel bronze.

Mulloy might have missed out on the gold medal, but her countrymen made up for it later in the day as the US won nine total medals.

The US women started the rush with the team gold in gymnastics, Jason Turner followed with a gold in the men's 10 meter air pistol gold, Dan Kellner won the men's foil and Sada Jacobson took the women's saber.

Cuba won its second gold medal Saturday night, taking the men's team gymnastics competition. Brazil was next, followed by the US.

The US women's gymnastics team, comprised of Allyse Ishino, Nastia Liukin, Courtney McCool, Chellsie Memmel, Marcia Newby and Tia Orlando, topped second-place Canada and third-place Brazil.

"We all had a good meet and we all did great as a team, trying to help each other," Liukin said. "We are very excited to be the first [US] gold medalist at the 2003 Pan American Games."

Turner topped Maximino Modesti of Argentina, who got the silver, and bronze medalist John Bickar of the US. Kellner got the best of countryman Jonathan Tiomkin, who took silver. Cubans Raul Perojo and Reinier Suarez each got a bronze.

Jacobson downed Alejandra Benitez of Venezuela in the final. The American's sister, Emily, won the bronze along with Ana Faez Miclin of Cuba.

At the Winnipeg games in 1999, the US won 106 gold medals and 296 total. Cuba was third with 69 gold and 156 total, trailing Canada (64 and 196).

The games, which officially opened Friday night, include 5,325 athletes from 42 countries participating in 35 events.

Defending men's soccer champion Mexico was held to a 1-1 draw by Guatemala in Group A. Diego Martinez got the equalizer for Mexico from the penalty spot in the 75th minute. Fredy Thompson opened the scoring for Guatemala in the 46th.

In another match, Dominican Republic also held Cuba to 1-1 draw. Also, the Brazilian women started strong, crushing Haiti 5-0.

In women's basketball, Yaquelin Plutin helped Cuba get off to a winning start as it continued its domination over the US, winning 84-62.

The Cubans swept the Americans in a three-game series last month in Cuba.

"It's very hard to beat a team four times in a row," said Plutin, who scored 18 points.

Ann Strother and Laurie Koehn each scored 11 for the Americans, who managed only 16 points in the second half.

In other games, Brazil topped Canada 62-53 and Argentina beat Dominican Republic 76-52. In men's basketball, Puerto Rico beat Uruguay 89-72; Brazil topped Canada 92-78; and the US downed Argentina 80-79.

Rulon Gardner, the American wrestler who upset Russian great Alexander Karelin for the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics, won his first match 4-0 over Edwin Millet of Puerto Rico.

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