Wed, Aug 06, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Cuba continues to grab up gold medals

PAN AM GAMES The small Carribean country had an great showing on Monday in wrestling and then picked up another gold in women's epee

AP , SANTO DOMINGO,DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Nastia Liukin of the US performs on the balance beam. She won the silver medal in the Woman's Artistic Gymnastics all-around finals during the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Monday.

PHOTO: AFP

Cuba won another gold medal at the Pan American Games, increasing its total to 12, while the US picked up three more.

But it was Cuba's teams that impressed the most Monday, a day after the country's Greco-Roman wrestling team won all seven gold medals offered.

The women's basketball team advanced to the semifinals after winning its third straight game, the baseball team blanked Brazil 4-0, and the men's and women's volleyball teams each won.

Eimey Gomez was Cuba's golden girl for the day, winning the women's epee in fencing. She beat Sherraine MacKay of Canada 15-5.

"We knew we had prepared well and we came in with lofty expectations," Cuba's Sports Minister Angel Iglesias said. "Our aim is to beat our 1999 gold medal count of 69. We're hoping to take home at least 75 this time."

Also, Argentina won its first gold medal Monday, winning the 10 meter air rifle in shooting. The US added two silver medals and a bronze to its leading tally in the overall count.

Athletics start Tuesday at the Olympic Stadium.

Yaquelin Plutin scored 18 points and Yudith Aguila added 15 as Cuba jumped to the top of the women's basketball standings after crushing Argentina 83-57. Cuba is the only undefeated team left in the field.

The Cubans started strong and led 22-6 after the first quarter. The early lead allowed Cuba coach Jose Ramirez to test different players, and substitute Pokpa Victores responded with 11 points.

Argentina was led by Erica Sanchez with 16 points, while Natalia Rios added 13 and Laura Nicolini 11.

"We started poorly and it cost us," Argentina's Noelia Mendoza said. "We must forget it and think about the games that follow."

Argentina still has to play the US and Canada. Cuba will face Canada and Brazil in its final two games.

Later Monday, the US beat Brazil 77-64, snapping the South American team's winning streak.

The top four teams in the six-team group advance to Friday's semifinals. The two medal matches are set for Saturday.

In baseball, Cuba had a relatively easy time with Brazil, winning its second straight game 4-0 as Yosvani Aragon allowed just two hits in seven innings and Yulieski Gourriel drove in two runs.

"They dominated us with sliders and fastballs," Brazil manager Mitsuyoshi Sato said.

Cuba, traditionally a power-hitting team, has won both its games with pitching.

The team has yet to hit a home run at the games.

In another baseball game, Nicaragua's Cairo Murillo threw a no-hitter against Guatemala. He struck out four and allowed four baserunners, three on errors.

Cuba's defending champion men's volleyball team added to the success, beating Puerto Rico 3-1 (31-29, 25-22, 22-25, 25-17).

"We were hard-pressed and we only found our rhythm in the fourth set. The team is young and inexperienced, but the important thing was to win our first match," said Cuba captain Pavel Pimienta, who added that the overall success is motivating the entire delegation.

Tomas Aldazabal was the leading scorer for Cuba with 24 points, while Hector Soto got 15 for Puerto Rico. Cuba plays Canada on Wednesday.

Men's volleyball world champion Brazil also won, beating Canada 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 27-25).

The Cuban women blanked Venezuela 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-16).

In the air rifle shooting final, Angel Velarte of Argentina won the gold while Collyn Loper of the US took the women's trap.

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