Tue, Jul 24, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Pereira fails in bid to win eighth Pan Am gold medal


Cuba's Yamara Amargo attempts to pass from the floor during a match against the US at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. The US won 78-63.


Six-time gold medalist Thiago Pereira lost both of his swimming finals and two Cuban boxers failed to show up for their quarter-final matches at the Pan American Games on Sunday.

Pereira's attempt at winning eight golds in the pool was thwarted by US swimmer Randall Bal, who won the 100m backstroke in a Pan Ams record 53.66 seconds. Pereira could finish only third, then second with his Brazilian teammates in the 400 medley relay as Bal and the US won in 3:34.37, also a Pan Am record.

"It was a good day," Bal said. "It's always good to take the gold home."

Meanwhile, Olympic and world bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and Cuban teammate Erislandy Lara didn't appear for their weigh-ins and games and Cuban officials could offer no explanation for their absence.

"They left the village and have not returned," said Pedro Roque, coach and chief of Cuba's boxing delegation.

Both of their opponents advanced to the semi-finals, earning at least automatic bronze medals.

On the final day of pool action, the US won five more gold medals, ending up winning 19 of 32 events and capturing a total of 38 medals. Brazil added two golds on Sunday for 12 golds in all and a medal tally of 27.

With his silver and bronze, Pereira, who surpassed Mark Spitz's 40-year-old record on Saturday for the most gold medals in a singles Pan Ams, overtook former swimmer Djan Madruga as the Brazilian with the most overall medals at a single Pan Ams. Madruga won three silver and three bronze in San Juan in 1979.

In the women's 200 backstroke, Teresa Crippen of the US won in a meet record in 2:10.57.

"Records exist to be broken," Crippen said. "I didn't even look to the clock; I was already expecting it."

Caitlin Leverenz of the US won the 200m breaststroke in 2:25.62, while the US team of Julia Smit, Michelle McKeehan, Maritza Correia and Kathleen Hersey won the women's 400m medley relay, beating Canada and Brazil. Smit and Hersey won a total of four golds each.

Brazilians won the women's sprints; Cesar Cielo her third gold medal at these games in the 50m freestyle in 21.84 seconds, a Pan Ams record, and Rebeca Gusmao the 100m freestyle in 55.17 for her second gold.

After nine days, the US led the medal race with 58 golds, followed by Cuba with 29 and Brazil 25.

In the beginning of athletics, Mariela Gonzalez of Cuba won the women's marathon in 2:43:11 ahead of two Brazilians -- 2003 champion Marcia Narloch (2:45:10) and Sirlene Pinho (2:47:36), who led for most of the race.

Gonzalez took the lead in the final 15km.

"My strategy was to advance progressively, without any rush and with mental control," she said. "I was trying not to waste energy."

Narloch and Pinho had to receive medical attention after crossing the finish line.

"It was too hot, but I guess you would expect that in Rio," Narloch said.

Cristina Lopez won El Salvador's first ever gold at the Pan Ams in the women's 20km walk, earning a call from Salvadoran President Tony Saca.

"I'm double happy," Lopez said. "I won a gold medal and the president congratulated me."

She dedicated the victory to her 3-year-old daughter, Monica Michelle, who has cancer in her leg.

In women's basketball, Colombia beat Argentina 68-66 behind 24 points from Yaneth Arias, while defending champs Cuba fell 78-63 to the US. Canada, Cuba, Brazil and the US are in the semi-finals.

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