Canada easily meets goals

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY LORI EWING TORONTO

From Day 1 of the Pan Amer­i­can Games, Curt Har­nett says he knew Cana­dian ath­letes “were in it to win it.”

By the fi­nal day, Canada’s chef de mis­sion and his team of 717strong were bask­ing in the most suc­cess­ful Pan Am per­for­mance in Cana­dian history.

“One podium per­for­mance quickly fol­lowed another, en route to our Top 2 place in the medals ta­ble,” Har­nett said Sun­day at the Cana­dian team’s clos­ing news con­fer­ence. “Like a par­ent, I could not be more proud, with each and ev­ery ath­lete on Team Canada. You de­liv­ered.”

Canada set an am­bi­tious goal of fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the medal stand­ings, and brought the team to do it. From swim­mer Ryan Cochrane, to de­cath­lete Damian Warner, to kayaker Adam van Ko­ever­den, Canada fielded not only its largest ever team, but ar­guably strong­est, for Toronto. It was a who’s who of ath­letes who will shine on sport’s big­gest stage at next sum­mer’s Rio Olympics.

Canada’s women’s kayak team of Michelle Rus­sell, Em­i­lie Four­nel, KC Fraser and Han­nah Vaughan kicked off the record run with gold in the K-4 500 on the morn­ing of Day 1, in the first event of the Games.

And by the time the women’s base­ball team capped Canada’s run to the podium with a sil­ver medal, the host na­tion had amassed 217 medals, 78 gold, 69 sil­ver, and 70 bronze.

The mighty Amer­i­cans will take home 265 — 103 gold, 81 sil­ver and 81 bronze. Brazil fin­ished a dis­tant third with 141 medals.

Not ev­ery­one brought their top ath­letes to Toronto. The Amer­i­cans fielded squads of mainly B-team ath­letes. Ja­maica was miss­ing its best sprint­ers, like su­per­star Usain Bolt.

Canada, mean­while, topped its pre­vi­ous best of 197 medals when Win­nipeg hosted the Games in 1999. Canada passed that mark with two days to go.

Along the way, Cana­dian stars were born, such as Kia Nurse, the 19-year-old who led Canada’s women’s bas­ket­ball team to its first ever gold medal. Nurse was cho­sen to carry Canada’s flag in to the clos­ing cer­e­monies.

There was sprint phe­nom An­dre De Grasse, won both the 100 and 200 me­tres, shat­ter­ing his own Cana­dian record in the 200. The 20-year-old would have cap­tured a third gold had the 4x100-me­tre re­lay not been dis­qual­i­fied for a lane vi­o­la­tion.

El­lie Black leapt and tum­bled to five medals in artis­tic gym­nas­tics, as Canada’s most dec­o­rated ath­lete at the Games. Whit­ney McClin­tock in wa­ter­ski­ing, Jas­min Glaesser in cy­cling, and swim­mer Santo Con­dorelli each won four medals apiece.

Canada’s men’s soft­ball team kept a firm grasp on gold, win­ning No. 8 in a row. No other coun­try has ever won the tour­na­ment.

“At this Pan Am Games, top 2, I told you it was an am­bi­tious ob­jec­tive, the way we like them. We like am­bi­tious,” said Cana­dian Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Mar­cel Aubut. “I told you also that I had in­cred­i­ble faith in this great, great Cana­dian team.”

Canada’s to­tal gold medals col­lected four years ago in Guadala­jara was 30. This Cana­dian team blew by that mark on just Day 5 here. Canada sur­passed the 119 to­tal medals from Guadala­jara on Day 8.

Canada took a much smaller team to Mexico, mainly be­cause the Games fell so late in the com­pet­i­tive sea­son.

CP PHOTO

Team­mates mob Cana­dian pitcher Sara Groe­newe­gen af­ter record­ing the last out to beat the United States in ex­tra in­nings to win the gold medal in women’s soft­ball at the Pan Amer­i­can Games in Ajax, Ont., Sun­day.

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