Canadians mount Pan Am podium with gold, two bronze
Pendrel rolls to first in mountain biking; Hunks grabs third in open-water 10K
• Catherine PenRIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil drel of Kamloops, B.C., got things rolling in golden fashion for Canada at the 15th Pan American Games yesterday, winning the women’s mountain bike race.
“It feels great to be the first medal of the Games,” said Pendrel, who covered the Outeiro Hill circuit in one hour 46 minutes six seconds. “I really enjoyed the course.
“It was well-constructed and had a little bit of everything to challenge the riders. I was leading the event from the second lap and was keeping a good pace. On the last lap, (American rider) Mary McConneloug managed to overtake me, and I thought I would lose.
“I gave my best and recovered the lead in one of the last curves of the track.”
Pendrel more than recovered. She blew by McConneloug to win by more than a minute. The American crossed the finish line in 1:47.44.
Pendrel’s gold medal kick-started a strong start for the Canadians, generally. The swim team grabbed a medal before they even hit the pool.
It was a bronze in the 10-kilometre, open-water swim, as Tanya Hunks of Brantford, Ont., and the other competitors battled five-foot waves and circumnavigated a seven-buoy, twolap, five-kilometre course off Copacabana Beach under a brilliant, blue sky and 30 C heat.
Hunks, who trains at the National Training Centre in Vancouver, was a hard-churning third behind gold medallist Chloe Sutton of the U.S., and Poliana Okimoto of Brazil.
Those two thrashed home in a photo finish, with Sutton smacking the floating finish line in two hours 13 minutes 47.6 seconds, edging Okimoto’s 2:13.48.4. Hunks clocked 2:13.50.5.
The close finish was extraordinary in such a long race, not to mention one in which the rolling waves sent the swimmers crashing into one another, especially during the first 21⁄ kilome-
2 tres of the course.
“Off to a good start, right?” Tunks told reporters after the race. “This is the very first event of the Games and for Canada to come out with a medal on the very first event is pretty amazing.”
The event itself was a scene, held at one end of the seven-kilometre long Copacabana Beach, which was teeming with the normal quota of joggers, sightseers and volleyball players out for Saturday fun.
The 10-kilometre swim will make its first appearance on the Olympic program at the Summer Games in Beijing next year.
Meanwhile, out on the beautiful blue but choppy water, a couple of Brazilian navy gunboats were part of a large flotilla of water craft monitoring races, which started about a half-hour apart on the same course.
Americans Fran Crippen and Charles Peterson finished 1-2 in the men’s race, with Allan Carmo of Brazil earning bronze.
Philippe Dubreuil of Sherbrooke, Que., was fifth, and Jarrod Ballem of Charlottetown, P.E.I., but training in Calgary, was eighth.
It may have been just another day at the beach for everyone else, but the swimmers had to battle waves, heat and even the residue of human carelessness — garbage.
“It was really good,” said the 26-yearold Tunks, who won the 10-kilometre swim at the 2006 Pan-Pacific Championships in Victoria.
Meanwhile, Ivett Gonda of Vancouver, won bronze in the women’s 49kilogram weight class at the Taekwondo competition.
RADU TRICKS BRAZILIANS
Canada’s understaffed women’s water polo team overcame early jitters to defeat the host Brazilians 5-2 on the strength of a hat-trick by Marina Radu, of Pointe-Claire, Que.
The squad pulled off the victory to the delight of Governor-General Michaëlle Jean, who watched the match under the lights at the outdoor Julio Delamare aquatic stadium, and chatted with the players afterward.
Canada was without veteran Cora Campbell of Calgary, who was struck by a tractor-trailer while riding her bicycle to a friend’s house on Tuesday, the day she was to depart for Rio.
Miraculously, Campbell, a 33-yearold left-handed scorer, escaped with a severe case of road rash and a fivestitch gash on her left shoulder. She flew to Rio later last week and is expected to join Canada later in the tournament.
Also missing from the lineup was team captain Krystina Alogbo of Montreal, who was serving a one-game suspension for having punched an opponent in her last international match.
Alogbo will be back in the lineup today when Canada plays Puerto Rico.
CANADA BLANKS URUGUAY
Canada’s women’s soccer team humbled Uruguay 7-0 in their first match of the Pan Am tournament, which they are using as a tune-up for the World Cup of Women’s Soccer in China in September.
Christine Sinclair of Burnaby, B.C., scored three goals in that mismatch. Randee Hermus of Langley, B.C., scored twice.
Diana Matheson of Oakville, Ont., and Melissa Tancredi of Ancaster, Ont., also scored.
Officials help Chloe Sutton of the U.S. and Tanya Hunks of Canada to shore after the women’s swimming 10K marathon final at the Pan American Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday.