By Steve Keating
LIMA (Reuters) – Whether soccer or basketball, a World Cup or an Olympics, the Brazil-Argentina rivalry is one of the greatest in sport and it played out again on Tuesday on the Pan Am Games women’s handball court.
The two countries can work themselves into a lather with nothing more than pride on the line but the stakes were much higher at a seething Videna Sports Centre, with a gold medal and direct qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics going to the winner.
This round went to Brazil, who broke open what had been a tight contest with a second half surge, cruising to a 30-21 win to punch their Tokyo ticket.
It was the 11th gold of the Games for Brazil, keeping them in front of their bitter rivals who sit eighth in the standings.
The United States continued their gold medal rampage, improving their haul to 28 after just four days with Mexico a distant second on 13 followed by Brazil.
The U.S. grabbed gold on land, sea and air on Tuesday, led by Karissa Cook and Jace Pardon who capped an unbeaten run to the women’s beach volleyball gold with a 14-21 22-20 15-10 win over defending champions Argentina.
Gymnast Riley McCusker was flying high at the Polideportivo Villa El Salvador, taking top spot on the uneven bars finals while weightlifter Sarah Robles picked up gold with victory in the women’s over-87kg division.
Timothy Sherry in the 50 metre rifle and Brian Burrows in the trap were on target in the men’s shooting competition while waterskier Regina Jaquess added her third gold to the U.S. cause by winning the overall women’s title.
After a slow start, Canada finally found its gold medal mojo, doubling their total from four to eight to leap up the leaderboard.
Gymnast Ellie Black, Canada’s most decorated athlete at the 2015 Pan Am Games, is well on her way to repeating that performance. She picked up a second gold and third medal in three days by winning the vault event.
The 23-year-old also took bronze in the uneven bars to take her tally to four medals for these Games and nine over the last two Pan Ams.
Black led Canada to a team silver on Saturday then on Monday successfully defended her all-around crown.
“We wanted to deliver some strong performances and we were able to do that,” said Black. “It is awesome to bring some more medals home for Canada.”
It was a big day in the canoes for Canada with Alanna Bray-Lougheed and Andreanne Langlois triumphing in the women’s K2 500m and Dominik Crete getting home first in the men’s K1 200m sprint.
Dorien Llewellyn triumphed in the men’s overall water skiing competition.
(Editing by Ian Ransom)