Dayron Robles wins hurdles gold
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Dayron Robles was too far ahead of his rivals to get into any trouble this time.
The Cuban world-record holder won his second straight Pan American Games gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles Friday, setting a competition record by winning in 13.10 seconds.
Robles also finished first in the hurdles race at the world championships in August but was stripped of his title for obstructing China's Liu Xiang.
There was no dispute in Guadalajara.
"I knew I was going to cross the finish line first, and with just a little more effort I knew I could get the record. It wasn't that hard," said Robles, who also won the gold four years ago in Rio de Janeiro. "I was able to run at about 90 or 92 percent and it was still enough to win."
The United States also had enough to claim two big qualifying spots for the London Olympics in women's field hockey and women's water polo. Both teams won gold Friday, unexpectedly in field hockey and tougher than planned in water polo.
Overall, the Americans stayed at the top of the medals table by winning seven golds on Day 14 to bring their total to 86 gold and 220 overall. Cuba, however, moved into second place ahead of Brazil with 52 golds by winning 15 of them Friday.
The American field hockey team scored its biggest upset ever, defeating world champion Argentina 4-2.
"We were always fighting, always working," U.S. captain Lauren Crandall said. "Argentina is capable of scoring three goals in a minute. We stayed focused to the end -- well let's say the last five seconds."
In women's water polo, the Americans rallied from a 5-2 halftime deficit to send the game into overtime at 8-8. No one scored in the extra two periods, but the Americans held on to win a marathon shootout 19-18.
"We prevailed because we believe in ourselves. There is no panic even when we are down by three or four," U.S. attacker Courtney Mathewson said. "I think we believed in each other and that was the difference. It was just an amazing game to be a part of."
The men's water polo team will face Canada in the final on Saturday -- with another Olympic berth on the line.
Sara Hall added a gold by winning the women's steeplechase, while Carrie Johnson won the women's K1 500-meter kayak event, the men's foil team and women's sabre team added two more in fencing and Paul Ruggeri III won the men's high bar in gymnastics.
"Ever since I was a little kid I have wanted to make it to this point," Ruggeri said. "I would work so hard and was never really sure if it was possible, but now all that hard work is finally paying off."
Robles won his race easily, taking the lead from the start and never looking threatened as he ran his record time at the Telmex Athletics Stadium.
The previous Pan American Games record of 13.17 was set by Anier Garcia of Cuba in 1999 in Winnipeg. Robles holds the world record of 12.87, which he ran a couple of months before winning the Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
"I wanted to go even lower, but I wasn't fully confident because of an injury in my attack leg," Robles said. "I had a small muscle injury in my attack leg, but thanks to the doctors here I was able to race."
At the worlds in South Korea, Robles finished first but lost his medal after the Chinese protested that the Cuban impeded Liu by making contact with him several times over the last few hurdles. Jason Richardson of the United States ended up with the gold medal, while Liu earned silver and Andy Turner of Britain got bronze.
Robles started off another strong day for Cuba on the track. A day after winning five golds, Cuba added seven more.
Besides Robles, Yarelis Barrios won the women's discus, Andy Gonzalez won the men's 800, Lazaro Borges won the men's pole vault, Guillermo Martinez won the men's javelin and both 1,600 relay teams claimed gold.
"We came here with the idea of winning the gold medal since we left Cuba," said Diosmely Pena, a member of the women's relay team. "We had the Brazilians as our biggest rivals ... but we came here to win and we did it."
The Cubans also won four of the six boxing gold medals and two more in judo. The other two came in canoeing.
Also, Canadian wakeboard silver medalist Aaron Rathy became the first athlete to test positive for doping during competition at the games. Rathy tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine and his medal has been withdrawn, according to games officials.
"Aaron and Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada have cooperated fully with the investigation and will accept the findings of the Pan American Sport Organization Disciplinary Committee," Canadian officials said in a statement.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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