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Canadian Trail: Relay disqualification mars otherwise fine day

Canada's men's 4x100-metre relay team was disqualified and denied its gold medals when it was determined that Gavin Smellie stepped out of his lane, putting a damper on another productive day at the Pan Am Games.

Men's 4x100 team stripped of apparent win

Canada's Andre De Grasse thought he had won his third gold medal of the Pan Am Games until it disappeared as the result of a DQ in the men's 4x100m relay. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

Andre De Grasse's Pan American Games debut was agonizingly close to being perfect.

The sprinting phenom appeared to win his third gold medal in Toronto when the Canadian men's relay team crossed the finish line in first place. Instead, after two protests and a torturous wait, the Canadian sprinters were disqualified and denied their gold medals when it was determined that Gavin Smellie stepped on the line marking his lane in the first leg.

"There is no margin of error when you step on the line," Athletics Canada head coach Peter Eriksson said. "You step on the line you should be disqualified . . . however it happens many times that people can get away with it."

The controversy spoiled what was otherwise a successful day for Canada at the Games. Canadian athletes took home 19 medals on Saturday, including five gold. The host nation heads into the final day of competition with a record 214 medals — 77 gold, 68 silver and 69 bronze. Canada's previous record was 196 medals at the 1999 Games in Winnipeg.

Canada won two gold medals in the ring, with Mandy Bujold defending her Pan Am women's flyweight title and Caroline Veyre winning the women's lightweight title.

Derek Drouin of Corunna, Ont., won the men's high jump with a leap of 2.37 metres. Cyclist Jasmin Glaesser won gold in the women's road race. And in fencing, the women's foil team edged the United States in the final match.

De Grasse, who won both the 100 and 200 sprints at these Games, seemed certain of a third gold medal when he teamed with Smellie, Brendon Rodney and Aaron Brown to finish the relay in a Pan Am Games record time of 38.06 seconds.

The Americans immediately launched a protest, saying Rodney stepped outside his lane during a baton exchange. That protest was thrown out because Rodney had not yet received the baton when the infraction happened.

Then the U.S., Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago launched a second protest claiming Smellie stepped on the line. The protest was upheld, with the Americans moving into the gold-medal position, with Brazil second and Trinidad and Tobago third.

It was another chapter in Smellie's unlucky career. The sprinter from Brampton, Ont., was part of the Canadian men's relay team that appeared to win bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, only to be disqualified when it was determined that teammate Jared Connaughton stepped on the line.

Queens of the ring

It was a big day in boxing for Canada as Bujold of Kitchener, Ont., and Montreal's Veyre won their weight class finals within minutes of each other, taking Canada's boxing medal tally up to three gold and three bronze.

Bujold beat Marlen Esparza of the United States in a split decision in the women's flyweight final.

"It was amazing, honestly," said Bujold with a Canadian flag draped over her shoulders while Veyre fought in the ring. "Just coming here, I knew a lot of my friends and family were going to be out, so it was absolutely incredible. I knew I had to stay focused and not really think about them being in the crowd.

Veyre defeated Argentina's Dayana Sanchez in a split decision in the women's lightweight final.

"It helped me so much to win," said Veyre. "Everybody coming like this, you feel the support and you want to give more. I was more active than usual thanks to that.

"I think that's what helped me to win the fight."

Drouin led Canada to a 1-2 finish in high jump, taking the gold with a leap of 2.37 metres. Teammate Mike Mason of Nanoose Bay, B.C., was second with a jump of 2.31 metres.

"I'm happy with it, Drouin said. "Coming in I was really hoping that Mike and I can sweep the top two spots on the podium, obviously that's what we did."

Nicole Sifuentes and Sasha Gollish captured silver and bronze in the women's 1,500 metres.

Sifuentes, a 29-year-old from Winnipeg, ran 4:09.13 seconds.

The 33-year-old Gollish, from Toronto, crossed in 4:10.11, despite running all but 150 metres with her shoe half off. Another runner had clipped the back of it near the start.

Canada's women's 4x100 relay squad of Toronto's Crystal Emmanuel, Kim Hyacinthe of Terrebonne, Que., Jellisa Westney of Cambridge, Ont., and Khamica Bingham of Brampton, Ont., raced to bronze in a time of 43.00, and the women's 4x400 relay team of Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Humboldt, Sask., Taylor Sharpe of Pickering, Ont., Sage Watson of Medicine Hat, Alta., and Toronto's Sarah Wells capped the night with another bronze.

Fencers win gold

Canada added its first fencing gold of the games in the women's team foil with a 38-37 win over the United States.

The team of Calgary's Alanna Goldie, Hamilton's Eleanor Harvey and Ottawa's Kelleigh Ryan started strong before holding off a charge from the Americans.

"We felt the energy and really loved it. I think it helped us with our performance and the feelings of nervousness," Goldie said. "We knew it was our time, this is our space. I just loved having everyone here.

"We really wanted to bring 'O Canada' to this crowd and we did it."

Glaesser takes road race

Earlier, cyclist Jasmin Glaesser won gold in the women's road race , sprinting away from the pack to win in two hours 17 minutes seven seconds, finishing by half a wheel ahead of Cuba's Marlies Mejias. Canada's Allison Beveridge took bronze, 34 seconds behind Glaesser.

"I let the Cuban rider lead it out a little bit and waited until the last possible moment to jump past her," said Glaesser, who was born in Germany but now calls Vancouver home. "When I knew I got out ahead of her, it was just the best feeling in the world."

Hoops team settles for silver

The men's basketball team failed to add another gold, losing their bid to join the women as Pan Am champions when they were defeated 86-71 by Brazil in the gold-medal game.

Canada trailed by 25 points at one point in the third quarter. The team brought some life to Mattamy Athletic Centre when it reduced the deficit to six points, but Brazil calmly withstood the comeback bid and pulled down crucial late rebounds to keep Canada away from the ball.

Canada still earned silver, its best result in Pan Am Games history. Its previous top finish at the Games was fourth in 1983.

"I think I'm too much of a competitor right now to feel good about anything," said Canada head coach Jay Triano. "I don't like losing a game like that. But at the same time I think when we look back and reflect, we grew up throughout this tournament, we also grew up in this game a little bit. We got knocked on our heels but we never quit, we came back and I think the guys really played in the second half."

Gold streak on line Sunday

In men's field hockey, Canada was defeated 3-0 by Argentina in the gold-medal game. Canada and Argentina have met in the previous 10 Pan American field hockey gold-medal games with the Argentines taking gold six times.

Canada beat Brazil in a shootout on Thursday night to clinch a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. It will be the team's first Olympic appearance since the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Camelie Boisvenue of Gatineau, Que., won silver in the women's over-68-kilogram karate tournament.

Dan MacLelland of Kitchener, Ont., added a bronze in men's singles bowling while Ottawa's Eugene Wang settled for bronze in men's singles table tennis when he lost his semifinal 4-3 to Brazil's Hugo Calderano.

In racquetball, Canada took home bronze in the men's and women's team events.

Canada has won a gold medal in every day of competition in Toronto, and will get the chance to finish that trend Sunday. Both the women's baseball and softball teams won their matches Saturday and advanced to their respective gold-medal games.


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