Canadian rowers, paddlers combine for five gold and eight total medals

TORONTO — A large contingent of family and friends braved the rain to watch local rower Carling Zeeman dominate the competition.

Zeeman won the women's single sculls race at the Pan American Games on Tuesday, finishing more than seven seconds ahead of her closest competitor.

"It's kind of a special moment for me," she said. "And it really touches me that everyone is coming out to watch. It is a rainy day but it's certainly not dampening any spirits at the finish line. The momentum they have going down there is just, it's unbelievable. I love it. It just adds to the fun of racing."

That win set the stage for another huge day for Canadian rowers at the Royal Henley course in St. Catharines, Ont. Canada won three rowing gold medals to increase its total to seven — five golds and two bronze — with one more day of racing to go.

It was also another multi-medal day for Canada's paddlers competing a few kilometres down the highway at the Welland Flatwater Centre.

The host country's canoeists and kayakers won five medals Tuesday, including two gold, giving them 10 overall in sprint events.

Zeeman, from nearby Cambridge, Ont., kicked things off for the rowers, winning the women's sculls in seven minutes 30.86 seconds, easily outdistancing Katherine McFetridge of the United States.

"It was my plan to go out hard and stay out in front," she said.

That victory was followed with a gold medal in the women's lightweight double sculls by Victoria's Liz Fenje and Katherine Sauks of Owen Sound, Ont.

Fenje and Sauks won with a time of 6:57.23. The held off a late charge from the Cubans, who took silver in 7:00.36.

"We actually didn't have the greatest first couple of strokes in our race, but suddenly we just locked into it and felt ourselves pulling away," said Sauks.

Canada finished the day of racing by winning the men's quad sculls.

Matthew Buie of Duntroon, Ont., Julien Bahain of Sherbrooke, Que., Will Dean of Kelowna, B.C. and Rob Gibson of Kingston, Ont., also led the race and won with a time of 5:42.22 seconds.

"Going out right off the start we wanted to get a solid lead because we knew once we came down here (the midway at Henley Island) it could get pretty rough and it's really hard to come back from behind in this rough water," Buie said.

In Welland, Mark de Jonge of Halifax and Laurence Vincent Lapointe of Trois-Rivieres, Que., led the medal rush with golds.

De Jonge captured gold in the K-1 200 metres, and has his sights set on the top of the medal podium at next year's Rio Olympics.

"We were training pretty hard last week and didn't have that taper going into this as much as we would for worlds," de Jonge said. "But you just have to deal with it, the long-term goal is qualifying for the Olympics, and ultimately win a gold medal at the Olympics."

Vincent Lapointe dominated the women's C-1 200 in the event's Pan Am Games debut, roaring to gold by a margin of more than two seconds.

"I was tired at the end, but I said to myself, 'This is the Pan Am (Games), I can't give up," she said. "I gave my all for Canada."

De Jonge and Pierre-Luc Poulin of Lac-Beauport, Que., also earned a bronze in the men's K-2 200 metres, earning a tie with Brazil.

Jason McCoombs of Dartmouth, N.S., added a silver in the C-1 200 metres, while Michelle Russell of Fall River, N.S., won silver in the women's K-1 200.

Elsewhere, Halifax gymnast Ellie Black won her third medal of the Games, taking bronze in the women's vault.

Black won the gold medal in the women's all-around competition on Monday and helped Canada win silver in team competition on Sunday.

"The team did really well here and that's definitely going to help us, moving forward to the world championships," she said.

In badminton, Canada earned two bronze in women's doubles competition. And Christopher Von Martels claimed bronze in individual dressage.

The Canadian Press