Mexican Espinosa leads diving at home
Thousands of spectators cheered the home favourite diving team during their total sweep of eight gold medals at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara (MEX). Diving was one of the most watched sports during America's biggest sports festival. Besides, the host nation totalled a record tally of 133 medals, including 42 gold, 41 silver and 50 bronze, to finish fourth in the overall medals ranking.
Paola Espinosa, Olympic and world medallist, created a sensation at the Games, going down in Mexico's diving history by gathering three gold medals in the 10m platform, both individual and synchro, and 3m synchro (also incidentally bagging a bronze in the 3m springboard). Espinosa successfully defended her title in the 10m platform in a tight final with team-mate Tatiana Ortiz. Mexico eventually placed 1-2 with Espinosa (370.60 points) and Ortiz (369.05 points). The minor medal was reserved for Meaghan Benfeito from Canada (358.20 points).
On the platform, Mexico's diving queen collected successively 69.00 (107B), 59.40 (207C), 72.60 (307C), 84.80 (407C) and 84.80 points (5253B) for her dives. Her performance in the fourth and fifth rounds facilitated her climb on the highest podium. "This competition allows me to learn a lot and feel more confident. I came from less to more, the last two dives were good for me but I would have loved to do better in the first three," Espinosa conceded.
Combining with Tatiana Ortiz in the 10m synchro, Espinosa delivered a flawless performance that earned them the gold with a total 326.31. The Mexican duo was followed by Canada's Roseline Filion/Meaghan Benfeito (318.66 points) and Cubans Yaima Rosario Mena/Annia Rivera (269.28 points).
In the 3m springboard, local hope Laura Sanchez was victorious with 374.60 points. American Cassidy Krug took silver (372.65 points) and Espinosa placed third (356.20 points). "Ending the season this way motivates me for the months to come and to get in shape for the 2012 Olympics," Sanchez said with a smile.
Leaving their "rivalry" appart, Sanchez and Espinosa partnered in the 3m synchro to win the gold with 338.70 points. Jennifer Abel/Emillie Heymans (CAN) picked up silver (336.30 points) and Kassidy Cook/Cassidy Krug (USA) settled for the bronze (319.50 points).
Paola Espinosa and Tatiana Ortiz (MEX) diving for gold at the 10m Synchro - credit: Christian Palma
Mexico's male diving team did not disappoint either with Yahel Castillo and partner Julian Sanchez taking out the 3m springboard individual and synchro events. Individually, Castillo was the best (529.45 points) while Sanchez finished second (480.65 points). Cesar Castro from Brazil placed third (462.15 points).
In the synchro event, Castillo and Sanchez placed first with 457.32 points. American pair Troy Dumais/Kristian Ipsen took silver (411.99 points) and Cuban duo Rene Hernandez/Jorge Luis Pupo placed third (384.33 points).
Another pair of Mexican greats, German Sanchez/Ivan Garcia, won the 10m synchro in convincing fashion (479.88 points), beating Cubans Jose Guerra/Franco Jeinkler (447.57 points) and Canada's Kevin Geyson/Eric Sehn (399.93 points).
Garcia completed Mexico's gold sweep with a victory in the 10m platform (553.80 points). He bested team-mate Rommel Pacheco (508.20 points) and Sebastian Villa from Colombia (471.05 points). Ten countries took part in the diving competition: Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic, USA, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
German Sanchez & Ivan Garcia (MEX) - credit: Christian Palma
In the men's final, the USA defeated Canada by 7-3 while Brazil won their match against Cuba to capture the bronze. USA team's Anthony Azevedo scored three goals while team-mates Peter Hudnut, Jeffrey Powers, Timothy Hutten and Jesse Smith each scored one. The USA team dominated the operations from start to finish and despite constant and persistant Canadian attempts, U.S. goalkeeper Merrill Moses did not lower his guard. The goals on Canada's side were scored by Kevin Graham (two) and Dusko Dakic. Brazil beat Cuba 14-7 in a match that was tied at 7 until the mid of the third period. The Cuban team ended up losing the third quarter 9-7 and collapsed in the last period when Brazil shot five straight goals.
Among women, the senario was pretty much the same with USA's win over Canada in a tight 27-26. The Americans scored four goals in the last period to tie the game at 8. In the penalty shoot-outs, USA eventually triumphed 19-18. Here too, Brazil defeated Cuba in a score of 9-8. Brazil's Marina Canetti and Catherine de Oliveira scored three goals each.
Canada won both the duet and team events. In team, they accumulated an overall 190.388 points. Silver went to USA with a total 179.588 and the bronze was awarded to Brazil (176.425 points). Mexico placed fourth, followed by Colombia, Argentina and Aruba.
In duet, Canada's Elise Marcotte/Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon won comfortably with a combined 188.988. American duo Mary Killman/Mariya Koroleva picked up silver with a total 179.463 and Brazilians Lara Teixeira/Nayara Figueira placed third with an overall 177.413 points. Just out of medal range was Mexico, followed by Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Aruba, Costa Rica and Uruguay.