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Canadian paddlers earn trio of sprint gold medals in canoe/kayak at Pan Am Games

Canada boosted its gold-medal count quickly on Friday at the Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile.

Kayaker Michelle Russell collected the women’s K1 500 metres to start things off, and was succeeded in short order by Ian Gaudet and Simon McTavish, who grabbed men’s K2 500 gold, and Alix Plomteux and Craig Spence, who followed suit in the men’s C2 500.

Canada now sits at 40 gold medals — already five more than it won at the 2019 Pan Ams in Lima.

Russell, of Fall River, N.S., stopped the clock in one minute 51.25 seconds at the San Pedro de la Paz lagoon for her fourth career Pan Am medal.

The 31-year-old was part of the four-person women’s kayak team that won Canada’s first gold medal at the 2015 Games in Toronto before adding silvers in singles and doubles competition.

Meanwhile, McTavish’s gold marked his first-ever medal in Canadian colors after switching allegiances from Australia in 2019.

The 27-year-old teamed with Gaudet, a 20-year-old making his senior-level debut at a major competition, to cross the finish line in 1:30.45.

In canoe, Plomteux, the 23-year-old from Lac-Beauport, Que., and Spence, a 28-year-old from Dartmouth, N.S., climbed the top of the podium with a time of 1:42.12.

Canada rounded out its medals at the lagoon when the women’s K4 500 squad secured a silver medal while Sophia Jensen added to the Canadian medal haul with bronze in the women’s C200.

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