Jamaica celebrates with 3 golds at Pan Am Games athletics

LIMA, Peru (AP) — It was Jamaica’s day: The Caribbean nation and Olympic sprinting superpower won three gold medals in athletics at the Pan American Games on Wednesday.

Olympic 100- and 200-meter champion Elaine Thompson won the women’s 100-meter gold in 11.18 seconds. Natoya Goule took the women’s 800 title in two minutes, 1.26 seconds. Defending champion Fedrick Dacres earned gold in men’s discus with a Pan Am Games record throw of 67.68 meters.

The gold medal wins came just a day after Jamaican Independence Day, which takes place on Aug. 6.

“It’s an honor to wear the national flag again. We celebrated independence Day,” said Thompson, who won the 100-200 double at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. “It’s great to give my country something to cheer about.”

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There was much to celebrate both at home on another sunny, warm day in the Caribbean island, and about 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) away in the Peruvian capital, even when Lima’s damp, chilly weather became a challenge to overcome for the Jamaicans.

“The temperature really gave us a warm time, no pun intended,” Dacres, 25, said. “My rhythm was off and I never hit as well as I would want.”

Reggae music blared from the loudspeakers at the Atletico stadium after some of the Jamaicans crossed the finish line.

Jamaica’s Jamie Smikle won silver in the men’s discus, and Goule became the first Jamaican to win the 800 title. Although she started behind in the first 100 meters, she said she had “the guts to sprint in the end” and win.

“I feel really happy about it,” she said. “It means a lot to me and my country.”

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