U.S. wraps up Pan Am Games with two more medals

Oct. 18, 2011, 10:17 p.m. (ET)

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The U.S. Taekwondo team closed out its competition at the Pan American Games with two more bronze medals on Tuesday. The six total medals for the U.S. team is a vast improvement over the two medals, both silver, garnered by the American squad at the previous Pan American Games in 2007.

In Tuesday’s action, heavyweights Lauren Hamon (Miami, Fla.) and Stephen Lambdin (Colleyville, Texas) both reached the medal stand.

Hamon faced a stiff test in her opening match against 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and four-time world championship medalist Natalia Silva of Brazil. Both fighters were defensive throughout the contest which was scoreless through two rounds and ended deadlocked at 1-1 at the end of regulation. This forced a two-minute sudden-death overtime period in which neither fighter was able to score a point. The decision of the winner was left up to the judges to determine the most aggressive fighter in the overtime period and they awarded Hamon the decision sending the American into the medal round.

Hamon matched up against Cuba’s Glenhis Hernandez in the semifinal round and both fighters spent the first two periods feeling each other out with neither fighter scoring a point. In the third round, Hernandez landed the first point with 55 seconds left in the round and extended her lead to 3-0 over the American. After Hamon closed the gap to 3-1 on a kyong-go, Hernandez countered with a point of her own to close out the match with a 4-1 victory.

Hernandez would go on to claim the gold medal in convincing fashion with a 13-0 victory over Puerto Rico’s Nikki Gabriele Martinez in the final. The other bronze medal in the women’s heavyweight division went to Mexico’s Guadalupe Ruiz.

"It feels really good to have a bronze medal,” said Hamon. “I obviously want more but fighting Natalia (Silva), I lost to her in the quarterfinals at the last Pan Am Games so beating her today was great."

Lambdin’s opening match was against Colombia’s Carlos Alejandro Canas. Lambdin held a 1-0 advantage after the first round and the scored remained the same through round two. It was in the third round that the American distanced himself from his competitor and pulled away for a 4-0 win.

Next up was a tooth-and-nail battle with the home country favorite Salvador Perez of Mexico. Lambdin was down 1-0 at the end of the second round and fell further behind, 2-0, early in the third but managed to battle his way back to tie the match at 3-3 and then scored the winning point with 10 seconds remaining to prevail 4-3 and advance to the medal round.

In the semifinals, Lambdin faced a quick and agile Juan Carlos Diaz of Venezuela. Diaz took a 2-0 lead after one round and pushed the advantage to 5-2 at the end of two, then warded off the attacks of Lambdin in the final round to win a 7-3 decision. Diaz would lose in the gold medal match to Cuba’s Robelis Despaigne while Canada’s Francois Coulombe would claim the other bronze medal in men’s heavyweight competition.

"It's a great feeling to be a part of such a successful team,” Lambdin said. “It's really an honor and a blessing. While not all of us got the exact results we wanted, I think we all did our country proud by going out and fighting as hard as we can and letting the chips fall where they did."

Other U.S. medalists in Guadalajara included silver medalist Paige McPherson (Sturgis, S.D.) in the women’s welterweight (-67kg) and bronze medalists Deireanne Morales (Lynwood, Calif.) in the women’s flyweight (-49kg) division, Terrence Jennings (Alexandria, Va.) in the men’s featherweight (-68kg) division and Nicole Palma (Lake Worth, Fla.) in the women’s featherweight (-57kg) division.

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