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Canada's Melissa Pagnotta bows after winning the gold medal during the women's taekwondo -67 kg final match against Paige Mcpherson of The United States at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)Martin Mejia/The Associated Press

Melissa Pagnotta won a gold medal in tae kwon do Monday to highlight a strong day for Canada at the Pan American Games.

The Toronto native beat Paige McPherson of the United States in the women's under-67 kilogram final.

Pagnotta's victory increased Canada's gold-medal count to 18 (three gold, five silver, 10 bronze) through three days of competition.

"Throughout the day, I didn't feel my best. I had three fights today and I took them one by one," Pagnotta said. "This medal is such a great experience for me. It's my first Pan Am Games. Coming here and taking in the atmosphere — it's just amazing."

The first-place finish capped a successful day for Canada with three medals apiece in rowing and squash, as well as a bronze in five-ball rhythmic gymnastics group competition and bronze in the women's 100-metre breaststroke.

The national rowing squad claimed silver in men's fours, bronze in women's pairs and bronze in women's sculls.

The men's fours finished second in a time of six minutes 5.65 seconds. The team consisted of Spencer Crowley of Lantzville, B.C., Toronto's Blake Parsons, David Wakulich of St. Catharines, Ont., and Kai Langerfeld of Parksville, B.C.

Argentina won gold in 6:04.41 while Cuba (6:06.51) took bronze in the six-team final.

"We executed our start well, better than in the heat. Argentina, Mexico and Cuba set a great pace, and the (United States) moved after the first 1,000 metres," said Wakulich.

"With 600 metres to go, we knew what we had to do, and the crews responded to my calls. I'm proud of our guys. They put everything into it."

The women's pairs team of Sarah Bonikowsky of Orangeville, Ont., and Sandra Kisil of Ancaster, Ont., claimed a bronze medal in 7:32.74. Argentina (7:24.57) captured the gold medal ahead of the U.S. (7:29.05).

In women's double sculls, Toronto's Elizabeth McCord and Audra Vair of Creemore, Ont., won bronze in 7:16.29 behind first-place Cuba (7:13.76) and the U.S. (7:14.34).

In the men's double sculls final, Steven Payne of Parksville, B.C., and Eric Bevan of North Vancouver, B.C., finished fifth in 6:47.76.

Canada added a silver and two bronze medals in squash.

Samantha Cornett of Deep River, Ont., earned the silver after losing to Mexico's Samantha Teran in the women's singles final.

"It was the hardest match on paper," said Cornett. "I was definitively apprehensive about playing it. I learned a little bit about myself today. I know that I can do it and where I want to be. It's not miles away but a couple."

Miranda Ranieri of Waterloo, Ont., earned a bronze when she lost to Cornett in the semifinal.

Montreal's Shawn Delierre settled for third place in men's singles after losing to Colombia's Miguel Rodriguez.

In the women's 100-metre breaststroke, Ashley McGregor of Pointe-Claire, Que., won bronze with a personal best time of 1:08.96. McGregor was fifth at the 50-metre mark but came back with a strong second half.

"I thought my race went really well, I didn't expect another best time," said McGregor said. "I knew I really had to swim hard in the second 50 to get the medal and that was my goal. It's also a really good sign for my 200 as well."

Ann Chandler of the U.S. won gold while fellow American Ashley Wanland took silver.

Kierra Smith of Kelowna, B.C., was fifth.

Canada also won a bronze in the five-ball rhythmic gymnastics group final. The team scored 24.425 points behind gold-medal winner Brazil (25.050) and the U.S. (24.850).

Canada's five-ball team is Katrina Cameron of Mississauga, Ont., Alexandra Landry of Ajax, Ont., and Kelsey Titmarsh of Thornhill, Ont., and Toronto natives Rose Cossar, Anastasiya Muntyanu and Anjelika Reznik.

Mariam Chamilova of Maple, Ont., twice missed out on the podium with fourth-place finishes in the individual hoop final and individual ball final.

The badminton team guaranteed itself three bronze-medal finishes with victories in mixed doubles, women's doubles and women's semifinals.

Calgary's Toby Ng and Grace Gao advanced to the semifinals in mixed doubles with a win over Suriname. Gao also partnered with Jocelyn Ko to beat Peru and secure a spot in the women's doubles semi.

In women's singles, Michelle Li of Toronto moved into the semis with a win over American Iris Wang.

Canada's men's cycling team broke the national record in the team pursuit event. Jean-Michael Lachance and Remi Pelletier-Roy, both of Quebec City, Victoria's Rob Britton and Jacob Schwingboth of Cloverdale, B.C., finished fifth in 4:14.389 to miss a birth in the medal races.

The previous mark of 4:16.816 was set at last year's UCI World Cup.

"It's fantastic," said track cycling coach Tanya Dubnicoff. "It was a great effort by all (the) guys, considering that they never rode a unit before today. It's a very good accomplishment for the team, for Canada."

In the men's 10-metre air rifle final, Cory Niefer of Saskatoon finished fifth with 688.3 points.

Canada's women's volleyball team a two-set lead in a five-set loss to the 14th-ranked Dominican Republic.

The loss dropped 22nd-ranked Canada (0-3) out of medal contention and into the consolation round for positions five through eight.

"It's frustrating to lose a match that way," said libero Julie Young of Red Deer, Alta. "We laid it all out there. We were consistent from start to finish but they elevated their game in the third set."

Jennifer Hinze of Vancouver led Canadian scorers with 18 points, while Tasha Holness of Calgary added 17.

In softball, Canada won its opening game 9-2 over Puerto Rico. Catcher Kaleigh Rafter of Guelph, Ont., drove in five runs.