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The hosts reduced the deficit in the 82nd minute
BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Latin America improved its gold medal count at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, bringing home a total of 18 gold medals, four more than it won four years ago in London.

Though the region's overall medal count fell three short of 2012, with a total of 15 silver and 18 bronze adding up to 51, seven Latin American countries made it onto the medals table, led by Brazil, Cuba, Colombia and Argentina.

Making the most of its home advantage, Brazil clinched seven gold, six silver and six bronze medals.

In addition, Brazil succeeded in winning the big prize in Olympic men's football, something that had eluded the team until now, and in defeating Italy's men's volleyball team in the final on Sunday in a close match that had spectators on the edge of their seats.

Brazil's gold medal winners included Rafaela Silva in judo, Thiago Braz in the pole vault, Robson Conceicao in boxing (60 kilos), Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze in the women's 49er FX class sailing, and Alison Cerutti and Oscar Schmidt in beach volleyball.

Cuba put in the region's second-best performance, with 11 medals (5 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze), though fewer than it won at the London Games.

Colombia, which had never before won more than one gold medal at an Olympic Games, clinched three in Rio, thanks to weightlifter Oscar Figueroa, triple-jumper Caterine Ibarguen, and BMX cyclist Mariana Pajon.

It also walked away with two silver and three bronze medals.

Argentina, meanwhile, put in a performance not seen since the 1948 London Games, winning three gold medals, thanks to Paula Pareto in judo, Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza in sailing, and the men's field hockey team.

Argentine tennis player Juan Martin del Potro won a silver medal after stunning upsets against higher-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Rafael Nadal of Spain, though he eventually fell to Andy Murray of Britain.

However, Argentina was banking on at least another medal from its women's field hockey team, which had medaled at the past four Olympics.

Argentina's men's football team -- which won gold at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games -- was another disappointment, failing to make it past the first round after arriving in Rio with a coach appointed at the last minute.

Mexico fared worse than expected, garnering five medals, two fewer than in London, and none of them gold, whereas it won at least one gold in 2012.

Mexico's silver medalists included Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez in the 20-km walk, German Sanchez in the 10-meter platform dive and Maria del Rosario Espinoza in taekwondo, while the bronze medalists were Misael Rodriguez in boxing and Ismael Hernandez Uscanga in the modern pentathlon.

Venezuela and the Dominican Republic also made it onto the medals table.

Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas won the silver in the women's triple jump, Stefany Hernandez won bronze in women's BMX cycling, and Yoel Segundo Finol won bronze in flyweight boxing.

The Dominicans, which brought home a gold and silver in 2012, won only bronze this year in men's taekwondo (Luisito Pie).

While Latin America trailed far behind traditional Olympic powerhouses the United States and China, it did well enough to take away fond memories of the first Olympic Games ever held in South America.

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