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Julie Zetlin adds to American medal haul

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Maybe it's the Mexican food. Maybe it's the sunny skies.

Whatever it is about Guadalajara, Julie Zetlin likes it.

The 21-year-old American added two more rhythmic gymnastics medals to her haul at the Pan American Games on Monday, winning gold in the ball event and taking silver in the hoop.

"You just train your body to know when it should and shouldn't peak," said Zetlin, who won the all-around on Saturday. "You can't be perfect all the time."

Zetlin has been close to that in Mexico, and she'll get two more chances to add to her medal take on Tuesday in the clubs and ribbon finals.

The gold and silver contributed to another good day for the United States at the Pan Am Games. Americans won five medals in the swimming pool and took both golds in the 10-meter air rifle.

Overall, the United States leads the medals table with 16 gold and 43 overall. Brazil was second with nine gold and 21 overall.

But Zetlin was among the stars on Day 3, adding to her legacy in Guadalajara after winning three gold medals, and five overall, at last year's Pan American Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in the Mexican city.

Winning this time around wasn't as easy, however, because Zetlin was forced into a four-month break after knee surgery in May.

"I like to think that everything happens for a reason. My body kind of needed that four-month break ... it gave me a breather mentally and physically," said Zetlin, who lives in Bethesda, Md. "Even though it was hard to come back from surgery, I try to think of the positives."

Despite her success in Mexico, Zetlin still has her eyes in the ultimate goal -- qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics. She will likely find out if she has made the cut in January, after an Olympic test event in the British capital.

But until she learns her Olympic fate, Zetlin is enjoying her success in Guadalajara, and the success of the entire U.S. team.

"I got to the athletes lounge and they have a medal count up there and I know I contributed to that, so that really makes me feel amazing and so proud to be an American and part of such a great country," said Zetlin, adding that pictures of all the gold medalists are put on the wall.

"I looked at it and I was like, 'Oh my god.' It made me feel really happy, not just, 'Wow, I did such a good job.' It makes me feel so good for my country."

The swimmers won two more gold medals, and briefly had a third after Leonardo De Deus of Brazil was disqualified after finishing first in the men's 200-meter butterfly.

But De Deus, who had been stripped of his medal because of a sponsor's logo on his swim cap, was reinstated, pushing Daniel Madwed back down to silver.

"I guess the harder it is, the better it feels," De Deus said. "Justice was done. I touched first. It would be hard to win it but then have it taken away from you because of a mistake by the organizers."

Gillian Ryan won the women's 400 freestyle and Ann Chandler won women's 100 breaststroke ahead of teammate Ashley Wanland. Thiago Pereira took gold in the men's 100 backstroke, with Eugene Godsoe of the United States in second.

In shooting, Matt Rawlings won the 10-meter air rifle and Emily Caruso finished first in the women's event.

Rawlings broke his own Pan American Games record in qualifying, scoring 595 points. He then set a games record in the final with 696.7 points.

"I'm glad we didn't make major mistakes," said Rawlings, who won the silver medal four years ago in Rio de Janeiro. "I've been training hard and working toward this all season long."

A short time later, Caruso equaled the games record in qualifying with 396 points and then set a final record with 497.8 points.

Caruso's win and Jonathan Hall's silver medal in the men's event earned the United States two more quota spots for next year's Olympics.

"I came here for the quota," Hall said, "and I'm proud to bring it home to my country."