American Dawn Ellerbe wiped away all the disappointments of her international career today by winning the first gold medal in track and field at the 1999 Pan American Games.

"It's my first Pan Am Games and winning is very special," Ellerbe said after smashing the meet record in the women's hammer throw with a heave of 214 feet 5 inches on her final attempt.

The early track competition went to form, as Americans Johnny Gray and Trinity Townsend won their semifinal heats in the men's 800, and Silver Spring's Meredith Rainey Valmon, the defending champion in the women's 800, and Kathy Rounds qualified for the final.

In other track finals, Americans finished 1-2 in the men's shot put for the second straight games. Brad Mears won at 65-4 3/4, followed by Jamie Beyer at 62-2 1/4. Brazil's Maurren Maggi won the women's long jump, at 21-7 1/2.

Also, Chris Huffins, the two-time U.S. champion in the decathlon, led after today's first five events with 4,415 points. He won the 100 in 10.47 and the long jump at 24-10. He also was second in the shot put and high jump, and fifth in the 400.

* GYMNASTICS: There were a lot of bright moments for the favored U.S. women's team, just not enough, as Canada claimed the gold medal.

"We were not 100 percent prepared," U.S. Coach Mary Lee Tracy said. "We were doing some new skills, not to mention the world championships to think about. But those are excuses. Basically, we got beat. They hit more than we did."

Canada won with 148.944 points. The United States had 148.364 and Brazil took the bronze with 147.639.

Canada's Yvonne Tousek was the top performer with an all-around score of 37.511. Morgan White, the youngest U.S. member, was second at 37.330.

White and teammates Jennie Thompson (37.230) and Jamie Dantzscher (37.061) qualified for the all-around competition.

* TRIATHLON: Sharon Donnelly of Canada took home the women's gold with an overall time of 1 hour 59 minutes 14 seconds. American Karen Smyers finished seventh.

In the men's event, American Hunter Kemper took the silver.

* ROLLER HOCKEY: The U.S. defeated Argentina, 15-1. American Jami Yoder hit the back of the net six times.

* WATER POLO: After a win in their opener, the U.S. women lost to Brazil, 8-6.