Santiago Lange, right, and Cecilia Carranza Saroli of Argentina react after winning the gold medal in the Nacra 17 Mixed class medal race at the Marina da Gloria in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Santiago Lange, right, and Cecilia Carranza Saroli of Argentina react after winning the gold medal in the Nacra 17 Mixed class medal race at the Marina da Gloria in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Sons of Santiago Lange, second right, embrace their father with Cecilia Carranza Saroli from Argentina, left. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Sons of Santiago Lange, second right, embrace their father with Cecilia Carranza Saroli from Argentina, left. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange's sons and friends celebrate on the catamaran. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange's sons and friends celebrate on the catamaran. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Santiago Lange reacts after winning the gold medal. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Santiago Lange reacts after winning the gold medal. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange, centre left, Saroli, centre right, during the awards ceremony.  Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange, centre left, Saroli, centre right, during the awards ceremony. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange and Saroli react after receving their gold medals. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange and Saroli react after receving their gold medals. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange and Saroli embrace after receving their gold medals. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange and Saroli embrace after receving their gold medals. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Lange and Saroli compete during the Nacra 17 Mixed Medal Race. Picture: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Lange and Saroli compete during the Nacra 17 Mixed Medal Race. Picture: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

San Diego - Santiago Lange lost count of how many times he broke down during the celebration on the shore of Guanabara Bay, where one of the more remarkable stories of the Rio Olympics played out.

"It was many," said Lange, a 54-year-old Argentine who became the oldest medalist at the Rio Games.

Lange, a cancer survivor and six-time Olympian, and crew member Cecilia Carranza Saroli won the first Olympic gold medal in the Nacra 17 mixed catamaran class on Tuesday at the sailing regatta.

What followed at Flamengo Beach were unending rounds of group hugs, handshakes and backslaps.

And, yes, go ahead and cry along with him, Argentina.

"These whole games have been incredible for me," said Lange, who marched alongside sons Yago and Klaus during the opening ceremony. "They've been a very emotional games. Watching the racing of my sons, and my sons watching my racing, and today celebrating with them. It's just been too much for me."

Already a two-time bronze medalist in the discontinued Tornado catamaran class, Santiago was the most popular guy in the boat basin. As he and Saroli came to shore, his sons, who sail in the 49er class, jumped into the water to greet them.

"My children swam to the ship," Lange said. "They had a regatta yesterday and were disqualified unjustly. If not they'd be fighting for a medal. So, what more can you ask from life?"

The shore-side celebration lasted for several minutes, with several people waving Argentinian flags. They'd probably still be standing in the surf if it weren't for media obligations and the medal ceremony

After receiving his gold medal, Lange hopped off the podium and ran over to hug his sons.

Lange had to beat lung cancer before he had a chance to beat the fleet.

He was diagnosed last year and had his left lung removed.

"I was very lucky to find it," Lange said. "Probably if I wasn't travelling so much and wasn't so tired it wouldn't have been found. I see myself as very lucky."

Lange and Saroli won the gold after finishing sixth in the medal race, rallying from last after being penalised at the start.

They took the gold by just one point over Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin of Australia. Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank of Austria won the bronze.

Zajac said other sailors sometimes joke about Lange being "the old man. But he's shown everyone. He's here."

On the busiest day of the regatta, Caleb Paine of San Diego won the Finn class medal race and took the bronze, the first sailing medal for the United States at the Rio Games. Britain's Giles Scott had clinched the gold two days earlier. Silver went to Vasilij Zbogar of Slovenia.

"That's pretty awesome. I was thinking about that today, and adding to the U.S. medal count is pretty cool and I'm excited about that," Paine said.

The Americans lead the all-time Olympic sailing medals table with 60. They were whitewashed at the London Games, failing to win an Olympic sailing medal for the first time since 1936.

"I've worked for this for a long time and I've been sailing for a very long time, so for good things to come together at the right time is what it's all about," said Paine, who beat 2008 silver medalist Zach Railey during the selection process. "I'm happy to come away with a third but look forward to maybe down the line coming back again and going for gold."

Associated Press Writer Luis Henao contributed to this report..

AP