Triple champion Lopez to retire after Tokyo record attempt

Cuban wrestler Mijain Lopez will retire later this year after attempting to secure a record-breaking fourth Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games.

“After Tokyo I am retiring. It’s already decided,” Lopez told the Pan American Sports organization.

“Why? Well, because of my age, I want to rest and it’s time to give the opportunity to new generations. I want to say goodbye of course by winning my fourth Olympic gold medal. I am preparing myself for this and I am sure that I will achieve it.”

If the 37-year old wins gold he would become the most decorated wrestler in the sport’s Olympic history, surpassing Russian Aleksandr Karelin’s three titles.

In addition to the Olympic gold medals Lopez won in 2008, 2012 and 2016, he has won five world championship and five Pan American titles.

A fourth gold would also make Lopez the most successful Cuban Olympian of all time, surpassing boxers Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon, and fencer Ramon Fonst, all of whom won three gold medals.

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Mijaín López: The Fifth and the Olympus for a Gladiator without Bounds

Mijaín López has a unique physique and his fifth title in Pan-American Games, reign that began in Santo Domingo 2003 and certainly constitutes an intermediate step toward the sport Olympus of Tokyo.

When talking about sport legends worldwide you need to tell his history with golden edges. Mijaín López doesn't have absolutely anything to prove, but the motivation that holds his fourth Olympic medal keeps him extremely focused at his 37 years of age.

Mijaín López has a unique physique and his fifth title in Pan-American Games, reign that began in Santo Domingo 2003 and certainly constitutes an intermediate step toward the sport Olympus of Tokyo.

In fact, going through the competition with three convincing wins, scoring 21 points and again allowing no points against, makes us feel confident to attain his objective. On top of that the body weight; a relentless opponent weren’t a difficult obstacle for him.

His match in the semi-finals against the Chilean of Cuban origin Yasmany Acosta, his teammate on the mats for nine years and bronze medal winner in the World Championship seem the most difficult.

Mijaín took the initiative of the match, unfazed against the attacks of Acosta, knowing him perfectly… he was able to take him to the four-points position, and raising a defense against his “pincers” and his lethal sways, it’s practically impossible.

His match for the gold medal was an easy win against Venezuelan Moses Pérez for technical superiority of 9-0.

Just watching him walk on the mats leads to an overdose of respect, his opponents must think the same, even the hardest, like some of those that he will face in his second crusade through the German Bundesliga, a truly demanding and advantageous scenario for his training aiming at the Olympic Games in Japan.

Before that he will seek his classification in the World Championship next September (14-22) in Nur-Sultan,Kazakhstan. If he wins there, it would be his sixth World medal; he will certainly aim for the medal together with the classification for the Olympics that will be reserved for the first six of each division in Kazakhstan.

Mijaín was accompanied by other free style wrestlers on the podium Yusneylys Guzmán (silver in 50 kgs) and Lienna de la Caridad Montero (bronze-53 kg).

Lopez Returns to Competition, Wins Fifth Pan Am Games Gold

Three-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion Mijain LOPEZ (CUB) made his return after taking more than a year off from competing. In his first tournament back, Lopez claimed his fifth Pan American Games gold medal, winning the 130 kg weight class in Greco-Roman on Thursday in Lima, Peru.  

To start his day, Lopez rattled off a quick 8-0 tech fall over Luciano DEL RIO (ARG). In the semifinals, he bested 2017 World bronze medalist and former teammate Yasmani ACOSTA FERNANDEZ (CHI), 4-0.

For gold, Lopez dominated Moises PEREZ HELLBURG (VEN) in 2:02 with an 11-0 victory, highlighted by an impressive four-point throw.

Two other Cubans earned the top spot on the podium in Greco-Roman, including 2016 Olympic champion Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) and Gabriel ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB).

Wrestling at 67 kg, Borrero recorded three technical falls on the way to his first Pan Am Games title and did not give up a single point.

In the final, Borrero cruised past 2019 Pan American Championships bronze medalist Shalom VILLEGAS REQUENA (VEN) with a 12-0 technical fall.

At 97 kg, Rosillo won his third Pan American event of the year, adding to his 2019 Senior and Junior Pan Am Championship golds.

In a rematch of the Senior Pan Am finals from April, Rosillo downed 2016 Junior World bronze medalist G’Angelo HANCOCK (USA) in Wednesday’s gold-medal match.

A second-period four-point throw helped Rosillo separate himself from the American and eventually win the bout, 7-2.

Three other countries picked up gold medals in Greco this week, including Ecuador, United States and Venezuela.

Andres MONTAÑO ARROYO (ECU) earned his second-straight Pan Am Games championship, winning the 60 kg bracket.

After a 6-6 show-stopping win over two-time Pan Am champion Luis ORTA SANCHEZ (CUB) in the first round, Montano dominated the competition, securing two technical falls to propel him to gold, including an 8-0 victory in the finals over two-time Pan Am bronze winner Dicther TORO CASTAÑEDA (COL).

Winning the title at 77 kg was three-time Pan Am Championships gold medalist Pat SMITH (USA), who grinded out some solid wins en route to his first Pan Am Games gold.

In the championship match, Smith outlasted 2015 Pan Am Games champion Wuilexis RIVAS ESPINOZA (VEN) with a 3-2 decision.

Venezuela did, however, win a gold on Wednesday night as two-time Pan Am Championships gold winner Luis AVENDAÑO ROJAS (VEN) picked up the win at 87 kg.

Avendano put together an impressive day, defeating 2018 U23 World silver medalist Daniel GREGORICH HECHAVARRIA (CUB) in the semifinals before surpassing four-time Pan Am medalist Alfonso LEYVA YEPEZ (MEX) in the finals, 5-3.

mijain 2

In the team race, Cuba was first with 120 points, followed by Venezuela with 110 and USA with 91.

at Lima, Peru

Greco-Roman results

60 kg

67 kg
BRONZE - Ellis COLEMAN (USA) df. Luis DE LEÓN (DOM), fall

77 kg
GOLD - Patrick SMITH (USA) df. Wuilexis RIVAS ESPINOZA (VEN), 3-2

87 kg

97 kg

130 kg
GOLD - Mijaín LÓPEZ NÚÑEZ (CUB) df. Moises PEREZ HELLBURG (VEN), 11-0     
BRONZE - Yasmani ACOSTA FERNÁNDEZ (CHI) df. Luciano DEL RIO (ARG), 8-0

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Thirteen candidates stand for Panam Sports Athlete Commission as elections open

Thirteen candidates are running for five places on the Panam Sports Athlete Commission as voting opens here at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

Two are former Olympic champions, including Beijing 2008 madison champion Walter Pérez of Argentina and London 2012 épée champion Rubén Limardo of Venezuela. 

Beijing 2008 470 class sailing bronze medallist Isabel Swan of Brazil and men's water polo silver medallist Tony Azevedo are up for election.

Also running is Mexican racquetball star Paola Longoria, who has six Pan American gold medals to her name, Canada's beach volleyball world champion Melissa Humana-Paredes and two-times team archery Pan American Games champion Ana Rendón of Colombia.

Rounding off the list of candidates is Dominican Republic baseball player Diego Castillo, Jamaican squash player Christopher Binnie, modern pentathlete Esteban Bustos of Chile, cyclist Amber Joseph of Barbados, Guatemalan archer Thomas Flassbach and Bermudian swimmer Julian Fletcher. 

Athletes can vote for their preferred candidates on tablets located at the Panam Sports Athlete hub in the Pan American Village dining hall.

Voting tablets are also available at the satellite Athletes' Villages.

Beijing 2008 madison champion Walter Pérez of Argentina is running to be elected to the Panam Sports Athlete Commission ©Getty Images
Beijing 2008 madison champion Walter Pérez of Argentina is running to be elected to the Panam Sports Athlete Commission ©Getty Images

Those who are elected will join current Athlete Commission members Carlos Santiago of Puerto Rico, Adriana Escobar of El Salvador and Aliann Pompey of Guyana, who will all continue to serve until the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.

Current Athlete Commission President Alexandra Orlando of Canada, Andrea Estrada of Guatemala, Thiago Pereira of Brazil, Cuba's Mijain Lopez and Mexico's Guillermo Perez will be leaving the Commission. 

The announcement of the five new members will take place before the Lima 2019 Closing Ceremony on August 11.

"On behalf of the Panam Sports Athlete Commission, we are very excited to launch elections during the Lima 2019 Pan American Games," said Orlando.

"We have an incredibly strong group of diverse candidates vying for five open positions that will bring a fresh outlook and renewed energy to our mission. 

"As the voice of athletes within the Pan American Sports Organization, we continue to find new ways to integrate athletes into the decisions that matter the most. 

"We wish all the candidates the best of luck and would also like to thank our exiting members that have dedicated their time and efforts to improving athlete representation across the region over the past eight years."

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Mijain Lopez, a Cuban Legend for Making More History

Sports Ambassador of the Pan American Games Lima-2019 and emblematic figure, the Cuban wrestler Mijain Lopez is set for making more history.

If possible, we would say when talking about Lopez's achievements, the giant wrestler of 1.96 m, who, at 36, is still interested in increasing his records, including three Olympic gold medals, three Pan-American gold medals and four World Cups in Greco-Roman wrestling.

'The truth is that I am pretty motivated and confident that I will be able to provide the Cuban people with more satisfaction and to myself as well,' he told Prensa Latina.

After being appointed once afresh the flag-bearer of the Cuban delegation to compete in Lima-2019 (from July 26), Mijain Lopez admitted that he is being training so hard so as to reach two major goals.

He longs for winning in Lima-2019 and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, by completing one of the most important sports work regarding the Greco-Roman wrestling.

'To make these new dreams come true it takes a great deal of sacrifice and motivation. I am truly aware of seriousness which I must take on the hard work to come, perhaps the most complicated in my whole sports career,' he stated.

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Mijain Lopez and his scope targeting Barranquilla

In snipers’ terminology, it could be said that Cuban Greco-Roman wrestler Mijain Lopez has only one target in his scope: the Central American and the Caribbean Games to be held July 19-August 3 in Barranquilla.

Believe it or not, Mijain has just won one gold medal in this sort of games and it occurred in Veracruz 2014.

It is certainly surprising that such a high-ranked wrestler (three Olympic gold medals, five gold medals in World Championships) has only grabbed one title in Central American Games.

He participated in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in 2016, but the small number of five wrestlers deprived him of winning the title. Cuba did not participate in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 2010 due to safety issues with the delegation.

How is everything going so far?

I am focused on my training. Everything is all right and I am injury-free this time. Thus, I can look for the result everyone wants. And this is no other than the first place in my category 130 kg.

I will not face tough opponents in Barranquilla. But I always respect the opponents and I never underestimate them. However, I tell my people I will go out there looking for the gold medal.

How do you feel physically?

I am ready to go. I feel full of energy and vigor. As I have said before, my sole rival is my weight and the rule changes of my sports.

Was it profitable the rest you took last year?

It was great after so many years of sport career. I rejuvenated myself. I feel awesome right now.

After the Central American Games, are you planning to go to the World Championship to be held in Hungary in October?

The technical staff and I decided that it is better that Oscar Pino has another chance. He did pretty well last year by winning a bronze medal in the World Championship held in Paris, France.

Besides, the trainers are doing an excellent job with me. They are focusing on my physical shape for Tokyo 2020 without serious injuries or fatigue.

Last March, in the tournament to get the tickets for Barranquilla, you were involved with your partners giving them advises…Would you like to train in the future?

Yes, I do like it. It would be very special to convey my experiences to younger athletes. I try to teach them everything I have learned as wrestler.

How do you see the wrestling team of Cuba?

The boys are all right. They are enthusiastic and want to win. I am pretty sure we can win the six gold medals in Barranquilla. This goal is perfectly feasible.

You can achieve the feat of winning four gold medals in the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020. What is your comment on this?

I would like to go step by step. But I can say one piece of advice. It is better my opponents train hard as I will go all in to win my gold medal. It will be the perfect closure for my career.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz//CubaSi Translation Staff

YOUNG ATHLETES OF THE CUBAN SPORT: Oscar Pino, Mijaín’s Follower

Oscar Pino will always remember August 22nd, 2017 as the day that Greco-Roman wrestling smiled upon him. He won in Paris a Bronze Medal in the World Championship for Adults. His win was an example of gratitude to Héctor Milián and Mijaín López, their predecessors among the Cuban super heavyweights.  

Still in shock for being chosen the best Cuban athlete in wrestling in the year, and among the 10 sportsmen from Cuba in the selection of federative and expert, Pino agreed to talk to Cubasí:  

Your division has a long history, how do you evaluate this first experience in the world championship with a medal won?  

"I had the chance to have both of them next to the wrestling mattress. Milián was supporting the group of coaches, with notorious influence and very aware of the details. I trained with Mijaín for a while on the mattress. With those tutors, Raúl Trujillo and Mario Olivera, the training could not be less than excellent. Before the World Championship I felt sure. I commented to Trujillo that would win a medal and I told him that again when I was on the weight."  

This weight category technically becomes complex when moving. Taking that into account, what is Oscar Pino main resource?  

"As fighter, since I began in the EIDE School, I always watched Mijaín’s matches, he was already an established elite wrestler and I have been devoted to take all what’s positive in his system. Then when I entered the national pre-selection I kept the learning process. I especially mimic his pulling on the standing combat, move aside and defend myself, also tricks when performing the unbalancing of opponents and closing the grips, because he is unquestionably number one doing that. Those are the keys of my system: intensity standing, I study the opponents, constantly on the offensive with pulls and putting my arm on the inside, controlling the fights…"  

Which was the most difficult combat in the World Championship? Do you have a formula to gain weight?  

"In the World Championship of Paris I fought weighing 123 kg. We won match by match, with a technical-tactical strategy for each competitor. Many of them were already known to me, like the Hungarian I was pitted on the first combat, a difficult opponent. Winning on the first match gave me confidence. Now I weight 127 kg. The preparation we have developed after the World Championship has aimed at that among other elements. The combination of work-rest, an extra diet with carbohydrates and other energy meals.  

Now I seek adaptation, but that doesn’t mean to diminish speed, I have to work on the intensity and endurance of strength on the second rounds, but overall I feel fine."  

Oscar lives in the capital, the only medal winner in the Championship of Paris, and one of the three of our retinue, currently occupies the third position in the world ranking, following the Turkish Ryza Kaayalp and the Estonian Heiki Nabi, two very well-known to Cubans and who lost to Mijaín in the global balance of matches. By the way, position four is occupied by Yasmani Acosta, from Matanzas province equally trained by Mijaín and who also won a bronze medal in Paris, but he fought representing Chile, a fact we still have to live with.  

Anyway, Mijaín has expressed his intentions of winning his fourth Olympic medal in Tokyo 2020. Three years left to see what will happen. Meanwhile, Pino will continue growing, and the idol from Herradura will have on the mattress a talented relief who will contribute youth, will and drive in each session on the "arena".

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

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Wrestling: Division Favorites at Pan American Championships in Mexico

Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) won the 2013 Pan Am Championships up at 60kg. With the weight changes FILA introduced after last year’s World Championships, it’s enabled a bit of a shift for some athletes and Borrero Molina is one of those athletes. He finished 11th at the World Championships last season. Borrero Molina also won the event at 60kg in 2012. His top challenger will be Spenser MANGO (USA). Mango’s represented the U.S. on the last seven World and Olympic teams and was fifth in the World in 2013. Surprisingly, this will only be Mango’s second Pan Am appearance – he was bronze in 2009 at 60kg.

Jairo Luis MEDINA GARCIA (VEN) was a bronze medalist in last year’s event at 55kg and he’ll compete at 59kg. He finished 26th at last year’s World Championships. Andres MONTANO ARROYO (ECU) was the gold medalist at the South American Games in March and is coming off a solid silver-medal performance at the Grand Prix of Spain two weeks ago. Arroyo was also a silver medalist at the Granma Cup in Cuba back in February. Juan Carlos LOPEZ ASPRILLA (COL) and Jose Luis MAGALLANES DURAN (PER) both medaled at the South American Games. Diego ROMANELLI (BRA) was a silver medalist at 60kg in 2013 at the Pan Am Championships.

Miguel MARTINEZ (CUB) won the gold medal at the 2013 Granma Cup at the weight and he’ll be another strong Cuban competitor. Luis LIENDO (VEN) has had a strong career finishing fifth at the 2011 World Championships and gold at the South American Games in 2013.

Bryce SADDORIS (USA) is making his first appearance at the Pan Am Championships. The U.S. World Team Trials runner-up finished as a silver medalist in January’s Dave Schultz Memorial International. Keep an eye on Jair CUREO MUNOZ (COL). He was a silver medalist at the South American Games and was a 2013 Pan Am Junior gold medalist last year. Francisco ENCARNACION (DOM) has represented the Dominican Republic on three senior-level World Championship teams and has medaled five times at the Pan American level. It’ll be a new weight class for Encarnacion, who’s spent most of his career below 60kg.

At the non-Olympic weight of 71kg, the U.S. will enter 2012 Olympian and 2011 Junior World bronze medalist Ellis COLEMAN (USA). Coleman was a late replacement at 66kg at the 2013 World Championships for injured Justin Lester. Some nations are opting not to compete at the non-Olympic weights, so the preliminary entry list is pretty thin prior to competition. Of those who are pre-registered for the weight class are Joaquin MARTINEZ (VEN) and David CHOC HUOC (GUA). Neither have significant international experience.

Andy BISEK (USA) has been on a roll in 2014. Since competing at the 2013 World Championships in Budapest, Bisek has won four international gold medals, taking top honors at the Granma Cup in Cuba, two U.S. competitions (Dave Schultz and NYAC) and the Haavisto Cup in Finland. Bisek’s gold at Granma Cup saw him outplace Julio BASTIDA MENDOZA (CUB). Bastida Mendoza won gold at the Central America & Caribbean Games earlier this year. Angelo MARQUES MORIERA (BRA) was fifth at the 2013 World Military Championships and took a bronze medal at the South American Championships in 2013. Alvaro HUBIEROA ROBLES (DOM) was a bronze medalist at 66kg in 2013 and also gook a bronze at the Granma Cup.

Much like 71kg, there aren’t too many names listed in the event’s preliminary entry list. Of the three listed, there’s no gold-medal career finishes at senior-level events. Jon ANDERSON (USA) was a bronze medalist at the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Haparanda Cup this year, while Daniel RERREIRA (BRA) has a bronze medal finish at the 2013 Copa Brazil, a weight won by Roman Vlasov of Russia that year. Juan ALVAREZ (VEN) is also a preliminary entry.

Pablo SHOREY HERNANDEZ (CUB) is one of the best wrestlers in the World. While currently unranked due to only having one competition since competing at the 2012 Olympc Games. Shorey Hernandez was a 2010 World silver medalist and also has a 2009 bronze medal to go along with it. The last time he competed in the Pan Am Championships, he finished with a silver, but he has three other Pan Am golds in his career. His first time seeing competitive action since London was in February at the Granma Cup, where he won gold. Alexander BRAZON BRAVO (VEN) was the silver medalist at the 2013 Pan Am Championships, while Jake FISHER (USA) was a bronze medalist, but that was down at 74kg. Elivs D’OBRE (DOM) was a bronze medalist at the Granma Cup at 80kg.

Since 2012, Yasmany LUGO CABRERA (CUB) has claimed five international gold medals. He’s currently ranked No.15 in the world and should be a favorite to defend his Pan Am gold from a year ago, this time at a readjusted 98kg weight class.

Oscar LOANGO SOLIS (COL) has two bronze medals this year, earning them at the South American Games in March and the Central American & Caribbean Games a month later. Jose ARIAS PAREDES (DOM) was the silver medalist at the Granma Cup behind Lugo Cabrera and could be a solid candidate to challenge for a medal.

Edwin CARABALLO CABRERA (VEN) was an Olympian in 2012 and has medaled in eight Pan Am Games or Championships since 2006. He’s represented Venezuela at three World Championships. Caylor WILLIAMS (USA) was a bronze medalist at last year’s event.

Fans will also get to see the legendary Mijain LOPEZ (CUB) step to the mats at 130kg. Lopez has been one of the world’s most dominant Greco-Roman wrestlers in the last decade. Lopez’s resume includes two Olympic gold medals, four World championships and two world silver medals. He’s been competing actively for Cuba at the senior level since 2001 and broke through with his first World medal in 2005.

Only once in his career has he failed to claim gold at a Pan American Games or Championships, and that came way back in 2003 when American Dremiel Byers prevented the then up-and-coming Cuban from Gold. He’s won nine straight gold in Pan Am tournaments he’s entered.

  • Published in Sports
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