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.

  • Published in Sports

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

  • Published in Specials

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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