Cuban wrestler Mijain Lopez rolls to 3rd Olympic title
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 16, 2016 10:33 AM
Cuba's Mijain Lopez Nunez celebrates after beating Turkey's Riza Kayaalp to win the gold in the men's wrestling Greco-Roman 130-kg competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
LUKE MEREDITH, AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Cuban heavyweight Mijain Lopez once again bested Turkish rival Riza Kayaalp — this time with an Olympic performance that put him in the company of wrestling great Alexander Karelin.
Lopez beat Kayaalp 6-0 Monday at the Rio de Janeiro Games to capture his third Greco-Roman gold medal.
Lopez joins Russian great Karelin and Carl Westergren of Sweden as the only wrestlers with three Olympic titles in the classic discipline.
Lopez, who lost to Kayaalp in last year's world finals, scored in only 15 seconds to essentially seal the match.
"It's just a tremendous honor because of the level that (Karelin) was at," Lopez said. "Now, this is my time."
Russian wrestler Davit Chakvetadze also won gold, finishing first in the 85-kilogram weight class to give Russia its second Olympic title in as many days.
Though the heavyweight field was fairly deep, an Olympic rematch between Lopez and Kayaalp seemed inevitable. No one came close to threatening either one of them in the preliminaries.
Lopez began his round with a win over Heike Nabi, who he also beat in the gold medal match at the London Games.
In the semifinals, Lopez drew Sergey Semenov — a two-time junior world champion from Russia and perhaps the wrestler who'll someday replace Lopez and Kayaalp at the top of the sport.
Lopez let Semenov know his time had not yet come, dispatching him 3-0. Semenov later rallied to win bronze by pinning Nabi.
"For me, it's practically gold," Semenov said. "I wanted this so much, and I got it."
Kayaalp was perhaps even more impressive though, recording a fall and a pair of technical falls to cruise into the final.
But Lopez's intensity was apparent from the moment the horn sounded for the last match. He flipped Kayaalp onto his back for a four-pointer only 15 seconds in and made it 5-0 less than a minute later.
"My strategy was to counter his efforts and go with it," Lopez said.
Chakvetadze rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat top-ranked Ukrainian Zhan Beleniuk 9-2. Beleniuk now has two losses this year — and both came against Chakvetadze.
"I am the happiest man on earth," Chakvetadze said.
Javid Hamzatau of Belarus and Denis Kudla of Germany won bronze.