Lopez leads Cuban gold rush with fourth wrestling crown

Published August 3, 2021
CUBA’S Mijain Lopez Nunez (L) and Lakobi Kajaia of Georgia compete during the men’s 130kg Greco-Roman wrestling final.—AP
CUBA’S Mijain Lopez Nunez (L) and Lakobi Kajaia of Georgia compete during the men’s 130kg Greco-Roman wrestling final.—AP

CHIBA: Cuba’s Mijain Lopez became the first man to win four Olympic gold medals in wrestling when he defeated Georgia’s Iakobi Kajaia 5-0 in the Greco-Roman super heavyweight final on Monday, minutes after compatriot Luis Alberto Orta won gold in the bantamweight category.

Lopez was unscored upon in his four matches. He joins Japans Kaori Icho as the only wrestlers to claim four Olympic golds. Icho won freestyle gold medals in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Lopez won gold at 120 kg in 2008 and 2012 and 130 kg in 2016 before his victory on Monday.

The 38-year-old joins a list of athletes including Carl Lewis (long jump), Al Oerter (discus) and swimming legend Michael Phelps (200m medley) to win golds in the same event in four straight Games.

“I feel happy, proud to be the best in the world and make history,” said Lopez. “I’ve had a long career, working hard to make these goals and break this record.”

He will be 41 by the time of the Paris 2024 Olympics, but did not rule out a bid for a fifth gold.

“I don’t want to say yes or no, but to everyone, Mijain is alive,” added Lopez, who was congratulated by Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel in a video call.

Orta beat Japan’s Kenichiro Fumita 5-1 in the Greco-Roman bantamweight final.

The women’s freestyle heavyweight title went to Germany’s Aline Rotter-Focken, who beat US five-time world champion Adeline Gray 7-3 in the final. It was her country’s first ever gold medal in women’s wrestling.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2021

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