Cuban Greco-Roman Great Mijain Lopez Wins Third Olympic Gold
Saturday, December 28, 2019 - 22:45 By Andrew Hipps
CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (December 26) -- At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Cuban wrestling great Mijain LOPEZ captured his third Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling, equaling the record of Alexander KARELIN (RUS, 1988-1996) and Carl WESTERGREN (SWE, 1920-1932). Lopez became the ninth wrestler in history to win three Olympic gold medals.
Lopez, a five-time world champion and eight-time world medalist, earned his Rio gold medal by shutting out Turkey’s reigning world champion Riza Kayaalp, 6-0.
After Kayaalp defeated Lopez at the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, many wrestling fans were expecting a hard-fought struggle in their Rio gold-medal match, but Lopez all but sealed his victory in the opening 30 seconds.
Lopez snapped Kayaalp down and wrapped up a tight chest-lock from in front and tossed the champ to his back for a quick 4-0 lead. He added a step-out point off an ensuring scramble to go up 5-0.
Lopez added another penalty point in the second period as things got chippy with a frustrated Kayaalp. He appeared to be closing in on a technical superiority with a minute remaining, but Lopez chose to ease home with the victory.
The 6-foot-5 Cuban celebrated his third Olympic gold title by doing a salsa-infused dance on the Mat. “The dance just came natural to me,” Lopez said moments after his match. “Brazil is Brazil, and in Brazil you have to dance!”