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Wrestling at Tokyo 2020: Cuba’s Lopez wins 4th Gold Medal

Wrestling at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Day 1–2

After a year-long delay, wrestling at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, finally kicked off on August 1. Competition began in Men’s Greco-Roman at 60 kg (132 lbs.) and 130 kg (286 lbs.) and Women’s Freestyle 76 kg (167 lbs.). The Medal matches were held on August 2. The primary story coming into the games was Cuba’s Mijaín López’s race toward a fourth Olympic Gold Medal, which has never happened in the history of the Games.

Aleksandr Karelin

Aleksandr Karelin has long been the most accomplished competitor in both the heavyweight division and in Greco-Roman. Karelin won Olympic titles in 1988, 1992, 1996 before being defeated by the US’s Rulon Gardner at the 2000 finals. López, a 6’5″ mountain of man, won his first Gold medal in Beijing in 2008, repeating the feats in London and Rio. Coming into the tournament, he was the overwhelming favorite, despite being almost 39 years old. His greatest competition on paper seemed to come from Turkey’s four-time World Champion Rıza Kayaalp, who won silver in Rio and Bronze in London. After dispatching Korean Kim Min-Seok via technical superiority 8–0 in the opening round and Iran’s Amin Mirzazadeh 8-0 in the quarters. The 2016 championship rematch took place in the semifinals, with the Cuban winning 2–0 and securing his place in the finals.

The primary story coming into the games was Cuba’s Mijaín López’s race toward a fourth Olympic Gold Medal, which has never happened in the history of the Games.

The next day, Lopez faced Georgian Iakob Kajaia in the Gold Medal match. Lopez took an early lead after Kajaia was hit with a 1-point passivity. Kajaia was placed in the down par terre position where Lopez lifted, and gut wrenched the Georgian twice for four points. Lopez earned the 5–0 decision, cementing his place as the most accomplished wrestler in history.

Adeline Gray

Five-time World Champion Adeline Gray came into the tournament as the top seed at 76 kg on the US side. After scoring a fall over Zaineb Sghaier of Tunisia, Gray faced Yasemin Adar of Turkey in the quarters. The match ended with Adar gaining a late takedown and running out of time as she was trying to sink a leg lace. Gray again held off a late charge from Aiperi Medet Kyzy of Kyrgyzstan to reach the gold medal round in the semis. In the finals, Gray fell to Aline Rotter-Focken of Germany, as she finally met an opponent who neutralized her leg attacks. A powerful four-point whizzer throw from Rotter-Focken put the match away. After more than a decade on the international scene, Gray finally won an Olympic medal.

At Greco 60 kg, Ildar Hafizov, an Olympian for his native Uzbekistan in 2008 before immigrating to the US in 2015, fell to eventual champion Luis Orta of Cuba the opening round. Hafizov was pulled back into repechage but lost to Bronze medalist Sergey Emelin of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Day two competition kicked off with the US’s 2019 68 kg (150 lbs.) World Champion Tamyra Mensah-Stock. Mensah-Stock beautifully executed leg attacks transitioned to leg laces to earn a 10–0 technical superiority decision over 2016 Gold Medalist Sara Dosho of Japan. In the quarterfinals, Mensah-Stock defeated Zhou Feng of China by another 10–0 technical superiority decision. She faced Alla Cherkasova of Ukraine in the semis, winning 10–4, earning a birth into the championship match where she’ll face Nigerian Blessing Oborududu.

Tamyra Mensah-Stock

At Men’s Greco 97 kg (213 lbs.), G’Angelo Hancock showed poise with a 5–0 opening-round decision over Haykel Achouri of Tunisia before falling to Tadeusz Michalik of Poland. Early in the bout, Hancock was called for a one-point step out. Hancock, believing the ruling was incorrect, asked his coach to challenge and send the call to a video review. The review found the initial call correct, which cost Hancock an additional point. Despite narrowing the gap to 4–3, time expired, and the errant challenge cost Hancock, who would have had criteria at 3–3, the match. Michalik then lost to Musa Evloev of the Russian Olympic Committee, eliminating Hancock from the tournament.

Day 2 medal matches will start at 5:30 a.m. ET on August 3.

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