By Isaac Risco (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Mijail Lopez of Cuba became a three time Olympic gold medalist on Monday in Greco-Roman wrestling, providing the Latin American sports power its second title thus far in Rio 2016.
Lopez defeated Riza Kayaalp of Turkey in the category of over 130 kilograms with a 6-0 score in the final and repeated his gold medal won in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Lopez equaled the effort of the Russian Alexandr Karelin (champion in Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996).
Having fought Karelin “would have been nice,” said the 33-year-old Cuban, who hinted at his retirement after this tournament. “I think these are my last Olympics,” he said.
The wrestler reached the individual Olympic gold medal feat of also legendary Cuban athletes like boxers Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon. “It feels very big, very important, to achieve those three titles for our country,” said Lopez.
With the victory, Lopez reaffirmed today in Rio his undisputed mastery of this discipline against Kayaalp, his great rival in recent years.
Lopez had already defeated Kayaalp four years ago in the semifinal of London 2012, claiming revenge of the defeat inflicted he suffered to the Turk in 2011 in the final of the world championships.
The five-time world champion wrestler was one of the most probable medal winners for the island’s delegation in Rio.
Ismael Borrero, another wrestler, won earlier on Monday the first gold medal for Cuba in the category of up to 59 kilograms defeating Shinobu Ota of Japan.
Cuba’s other medals thus far in Rio were a silver medal from Idalys Ortiz in judo and three bronze medals in boxing, won by Joahnys Argilagos, Lazaro Jorge Alvarez and Erislandy Savon.
The island opts for another medal in boxing with Arlen Lopez in the semifinal of the category up to 75 kilograms.
The Caribbean island, will around 11 million people, is traditionally the Olympic power in Latin America.