Lopez Goes For Fourth Gold in Pan American Games Wrestling
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 01:48 By William May
TORONTO (July 13) – Five-time world champion Mijain LOPEZ (CUB) attempts to become the third wrestler in Pan American Games history to win four gold medals when action gets under Wednesday in Mississagua, west of Toronto.
If successful, Lopez will join Greco-Roman greats Hector MILIAN (CUB) and Juan MAREN (CUB) as the only winners of four gold medals in Pan American Games wrestling.
Milian won four gold medals from 1987 to 1999 at 100kg and 130kg, while Maren struck gold four times (1991-2003) at 62kg, 63kg and 66kg.
In addition to his three Games’ gold medals, Lopez is also a nine-time Pan American championships titlist, winner of five world championship titles, as well as being gold medalist at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.
Along with Lopez’ bid for a fourth gold medal on the second day of the wrestling competition, five wrestlers in freestyle and three in women’s wrestling will seek their second gold medals at these continental Games.
The United States will try to double up on the final day of wrestling competition as 2011 gold medalists Jordan BURROUGHS (74kg) and Jake HERBERT (86kg) all hoping to repeat their success of four years ago in Guadalajara, Mexico.
World bronze medalist Livan LOPEZ AZCUY (CUB), who won the gold medal at 66kg in Guadalajara, will have to unseat Burroughs at 74kg if he wants to make it two in a row.
Meanwhile, Franklin GOMEZ (PUR), world silver medalist and Pan Am Games champion at 60kg in 2011, is entered at 65kg and will likely have to face Brent METCALF (USA), currently ranked No.5 in the world, if he is to repeat as a Pan Am Games champ.
In the women’s events, two-time Olympic Games bronze medalist Jackeline RENTERIA CASTILLO (COL) seeks her first gold medal in the Pan Am Games since winning at 55kg in Rio de Janeiro in 2007.
Renteria is entered at 63kg for Toronto and could face defending champion Katerina VIDIAUX (CUB) for the gold medal, while Lisset HECHEVARRIA (CUB) must overcome a crowded field at 75kg to repeat.
Cuba has been the dominant force in the classic style over the last eight Pan Am Games and has amassed 57 gold medals overall – more than double the 27 gold medals won by the U.S. since Greco-Roman was first contested in 1975.
Cuba won six of the seven gold medals on offer in Guadalajara and swept all seven categories at Santo Domingo (DOM) 2003. The last time Cuba did not win a majority of the gold medals was in San Juan in 1979, when Cuba and the U.S. each won four with Canada grabbing the remaining two.
In addition to super heavyweight Lopez, Cuba sends three-time Pan American champion Ismael BORRERO (59kg) along with 2015 Pan Am winners Miguel MARTINEZ (66kg) and Julio BASTIDA (74kg) to Toronto.
The U.S. has been Cuba’s main challenger in the Americas the last 40 years and comes to Toronto with world bronze medalist Andy BISEK (75kg), April’s Pan Am winner Robert SMITH (130kg) and 2014 Pan Am champ Jon ANDERSON (85kg).
Spenser MANGO (59kg) and Borrero both finished in fifth place at the 2014 world championships and could be headed for a showdown in the featherweight final. Jansel RAMIREZ (DOM), 2010 Pan Am champ, will challenge for a place on the podium.
The Dominican Republic, which won a total of six medals in 2011, sends only three wrestlers, including Ramirez. Notably absent is Guadalajara bronze medalist and Pan Am runner-up Ramon Antonio GARCIA (130kg), but freestyle entry Josue ENCARNACION (125kg) also has Greco-Roman experience.
Women’s Wrestling was first contested at Santo Domingo 2003 and over the first three meetings, action was only contested in the four previous Olympic weight categories – 48, 55, 63 and 72kg. Action in Mississagua will be held, for the first time, in six weight categories.
The United States ran away with all four gold medals in 2003 and leads the overall medal standings for women with seven, followed by Canada and Cuba with two each.
Canada’s two gold medals were won by Beijing 2008 gold medalist Carol HUYNH (48kg) in 2003 and 2007. Genevieve MORRISON (CAN), winner of the Pan Am title in April, will try to keep the flyweight crown in Canada.
Angelica BUSTOS BONE (ECU), the 2014 Pan Am champ, 2013 world bronze medalist Alyssa LAMPE (USA) and 2011 bronze medal winner Carolina CASTILLO HIDALGO (COL) lead a pack of wrestlers trying to take the 48kg title south of the Canadian border.
Along with Morrison, Pan Am champ Justine DISTACIO (75kg), 2014 Pan Am champion Michell FAZZARI (58kg) and two-time junior world champ Dorothy YEATS (69kg) will also be prospecting for gold.
World champ Adeline GRAY (USA), No.1 in the current world rankings, will face a crowded field at 75kg which includes world silver medalist Aline FERREIRA (BRA), 2011 Pan Am gold medalist Hechevarria and Andrea OLAYA GUTIERREZ (COL), a bronze medal winner at the Pan Am championships in April.
Along with Renteria and Vidiaux at 63kg, other favorites in the women’s events include Pan Am champs Sayury CANON (COL) at 53kg, Joice SILVA (BRA) at 58kg and Yudaris SANCHEZ (CUB) at 69kg.
In the first two Pan American Games in 1951 and 1955, Argentina and the U.S. split the gold medals, 4-4, in both years. But, U.S. wrestlers swept the gold medals the next three meetings and never looked back.
The U.S. leads the freestyle medal standings with 91 gold medals followed by Cuba with 30. Argentina is in third place with its eight gold medals from 60 years ago.
But in 2011, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico picked up their first Pan American Games gold medalists with Juan RAMIREZ BELTRE (DOM) at 55kg and Franklin GOMEZ (PUR) at 60kg.
With four of the seven 2011 gold medalists returning, the early favorites in 2015 have already emerged with Gomez and Metcalf the go-to guys at 65kg, Azcuy and Burroughs at 74kg -- where Burroughs owns a win over Azcuy in last year’s Pan Am finals.
Meanwhile, world bronze medalist at 61kg Yowlys BONNE (CUB) appears to be on a tear since dropping to 57kg this spring, but John PINEDA (CAN) will try to trip up or, at least, slow down the 2011 bronze medal winner at 60kg.
Two-time world silver medalist Reineris SALAS (CUB) has won four Pan Am championship titles but gets his first chance at the Pan American Games. Herbert, the Games’ defending champion, is also the 2009 world silver medalist.
At 97kg, Javier CORTINA LACERRA (CUB) is the 2014 Pan Am champ as well as a bronze medal winner at the world championships. Former junior world champ Kyle SNYDER (USA) is the new kid on the block after defeating defending Games’ champion Jacob VARNER (USA) in the U.S. world team trials.
Tuesday, July 14
16:30–18:15 – Medical exam & Weigh-in: Greco-Roman 59-66-75-85kg
Wednesday, July 15
14:30–17:30 – Qualification & Repechage Rounds: Greco-Roman 59-66-75-85kg
16:30–18:15 – Medical exam & Weigh-in: Greco-Roman 98-130kg; Women 48-53-58kg
20:00–22:30 – Finals & Award Ceremonies: Greco-Roman 59-66-75-85kg
Thursday, July 16
14:30–17:30 – Qualification & Repechage Rounds: Greco-Roman 98-130kg; Women 48-53-58kg
16:30–18:15 – Medical exam & Weigh-in: Women 63-69-75kg; Freestyle 57-65kg
20:00–23:00 – Finals & Award Ceremonies: Greco-Roman 98-130kg; Women 48-53-58kg
Friday, July 17
14:30–17:30 – Qualification & Repechage Rounds: Women 63-69-75kg; Freestyle 57-65kg
16:30–18:15 – Medical exam & Weigh-in: Freestyle 74-86-97-125kg
20:00–23:00 – Finals & Award Ceremonies: Women 63-69-75kg; Freestyle 57-65kg
Saturday, July 18
14:30–17:30 – Qualification & Repechage Rounds: Freestyle 74-86-97-125kg
20:00–22:30 – Finals & Award Ceremonies: Freestyle 74-86-97-125kg