Turkish wrestler Rıza Kayaalp settles for Olympic silver

Turkish wrestler Rıza Kayaalp settles for Olympic silver

Turkish wrestler Rıza Kayaalp settles for Olympic silver

AFP photo

Turkey’s hopes of clinching a gold medal in the wrestling category sank on Aug. 15 when reigning world champion Rıza Kayaalp lost 6-0 to Cuban Mijain Lopez in the Greco-Roman 130-kilogram category final.

It was Lopez’s third consecutive Olympic gold, equaling the record set by Russia’s legendary grappler Aleksandr Karelin. 

Lopez celebrated by doing a salsa-infused, hip-shimmy dance in the middle of the mat, sending the strong Cuban fan base and an arena full of Brazilians into ecstasy. 

“The dance just came natural to me,” Lopez said moments after his match. “Brazil is Brazil, and in Brazil you have to dance!” 

Russia’s Sergey Semenov and Azerbaijan’s Sabah Shariati won bronze.

Semenov beat Germany’s Eduard Popp 3-0, while Shariati defeated Heiki Nabi of Estonia 6-0.

Lopez won golds at his 130-kilogram category in Beijing and London. He has also won five world championships and three silver world medals, cementing his status as a sporting legend in Cuba. 

At last year’s world championships in Las Vegas, Lopez lost to Kayaalp 1-0, and most thought Aug. 15’s bout would be equally tight. 

But Lopez came out aggressively, and essentially won the match in the first 30 seconds after securing a chest-lock and flipping the Turkish wrestler on his back to earn a quick 4 points. 

He added another step-out point in the scramble that followed the impressive throw, then earned a final penalty point in the second period as the frustrated Kayaalp slapped him. 

Turkey has so far won two silver medal in Rio, with Kayaalp and Turkmenistan-origin weightlifter Daniyar İsmayilov in the men’s 59-kilogram category. With 11 of the 17-day competition over, Turkey hopes for another now pin on taekwondo practitioner Servet Tazegül of Azerbaijani origin. 

The reigning champion will be on the tatami on Aug. 18 against Ignacio Morales of Chile in the men’s 68-kilogram category round of 16.

In the only other wrestling category competing on Aug. 15, Russia’s Davit Chakvetadze took the gold in the 85-kilogram class. 

He was losing 2-0 after the first period, but then put on a dominating display to win 9-2 over the current world champion Zhan Belenyuk of Ukraine. 

“I pulled myself together, focused and finished the match,” Chakvetadze said. “I switched myself on. Russia and me needed the victory.”

Javid Hamzatau of Belarus and Denis Kudla of Germany won bronze.

Meanwhile, China’s hopes of repeating its 2012 Olympic sweep of all five badminton gold medals were shattered on Aug. 15 when both its pairs were knocked out in the semifinals of the mixed doubles.

London mixed silver medalists Xu Chen and Ma Jin were beaten by Malaysian pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, 21-12, 21-19.

Then, in a major shock, top seeds and defending champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei were dumped out by Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia, 21-16, 21-15.

“This is for my family, my wife, my children, my parents, everyone watching back home and the people of Indonesia,” said Ahmad.