Iglesias Wins Light Welterweight Gold at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Roniel Iglesias has gone from third to first at the 2012 Olympic Games

The 23-year-old Cuban fighter won the men’s boxing light welterweight (64kgs) gold medal at the London Games on Saturday with a 22-15 win over Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk, earning Cuba’s first Olympics boxing gold in eight years.

Roniel Iglesias
Mongolia’s Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg and Italy’s Vincenzo Mangiacapre won bronze medals.

Iglesias, the 2009 world champion, improved on the bronze he won at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing with a solid display.

“Today is the most important in my whole career,” said Iglesias “Without my family I could not achieve this victory. They will be so proud and I dedicate this to them.”

Roniel Iglesias
Iglesias deserved the title after showing consistency throughout his match en route to the final, including his 18-15 win over Brazil’s world champion Everton dos Santos in the Round of 16.

With some quick jabs and solid head shots, the Iglesias took the first round 5-4, having knocked Berinchyk down, and he maintained his work-rate to take the second 6-5.
Roniel Iglesias

Berinchyk was out-classed in the third as Iglesias upped the pace and finished by taking the round 11-6 to take gold, giving Cuba it’s first boxing gold at this year’s games after the traditional amateur power failed to win a gold in Beijing

Despaigne Claims Cuba’s Sole Taekwondo Medal at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Robelis Despaigne will be heading home from the 2012 Olympic Games as his country’s sole taekwondo medalist.

The 24-year-old Cuban taekwondo practitioner won a bronze medal at the London Games on Saturday in the men’s heavyweight event after twice world champion Dada Modibo Keita of Mali pulled out of their medal bout with cruciate ligament damage.

Robelis Despaigne

It’s Cuba’s first men’s taekwondo medal since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, when Ángel Matos won the gold in the men’s middleweight class.

In all, Cuba has four taekwondo medals, including silver medals won by Urbia Melendez at the 2000 Olympic Games and Yanelis Labrada at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Falcão Claims Men’s Boxing Silver at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Esquiva Falcão Florentino came thisclose to making history at the 2012 Olympic Games

The 22-year-old Brazilian fighter lost an oh-so-close bout to Japan’s Ryota Murata in the final of the men’s middleweight contest at the London Games. With the win, Murata denied Brazil its first Olympic boxing gold.

Esquiva Falcao

Falcão appeared to serve notice to the rest of the middleweight division when he destroyed Britain’s Anthony Ogogo in the semifinal.

But Murata, a silver medalist at last year’s world amateur championships, gave the aggressive Falcão a lesson on how to score points in the final, defending expertly and catching the Brazilian each time he came in close to win the bout 14-13.

Murata countered splendidly in the first round to open up a two point lead and even though Falcão cut that down to a single point after the second round with a couple of big lefts, Murata never panicked.

Esquiva Falcao

When Falcão received a warning in the final round his fate was sealed and the Brazilian nodded in agreement as the judges gave the bout to Murata by just a point.

Falcão, who flirted with a life of street crime before his father Touro Moreno, a big name in Brazilian boxing, intervened, remembered his humble roots after achieving his country’s best boxing result.

“I’m very happy. I wanted a lot to achieve this moment. It’s the most important day of my career,” said Falcão, who wants to fight at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.

Esquiva Falcao

“It is very important for my family, I come from a humble family and this is very important for all of them,” said Falcão. “There will be a huge celebration for me when I get back to Brazil.”

Brazil’s only previous boxing medal before the three won in London came in the 1968 Olympic  Games.

Espinoza Bounces Back to Win Taekwondo Bronze at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

María Espinoza won’t be leaving the 2012 Olympic Games empty-handed…

María Espinoza

Following her defeat at the hands of Serbia’s Milica Mandic, the 24-year-old Mexican taekwondo practitioner turned the beat around to defeat Cuba’s Glenhis Hernandez on Saturday in the bronze medal match at the London Games in the women’s 67-kilogram plus division.

Espinoza—the defending Olympic champion, after winning gold in the division at the 2008 Olympic Games—racked up crucial points in round three to beat Hernandez after draws in the first two rounds, winning 4-2 overall.

María Espinoza

Espinoza’s bronze gave Mexico its seventh medal at the London Games.

Espinal Wins Puerto Rico’s First-Ever Wrestling Medal at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

He may have fallen short of the gold at the 2012 Olympic Games… But Jaime Yusept Espinal still has plenty of reason to celebrate.

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican grappler lost his gold medal match on Saturday in the men’s 84-kilogram freestyle at the London Games to Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan.

Jaime Yusept Espinal

Sharifov, the defending world champion, dominated the match against Espinal. He registered four points-scoring throws in a first round he won 6-1 before taking the second 2-0 to wrap up the win.

Despite the loss, Espinal has managed to make Puerto Rican sports history with his second place finish at the London Games. He delivered only the second silver medal in Puerto Rico’s Olympic history – and the first medal of any kind by a Puerto Rican wrestler.

Jaime Yusept Espinal

Georgia’s Dato Marsagishvili and Iran’s Ehsan Naser Lashgari won bronze.

Brazil Defends Women’s Volleyball Title at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

It’s a re-pe-pe-pe-peat for Brazil’s women’s volleyball team the 2012 Olympic Games

The defending Olympic champions came back from one set down to beat the United States on Saturday and claim the gold medal at the London Games, resulting in a carnival-like atmosphere at Earls Court.

Brazil's Women's Volleyball Team

Jaqueline Carvalho had 18 points to help Brazil overcome that disastrous first set and win 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.

Las brasileñas celebrated by doing cartwheels on the court before dancing onto the podium singing “the champions are back” to go into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with home field advantage and the title of two-time defending champions.

“That’s what Brazil is all about, about joy and smiling,” said captain Fabiana Claudino, who scored 14 points in the win. “And that’s how we play.”

Brazil's Women's Volleyball Team

Fabiana certainly led by example as she helped settle her teammates’ nerves after starting off with a shaky first set.

“I just told the girls to relax after the first set, to focus on what we do well, which is to spike well, attack well, defend well, all the things that got us here,” said Fabiana.

After leveling the match, Brazil seemed to pass on those early nerves to the American team.

Brazil's Women's Volleyball Team

“There was a lot of anxiety in the first set. We didn’t think about what we did four years ago, we just spoke between ourselves, we are going to do it,” said Sheilla Castro. “To tell you the truth, it was like their faces were staring into nowhere. We put pressure on them and they felt it.”

Brazil started to pull away in the fourth set, as they fed off the roaring crowd of 15,000 fans to prevent the U.S. from breaking into the gold medal club. Only Brazil, China, Japan, Cuba and Russia have won women’s volleyball gold.

Brazil's Women's Volleyball Team

Brazil became the third team to repeat as gold medalists. The Soviet Union won in 1968 and 1972, while Cuba won three straight starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games. Brazil also won bronze in 1996 and 2000.

“This was such an important victory for Brazil with the Olympics in our home next,” said Carvalho.

Spain Claims Its First Women’s Handball Medal at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

The third time’s a charm for Spain’s women’s handball team at the 2012 Olympic Games

Spain beat South Korea 31-29 after two periods of extra time on Saturday to win the Olympic women’s handball bronze medal at the London Games.

Spain's Women's Handball Team

Competing in only its third Olympics in the women’s handball event, the Spanish team held its nerve against the two-time Olympic champions, who finished off the podium for only the second time in eight appearances. The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney is the only other time that South Korea ended the competition out of the medals since the sport was introduced at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Spain’s Jessica Alonso scored the game’s final goal late in the second period of extra time after the teams had already finished tied after normal time and the first period of extra time.

Goalkeeper Mihaela Ciobanu came on just for penalties and saved four of the five she faced to help Spain to the upset win.

South Korea had a four-goal lead in the first half and could’ve made it five except for a good save by Spanish keeper Silvia Navarro. A few minutes later, Spain was ahead after six straight strikes.

Spain's Women's Handball Team

Suddenly the Spaniards, who seemed out of their element against the inexhaustible Koreans, found their form and when they surged into a four-goal lead after less than eight minutes of the second half they looked quite at ease.

But Spain, who finished third at the 2011 World Championships, buckled under some heavy Korean pressure in normal time and the two extra time periods. But the team managed to get back into rhythm and end the game on top.

Peralta Leads Mexico to Its First Soccer Gold at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

With his performance in the men’s soccer final at the 2012 Olympic Games, Oribe Peralta will undoubtedly receive a hero’s welcome when he returns to Mexico.

Following his impressive play in the semifinal match against Japan, the 28-year-old Mexican footballer had what could be called the game of his life. Peralta scored a mere 29 seconds into the final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and added another goal in the second half in Mexico’s upset win over Brazil 2-1 at the London Games.

Mexico's Oribe Peralta

With the win, Mexico claims its first-ever Olympic gold medal in men’s soccer since the country started competing in the sport at the Olympics in 1928. Mexico’s previous best performance was at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, when the team came in fourth place after losing the bronze medal game to Japan.

Peralta gave Mexico the early lead after Brazil’s Rafael tried to make a backward pass. Mexico midfielder Javier Aquino intercepted the ball, sending it forward to Peralta just outside the area. With no defenders near him, he calmly sent his shot into the left corner.

Mexico's Oribe Peralta

Peralta’s score was the fastest Olympic goal since the 1976 Olympics Games in Montreal, when football’s governing body began keeping records of the competition, according to FIFA.

Peralta’s second goal came off a firm header from near the penalty spot after a free kick cross by Marco Fabian.

Mexico's Oribe Peralta

“I don’t know if this was the best match of my career, but what I do know is that this is the most important because I am here today with a gold medal,” Peralta said. “I dreamed about this moment. It is one of those things you don’t get to live every day.”

The shocked Brazilian team appeared to be shaken by the early goal and struggled to create scoring opportunities throughout the game. Hulk scored the team’s only goal with a low shot from inside the area in the first minute of injury time.

Mexico's Olympic Soccer Team

Brazil had been trying to win its first Olympic gold—the only significant trophy the five-time World Cup champions haven’t won in soccer.

It was the team’s first Olympic final in men’s football since the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, when the team had to settle for silver. Brazil also lost the final four years earlier at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Craviotto Earns His First-Ever Individual Medal at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Saúl Craviotto Rivero has paddled his way to a first individual medal at the 2012 Olympic Games

The 27-year-old Spanish sprint canoer earned the silver in the men’s 200m kayak final at the London Games, finishing a mere 0.294 seconds behind Britain’s Ed McKeever in the sport’s fastest and newest Olympic discipline.

Saul Craviotto Rivero

McKeever’s strong start may have been the difference in the race. He had the best start in the eight-man field and comfortably held on in a fierce headwind at Dorney Lake, finishing with a time of 36.246.

Canada’s Mark de Jonge took home the bronze with a time of 36.657.

Saul Craviotto Rivero

Craviotto, who has been racing since the mid 2000s, had previously won the gold medal in the K-2 500-meter event with Carlos Pérez at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Álvarez’s Run Ends with Boxing Bronze at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Lázaro Álvarez Estrada won’t get the chance to fight for gold at the 2012 Olympic Games

The 21-year-old Cuban boxer—the reigning world champion and top seed in the men’s bantamweight draw at the London Games—suffered a 19-14 loss on Friday to Ireland’s John Joe Nevin, who will now face Great Britain’s Luke Campbell in Saturday’s gold medal match.

Lázaro Álvarez Estrada

Álvarez will have to settle for bronze, since all boxers who lose in the semifinal round are awarded bronze medals at the Olympics.

Meanwhile, Álvarez’s compatriot Yasnier Toledo Lopez will also have to settle for bronze.

The 22-year-old Cuban fighter lost to the Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko in the semifinals of the men’s light 60kg category.

But Cuba isn’t out of the running for boxing gold completely.

Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana will fight Mongolia’s Tugstsogt Nyambayar for gold in the men’s flyweight division, while the gold medalist in the light welterweight class will be determined in a match between second seed Denys Berinchyk of the Ukraine and Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo, who earlier in the tournament knocked off top-seeded Everton dos Santos Lopes of Brazil.