It’s a three-peat for Mijaín López…
The 33-year-old Cuban wrestler, widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, won his third consecutive Olympic title in Greco-Roman’s heaviest weight class after defeating longtime rival Riza Kayaalp of Turkey in the 130kg Gold Medal match at the 2012 Rio Games.
It marked the third straight year that Lopez and Kayaalp met in the final round with a major global title on the line. They also faced each other in the Gold Medal matches at the world championships the last two years — Lopez won in 2014, Kayaalp won in 2015.
Their rivalry also includes a bout in the semifinals of the 2012 London Games, which was won by Lopez. He would go on to win the gold medal after defeating Estonia’s Heiki Nabi.
Lopez got the scoring started early this time around, hitting a big four-point throw about 15 seconds into the match. The bout got chippy late, with Kayaalp connecting with Lopez’s head after the whistle blew. Kayaalp’s move briefly awarded two penalty points to Lopez, which would have given him an 8-0 victory by technical superiority, but the points were taken off the board. The match resumed with less than a minute to go, and Lopez ultimately emerged with a 6-0 win.
Lopez also won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.