López Claims Cuba’s Second Wrestling Medal at London Games

London Olympics 2012

Liván López Azcuy has claimed Olympic bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games…

Livan Lopez Azcuy

The 30-year-old Cuban grappler beat Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan in his bronze medal match on Sunday in the men’s freestyle wrestling 66kg at the London Games.

In winning the bronze medal at this year’s match, López matches his medal-earning performance at the 2011 world championships in Istanbul. He also claimed the gold in the category at the 2011 Pan American Games.

Livan Lopez Azcuy

López gives Cuba its second wrestling medal at the London Games, after Mijaín López’s won a Greco-Roman wrestling gold earlier in the Games.

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.

López Defends His Greco-Roman Wrestling Title at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

It’s a tale of redemption for Mijaín López at the 2012 Olympic Games…

The 29-year-old Cuban wrestler took down Heiki Nabi of Estonia 2-0, 1-0 on Monday to claim his second consecutive Olympic gold medal in the men’s Greco-Roman wrestling 120 kg category at the London Games.

Mijaín López

But it was López’s semifinal against Riza Kayaalp of Turkey that proved to be the most highly anticipated match of the day.

The wrestling world was left in shock and disbelief when Kayaalp beat the seemingly unbeatable Lopez at the 2011 World Championships. López had won world titles in 2005 and 2007, claimed the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and then went on to the next two world championships.

Mijaín López

But Lopez restored order to the heavyweight division he’s ruled for years by dropping Kayaalp in that semifinal match. He scored a couple of late points while on offense to win the first period. That set the tone heading into the second period, which also went to the “par terre” tiebreaker position. This time López  stayed on the bottom, keeping Kayaalp from scoring on him. Kayaalp flailed wildly as he attempted to pick López off the mat, but nothing worked.

Following that redemptive win over Kayaalp, López believed no one else could touch him… And that proved to be the case when he defeated Nabi in the final in similar fashion to take home the gold.

Mijaín López

“I think it was a really good fight,” said López, whose performance on Monday solidified his place as one of the great Greco-Roman heavyweights of all time.

With the victory, López becomes the third wrestler to win multiple gold medals at 120 kilograms, joining Russian legend Alexandre Karelin and Alexander Koltschinkski of the former Soviet Union.

Asked if he’d be back for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, López was noncommittal.

“I mean I am [almost] 30 already. I have three Olympics behind me. It is going to be a little bit more difficult, but life goes on,” said López.

Nabarrete Zanetti Wins Brazil’s First-Ever Gymnastics Medal at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Call him the new “lord of the rings.” Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti has taken down the defending champion at the 2012 Olympic Games, earning his place in the annals of Brazil’s sports history…

The 22-year-old Brazilian gymnast edged out a victory over China’s Chen Yibing to claim the gold medal on Monday in the men’s rings final at the London Games.

Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti

Nabarrete Zanetti and the rest of this finalists faced the difficult task of trying to unseat Chen, the 2008 Olympic Games champion in this event, after he kicked off the competition with a score of 15.800.

No one could top the four-time world champ’s impressive score until Nabarrete Zanetti’s 15.900 at the end of the competition.

Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti

Nabarrete Zanetti had qualified fourth for the men’s rings final with the highest execution score, but he had the lowest marks in difficulty among the eight gymnasts.

But, he matched Chen’s difficulty score on Monday at 6.800 and was one of three gymnasts to score at least a nine in execution.

“I’m very happy, I was the last gymnast to compete and I stayed calm and took my moment,” said Nabarrete Zanetti.

Nabarrete Zanetti, who came in second to Chen at the 2011 World Championships, claimed Brazil’s first-ever Olympic gymnastics medal.

Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti

“This medal isn’t just for me but for all the athletes and all the gymnasts in Brazil,” Nabarrete Zanetti told reporters after he struggled to hold back the tears during the victory ceremony.

Nabarrete Zanetti’s performance knocked Italian Matteo Morandi into the bronze position with a score of 15.733.