Men’s Wrestling: Cuba’s López one of the best ever
Even though it was only the semifinals, Mijaín López knew he’d win the gold after beating his Turkish rival Riza Kayaalp. Call it overconfidence if you want, but Lòpez had little problem beating Estonian Heiki Nabi for his second-consecutive gold at 120-kg. The gold cements López as one of the best-ever heavyweights in Greco-roman wrestling.
In other news…
- Women’s Boxing: There will be no gold medal for Houston’s Marlen Esparza as she lost to China’s Ren Cancan in the semifinal bout. It’s the first time women’s boxing was a sport in the Olympics, and with that bronze the U.S. Women’s boxing team brought more medals home than their U.S. male counterparts (Claressa Shields is still in the hunt for a gold).
- Men’s Basketball: Argentina’s golden generation, featuring NBA stars Manu Ginóbili, Luis Scola, and Andrés Nocioni beat Brazil 82-77 to secure a spot in the semifinals. Unfortunately, the albiceleste face the red-hot U.S., the same team they lost to in the group rounds. But don’t count the 2004 Olympic champions out; they’ll surely give the U.S. all they can handle (just ask Carmelo Anthony).
- Men’s Soccer: Even though the women are garnering most of the attention in soccer (and rightfully so), Saturday’s men’s final should also be pretty good. Mexico came back from 1-0 to beat a tough Japan team 3-1, and Brazil was Brazil in a 3-0 victory over South Korea. For all of Brazil’s success, the pentacampeones have never won Olympic gold.
Men’s Track and Field: London’s most memorable medal ceremony
It’s been a very long time since the U.S. won a medal of any color in the men’s 1500-meter race (1968 to be exact), but Mexican-American Leo Manzano’s silver medal put an end to that drought. Manzano came to the United States with his family at the age of four, and he honored his Mexican heritage by celebrating with both the U. S. and Mexican flags.
Latinos dominated the 400-meter hurdles as Dominicano Félix Sánchez and Boricua Javier Culson won the gold and bronze medals, respectively. It was indeed a good night for the Dominican Republic as 19-year-old Luguelín Santos won the silver in the 400-meters.
Just a few weeks shy of his 35th birthday, Sánchez came back to reclaim the gold he won in 2004 and failed to defend in Beijing. Sánchez’s grandmother died just as he was set to begin his defense in Beijing; he pinned a picture of her inside his race bib in London for extra motivation. Needless to say, it worked.
There will surely be a lot of things that I’ll forget about London 2012, but Sanchez’s bittersweet tears on the medal stand are forever etched in my brain (sadly, I couldn’t find video of this, the IOC has blocked nearly every Olympic video from youtube). There are many great things about the Olympic games, but nothing’s better than seeing raw emotion from athletes who have worked all their lives for that one moment.
The Dominican anthem has only been played three times during a medal ceremony in the history of the Olympic games. Sánchez is responsible for two of those renditions, with the latest one being the most memorable of the 2012 Olympic games.