Cuban wrestler Mijain Lopez returns to break Olympic record he shares with Michael Phelps

Mijain Lopez

Cuban Mijaín López plans to return to competitive wrestling in a bid to become the first person to win the same individual Olympic event five times.

At the Tokyo Games, López became the fifth person to win the same individual Olympic event four times after Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis, Al Oerter and Danish sailor Paul Elvstrøm. Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho also won four individual Olympic titles, but over two different weight classes.

If he makes it to Paris, López would also bid to tie the record of winning an individual gold medal at five Olympics, set by Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst last year. Wüst‘s golds alternated between the 1500m and 3000m.

López last competed internationally at the Tokyo Games, which was expected to be his farewell. But López did not leave his shoes on the mat (the symbolic act of retirement in wrestling) after winning the Greco-Roman super heavyweight (286-pound) title and said later that year that he had not yet decided whether to make a Paris 2024 bid.

Cuban media recently reported that López was back in training, including with the national team in Croatia this week. United World Wrestling then reported Monday that López said he is making another Olympic bid.

López shares the record of five Olympic wrestling appearances and in Paris can become the oldest person to win an Olympic wrestling medal of any color, according to

The 6-foot-5 López, whose nicknames include El Terrible, may face a challenge just to make the Cuban Olympic team. Countryman Óscar Pino, 29, won super heavyweight silver or bronze at the world championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019, when Lopez did not compete in any world championships in that Olympic cycle and competed sparingly overall.

López celebrated his last two Olympic titles by playfully bodyslamming his coach, Raul Trujillo.

As of 2021, many of his medals, trophies and certificates were on display in his home in Herradura, eight miles south of the center of Havana.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Olympic champion Tamyra Mensah-Stock retires from wrestling, signs with WWE

Tamyra Mensah-Stock

Tamyra Mensah-Stock, who in Tokyo became the first Black U.S. woman to win an Olympic wrestling title, said she retired from competitive wrestling and signed with the WWE.

“I feel like I have done everything that I can in Olympic wrestling,” she told ESPN. “I’ve got the gold medal. I’m a multiple world champion, and I’ve been in it for 15 years, and I’ve had an incredible journey.”

Mensah-Stock signaled at least a temporary break from the sport last month when she declined her spot in June’s Final X, which determines the team for September’s world championships.

Mensah-Stock said in an interview shortly after winning her Olympic gold medal that she wanted to pursue WWE.

After the Tokyo Games and the October 2021 World Championships (where she won bronze coming off COVID and a back injury), she took eight months off and had thoughts of quitting wrestling.

She returned in dominant fashion in 2022, winning her second world title in the 68kg division.

She routed her four opponents by a combined 36-0 over the two-day competition in Belgrade. Every match ended early via pin or mercy rule (a 10-point lead). She pinned Japan’s Ami Ishii at the 2-minute, 11-second mark of a six-minute regulation final on Sept. 15, her most recent competitive match.

“I wiped the floor with everybody, and I was like, man, this is not fun anymore. I need a change,” Mensah-Stock said. “Something in the back of my head that’s just been itching at me, a dream of mine for I don’t know how long. I just wanted to be in the WWE.”

The U.S. team for this September’s worlds in Belgrade will be determined at June’s Final X with head-to-head matchups in each of the 30 weight classes among women’s freestyle, men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Mensah-Stock’s absence could shake up U.S. women’s wrestling, which is deep at 76kg, the weight class directly above Mensah-Stock’s 68kg.

Kennedy Blades, who at age 17 was runner-up to Mensah-Stock at the Tokyo Olympic Trials, since moved up to 76kg.

Adeline Gray, a six-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist, returned from childbirth to compete at last week’s U.S. Open at 76kg, a division she owned domestically for nearly a decade. She lost to Blades in the U.S. Open final.

Amit Elor, who was born Jan. 1, 2004, won last year’s world title at 72kg to become the youngest U.S. wrestler to win an Olympic or world title. Since 72kg is not an Olympic weight, Elor must move down to 68kg or up to 76kg by next year.

Kylie Welker was runner-up to Gray at 76kg at Olympic Trials at 17 years old, then won the world junior title in August 2021.

Mensah-Stock is the latest Olympian to join WWE. Past gold medalists to do so include Kurt Angle (1996) and Gable Steveson (2021), who unretired at the U.S. Open and bids for the 2024 Paris Games.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Rulon Gardner misses weight for comeback wrestling meet, still eyes Olympic Trials


Rulon Gardner, a 2000 Olympic wrestling champion, said he was 15 pounds to heavy to compete at this week’s U.S. Open despite registering for the event, which would have been his first meet in more than a decade.

“I missed the weigh-ins by 15 pounds, but, being 51 years old, I talked to my sister, who’s a cardiologist,” Gardner told Flowrestling. “She was like, ‘Rulon, there’s a chance that you could die tonight.’ It’s like, you know what, wrestling is important, but it’s not worth taking my life for. I’ve gotten healthy. I’m back to wrestling, back to training and I’m going to continue to compete.”

To be eligible to compete in the Greco-Roman heavyweight division, Gardner needed to weigh in at 130kg (286 pounds) or less on Wednesday morning.

Gardner said he still plans to compete again, both later this year and at the April 2024 Olympic Trials. He said his goal is to put the spotlight on the Greco-Roman discipline and improve it. Over the last three Olympics, American wrestlers won 17 medals in freestyle events and zero in Greco-Roman.

Gardner chronicled a return to wrestling training on social media in recent months.

He hasn’t competed since a failed comeback bid for the 2012 Olympic Trials, when he tried to get under the weight limit but did not ultimately weigh in. Since, Gardner spoke multiple times about wanting to lose the weight necessary to compete again.

In 2020, he said, “I have well over 150 pounds more to lose,” according to The Associated Press.

In 2000, Gardner stunned Aleksandr Karelin in the Olympic Greco-Roman heavyweight final, handing the Russian his first loss in 13 years. It was dubbed “Miracle on the Mat.”

Gardner had many struggles since:

*In February 2002, driving a snowmobile off a hidden snow shelf into a frozen lake, getting stranded overnight in the wilderness for 17 hours in temperatures that were as low as 25 degrees below zero. The middle toe on his right foot had to be amputated due to frostbite. He came back to win Olympic bronze in 2004, leaving his shoes on the mat in the symbolic act of retirement.
*In February 2007, surviving a plane crash into a bay by swimming more than an hour in 44-degree water and spending the night without shelter.
*In 2010, going on “The Biggest Loser” at 474 pounds in a bid to lose more than 200 pounds to make weight for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at age 40. He reportedly said he got down to 280. The Olympic heavyweight limit was 264.5 at the time.
*In 2012, filing for bankruptcy and losing his Olympic gold and bronze medals as a result. As of 2020, he recouped the medals, according to the AP.

In 2018, Gardner became head wrestling coach at Herriman High School in Utah.

U.S. Open winners in each weight class advance to head-to-head matchups in June to determine the team for September’s world championships. The rest of the top seven in Gardner’s division advance to May’s world team trials, where the winner also advances to the June final to determine the world team spot.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!