CHIBA, Japan (AP) – American wrestler Adeline Gray has not reached the defining moment for her career that she has been seeking for so long.
Germany’s Aline Rotter-Focken beat Denver native 7-3 on Monday night in the women’s 76kg freestyle final.
Gray is a five-time world champion, but she had never won an Olympic medal. She finished a disappointing seventh at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 while battling injuries that kept her from playing for a year.
She bounced back to win two more world titles and take the No.1 seed at the Olympics. She was convinced she would join Helen Maroulis as the only two Olympic gold medalists in American women’s wrestling.
Even with the loss, Gray believes his legacy is secure. It was only the sixth medal for an American wrestler.
“A silver medal isn’t what I came for, but it’s what I got,” said Gray. “And I’m very proud to bring home an Olympic Games medal for Team USA. I wanted it to be a different color, but I’m also very excited to come back with some material.
Rotter-Focken, the number 2 seed, was emotional after the victory.
“It’s crazy, it’s amazing,” she said. “I dreamed about it for many years and worked on it every day. It’s unreal right now. I think I need a few years to recognize it.
Rotter-Focken scored an early point for Gray’s inactivity. She countered a Gray shot to take a 3-0 lead, then scored four runs on a pitch to take a 7-0 lead.
The throw surprised Gray.
“I’m a tall, strong woman, and she put her hips inside me and crushed me to the ground,” Gray said. “And she took advantage of a certain length that she has on me.”
Gray finally got on set on an outing with just over a minute to go. She scored two on an out with about 30 seconds left, but that was all she could handle.
She then watched her friend celebrate and carry the German flag. They are both 30 years old and have been competing since their teens.
“Aline is a friend and I’m so proud that I got to step out on the mat and compete with her,” Gray said. “I wanted to come out on top, but she did it this time. But I’m sure it will just be a friendship that blossoms even more. Maybe not before the world championships this year. So I hope to see her there.
Chinese Qian Zhou and Turkish Yasemin Adar won bronze medals.
Cuban Mijain Lopez became the first man to win four Olympic gold medals in wrestling, beating Georgian Iakobi Kajaia 5-0 in the Greco-Roman 130kg final.
The 38-year-old hasn’t scored in all four of his appearances. He joins Japan’s Kaori Icho as the only wrestler to win four Olympic gold medals. Icho won gold medals in freestyle in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Lopez won gold at 120 kg in 2008 and 2012 and 130 kg in 2016 before his victory on Monday.
Lopez beat Turkey’s Riza Kayaalp 2-0 in the semifinals on Sunday in a rematch of the 2016 gold medal match.
Kayaalp won bronze against Iranian Amin Mirzazadeh 7-2. Sergey Semenov of the Russian Olympic Committee won the other bronze by beating Chilean Yamani Acosta Fernandez.
In Monday’s other final, Cuban Luis Orta Sanchez beat Japanese Kenichiro Fumita 5-1 in the 60 kg category. Fumita, trying to win in his home country, was the No.1 seed and two-time world champion.
Tamyra Mensah-Stock of the United States, No. 1 seed in the 68 kg freestyle category, will fight for gold on Tuesday. She was tied at 4 points before the final two minutes of a semi-final against Ukraine’s Alla Cherkasova on Monday before taking control to win 10-4. Mensah-Stock will face Nigerian Blessing Oborududu in the final.
In their opener on Monday, Mensah-Stock faced Japan’s Sara Dosho, who won gold in Rio at 69 kg. Mensah-Stock dominated, winning by technical superiority 10-0 at 2:07. In her quarter-final against China’s Feng Zhao, she led 6-0 at the break and finally won 10-0 by technical superiority at 4:39.
American Ildar Hafizov was looking for a place in the bronze medal match in the Greco-Roman 60kg category. He led No. 2 seed Sergey Emelin of the Russian Olympic Committee 1-0 after the first period but was overwhelmed in the second and lost 7-1. Emelin won a bronze medal.
In 97 kg Greco-Roman, American G’Angelo Hancock beat Serbian Mihail Kajaia 5-1 in his first match. In his quarter-final against Poland’s Tadeusz Michalik, with a score equal to 1, Michalik got one point from a withdrawal. The United States contested and lost, giving Michalik another point. Michalik held on and won 4-3.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.
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