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

Mijain Lopez

Cuba’s Mijain Lopez Nunez celebrates his gold medal win against Georgia’s Iakobi Kajaia in their men’s greco-roman 130kg wrestling final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

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.

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