Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB) could not have asked for a better return to Greco-Roman after trying his hand at freestyle for the last three years.
In 2019, he won the silver medal at the World Championships at 130kg but has since wrestled freestyle. Despite qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, he had to vacate the 130kg spot for the four-time Olympic champion Mijain LOPEZ (CUB).
But as the new Olympic cycle begins, Pino is expected to remain at 130kg and lead Cuba’s charge. He took the first steps in that direction by winning the Pan-Am gold in Acapulco, Mexico.
Outscoring his opponents 29-2 on Thursday, Pino won his fourth Pan-Am title and the first since 2018 to remain undefeated in the four editions of the competition.
A relieved Pino said he was happy to be back to his natural Greco-Roman style after trying and winning the gold only made the return sweeter.
“I am very happy,” Pino said. “For 2-3 years [four] I didn’t wrestle in Pan Am as last time was in Peru. But I am back to Greco-Roman and I feel good. I also became the champion on return so very good.”
Meanwhile, the USA crowned four champions on the opening day of the competition taking a giant leap in defending the team title they won last year. Colombia and Honduras had a champion each. The remaining three gold medals will be decided Friday.
In his run to the final, Pino had to encounter a familiar opponent on the mat in Yasmani ACOSTA FERNANDEZ (CHI) in the quarterfinal which more or less decided Pino’s position in the tournament.
Acosta, who finished fifth at the Olympics, was Cuba’s second choice at 130kg and had won Pan-Am titles whenever Lopez decided to sit out. He later moved to Chile in 2016.
The two traded passivity points in either half but it was Pino’s two points from par terre that made the difference in the 3-1 win.
“The match against Yasmani was the one I had to prepare more,” he said. “In this competition, I had opponents from USA, Yasmani and Peru before the final and I knew to be the champion I need to have a strong gut.”
He used that effectively in the final against another Tokyo Olympian Eduard SOGHOMONYAN (BRA), scoring six points from that technique in a 9-1 win to claim the gold. The final was a rematch from the 2016 Pan-Am gold-medal bout which Pino had won easily, claiming his first continental title.
Source and image: www.uww.org