Henry Cejudo Assures US a spot At 121 Pounds In Beijing

By: AP
By: AP

Henry Cejudo earned an Olympic berth for the United States in the 121-pound freestyle division Sunday in the Pan American Wrestling Championships.

Cejudo pinned Cuba's Andy Gonzales in the second round of their title match after reaching the final to assure the United States the Olympic slot. Because Cuba had already qualified for the Olympics in the division, the silver medalist in the Pan American event was guaranteed an Olympic berth.

Cejudo beat John Pineda of Canada on a 2-1, 2-2 decision in the quarterfinals, and Vinicius Pedrosa of Brazil in the semifinals.

''It feels good,'' said Cejudo, who lives and trains in Colorado Springs. ''The pressure's somewhat off, knowing I'm finally ready to go to the Olympics.''

Cejudo, however, is not yet assured a trip to Beijing. Olympic qualifying events give berths to countries, not individual wrestlers. Cejudo and others still must qualify at the U.S. trials on June 13-15 in Las Vegas.

''I think about the Olympics every day,'' said Cejudo, who lives and trains in Colorado Springs. ''I'm ready. I'm ready to go, I'm healthy and I'm feeling good.''

Mike Zadick did not fare as well in his quest to qualify at 132 pounds, the only other men's freestyle slot where the United States has not yet qualified.

Zadick, a silver medalist at the 2007 Pan American Games and 2006 worlds, lost a controversial 1-0, 2-2, 1-0 decision to Guivi Sissauori of Canada in the quarters. The Canadian, a silver medalist at the 1996 Olympics, was awarded a decisive one-point penalty after Zadick had been warned for improper position in the third-period clinch. The bout had been tied at 0-0 at that point, and Zadick still would have had 30 seconds to score a winning point had the clinch occurred.

Zadick settled for a bronze medal, defeating Maykel Gonzalez of Cuba 1-3, 6-3, 2-0.

Joe Williams, (185 pounds) and Tommy Rowlands (264.5) also won gold medals in weight classes where the U.S. already has Olympic-qualified. Casey Cunningham, (163), and Damion Hahn (211.5) won silver medals for the U.S.

Chris Bono took a bronze for the U.S. at 145.5 pounds.

Williams defeated Jarlis Mosquera of Colombia, 1-1, 6-0 on the strength of an overpowering second period.

''My plan was to just wrestle hard the entire time,'' Williams said. ''After that first period, I knew I couldn't go down that road again, so I came out more aggressive, with more attacks.

''Any time you can get a win it's good, but this is just a stepping stone to bigger things.''

Rowlands defeated Antoine Jaoude of Brazil, 2-0, 4-0.

''It feels great,'' Rowlands said. ''With the Olympic trials coming up, I'm ready to go back to training and step it up a notch.''

Cuba also had three gold medalists: Geandry Garzon, Ivan Fundora and Michel Batista.

The U.S. was first in team scoring with 64 points. Cuba was second with 59, and Canada had 49.

The U.S. had qualified 12 of a possible 18 weight-class entries for Beijing before the tournament, tops among the Pan Am field.

Earlier, Justin Ruiz qualified for the 211.5-pound class in Greco-Roman, but the U.S. failed in bids at 132 pounds and 163. The U.S. also was unsuccessful at 121 pounds in women's freestyle, the only unfilled Olympic slot in that division.


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