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12 Jul 2011
IOC News , London 2012 , London 2012 News

Pursuit of Perfection: Mijaín López

The 28-year-old Cuban wrestler hopes to retain his Olympic title in London next year

How is your training for London 2012 going?

It’s progressing well; all according to plan. I have no injuries and I hope to qualify for the Olympic Games at the 2011 World Championships in Turkey, where the top six will go through to the Games. Another important competition for me will be the Pan American Games in October in Guadalajara, Mexico.

What do you most hope for in the 2012 Games?

My goal is to win a second Olympic gold medal. That feat has only ever been achieved by one other Cuban: Filiberto Azcuy, who won the gold medal in wrestling in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000.

Who do you think will be your main rivals for the gold medal in London?

Everyone who qualifies to compete in the Olympics should be taken seriously as a rival.

How did you get started in the sport?

My brothers, Misael and Michel, fell in love with boxing and Michel won a bronze medal in Athens in 2004. But I didn’t fancy the ring and from the age of 10 I trained in wrestling at a small school in my native province of Pinar del Río. Then I went to the nearest School for Initiation into Sport (EIDE) and later the national headquarters for Athletic Perfection (ESPA), still in the youth category. I’ve been part of the senior national team for 10 years.

Who were your Olympic heroes when you were growing up?

Héctor Milián, who was also born in the province of Pinar del Río and won an Olympic gold medal in Barcelona in 1992. Also, double gold medallist Filiberto Azcuy, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame by FILA. In other sports, I admired Omar Linares and Victor Mesa, both Cuban baseball stars.

What are your own Olympic memories?

I’ll never forget my semi-final bout in Beijing against an Armenian wrestler. Everyone thought that I was losing, but in the end I won and was able to go on to fight for the gold medal. I also remember the final like it was yesterday. It brought so much joy as it was the second Olympic gold medal for Cuba in 2008, after Dayron Robles had won the 110m hurdles in athletics.

How do you relax outside your sport, what are your hobbies?

When I'm away from training and competitions I like to listen to music – anything at all as long as it’s Cuban. What brings me the most pleasure is just being at home with my parents, my brothers and my wife, the fencer Maylin González. We’ll soon have another addition to our family of athletes as she’s expecting our first child.

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