Steven Lopez of US loses in Olympic taekwondo
LONDON (AP) -- There will be no taekwondo gold for the Lopez family at the London Olympics.
And for the first time since the Korean martial art became a full medal sport at the games, there might not be any medal at all -- hardly the result the longtime flag bearers for the sport in the United States came to the Olympics expecting.
Two-time Olympic champion Steven Lopez of the U.S. lost his first-round match in London on Friday, beaten 3-2 by Ramin Azizov of Azerbaijan, the No. 1 seed in the men's under-80-kilogram tournament. Lopez could still make the medal round, depending on how Azizov advances through the bracket.
But the best he can hope for now is bronze, which is what he left the Beijing Games with as well.
Neither Lopez or his coach and older brother, Jean Lopez, were immediately available for comment after the fight. USA Taekwondo said they may speak later Friday.
The Lopez family has won five medals at the Olympics -- gold for Steven in 2000 and 2004, a silver for Mark Lopez at Beijing in 2008, and bronzes for Steven and Diana four years ago as well.
That streak could end in London. It has been a difficult two days for the Lopezes, with injury issues compounding the losses.
Steven Lopez's first-round loss comes a day after his sister, Diana Lopez, lost a first-round bout in the women's under-57-kilogram bracket to eventual silver medalist Hou Yuzhuo of China. USA Taekwondo spokesman Bill Kellick said Diana Lopez felt a "pop" in her left knee during a repechage-round fight Thursday night, when she lost to fall from medal contention.
Kellick said Diana Lopez, whose Olympics are over, may need an MRI. And earlier this week, Steven Lopez was not at an open U.S. team training session because of what was described as a minor ankle injury.
He took a 1-0 lead over Azizov after the first 2-minute period, then gave up two points in the final moments of the second and did not lead again. Azizov extended the lead to 3-1 early in the third, then held on from there.
Steven Lopez, like his sister, was unseeded at the London Games, which meant he had a tougher-than-expected first round opponent. The draw for the Olympics was based in large part on the world rankings, and the Lopez family tends not to participate in many international events -- the ones that play the biggest role in the ranking system.
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