American Lopez Wins Taekwondo Gold
By Christopher Caile
Sept. 27, 2000- Thursday, Steve Lopez of Sugarland,
Texas outscored South Korea's Sin Joon-Sik to win
the United States' first gold medal in men's under-68
kg (150 lbs.) taekwondo weight class.
Lopez will go down in history as being the first
American to win a gold medal in taekwondo in the Olympics,
the 2000 Olympics being the first time the sport was
an official part of the Olympics. Almost unbelievably,
during Olympic competition Lopez had only one point
scored against him during his competition.
Lopez had earlier captured a 2-0 victory in the semi-final
match over Germany's Aziz Acharki, but it came at
a price. He dislocated his left pinky finger. The
win was especially gratifying for Lopez because Acharki
had beaten him in a former matchup -- the quarterfinal
of the 1999 Olympic qualifying tournament in Croatia.
In a close call, Lopez won an earlier second round
against Australia's Carlo Massimino by a referee's
decision after a 1-1 tie . Massimino scored with a
kick early in the match. "But, I didn't get excited,
or try to rush in and score a point," Lopez said.
"That way you often get scored upon." Lopez
took his time and evened up the contest.
Lopez in his first round scored a decisive 7-0 victory
over Italy's Claudio Nolano, scoring 4 of his 7 points
in the first round. Nolano did score one point in
the first round, but it was negated when with a one
point penalty given in the third round.
Lopez's father in the audience cheering him on. His
mother was absent, he said, "because she is so
nervous she would have a heart attack. After all this
is a contact sport," he added, but "I called
her right after my win."
Lopez credits his father for giving him a great deal
of strength and support and noted that "the sacrifices
he made for me and the family made me push a lot harder.
We worked together, it was a committed effort of both
of us to make it happen."
Lopez's father was so proud, Lopez noted, that he
will probably dedicate a whole room of the house to
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