'American dream'

Cejudo takes home gold medal for U.S. in freestyle wrestling

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Beijing 2008

August 20, 2008|By Tribune Olympic Bureau

BEIJING - Henry Cejudo called it the American dream.

The son of undocumented Mexican immigrants who had to work two jobs to keep food on the table, Cejudo gave the United States an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling yesterday with a stunning win over Japan's Tomohiro Matsunaga in the 55-kilogram (121 pounds) final.

"I'm living the American dream right now, man," Cejudo, wrapped in an American flag, said moments after his win. "The United States is the land of opportunity. It's the best country in the world, and I'm just glad to represent it."

A joyful Cejudo, 21, broke into tears on the mat at the end of the match, then took a victory lap around the China Agricultural University Gymnasium.

"This is what I always wanted," he said. "The frustration was let out. The hard work and everything.

"I set my goal, I trained hard. I had a good staff around me. I just put the pieces together, and I really believed in myself."

Cejudo, who had to come from behind to win the U.S. Olympic trials, also trailed in all three of his preliminary matches here, but he never trailed in the final. Although he and Matsunaga were tied 2-2 after the first period, Cejudo was declared the winner because he had the highest-scoring move, a two-point takedown. Cejudo then jumped to a 3-0 lead early in the second period to clinch the match.

"This is cool. Coming out of a Mexican-American background, it feels good to represent the U.S.," said Cejudo, who was born in Los Angeles. "Not too many Mexicans get the chance to do that."

* Baseball: The U.S. beat Taiwan, 4-2, yesterday. The U.S. plays Japan today, then begins the semifinals Friday. Canada shut out the Netherlands, 4-0; South Korea beat Cuba, 7-4; and Japan crushed China, 10-0.

* Basketball: Sylvia Fowles scored 26 points as the U.S. women's team beat South Korea, 104-60. The U.S. will play Russia, an 84-65 winner over Spain, in tomorrow's semifinals.

* Beach volleyball: As expected, the top two seeded teams will meet in the women's final. Americans Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor beat Renata Ribeiro and Talita Rocha of Brazil. China's Tian Jia and Wang Jie beat countrywomen Xue Chen and Zhang. Reigning world champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser beat Georgia to set up a gold-medal match with Brazil.

* Cycling: In the men's sprint finals, Britain got gold and silver medals with Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny. Mickael Bourgain of France took the bronze. In the women's sprint, Victoria Pendleton of Britain was first, followed by Anna Meares of Australia and Guo Shuang of China. In the men's Madison, Argentina won gold, Spain silver and Russia bronze.

* Diving: China's He Chong won gold on the 3-meter springboard, beating Alexandre Despatie of Canada. China's Qin Kai picked up the bronze.

* Equestrian: In the individual dressage grand prix freestyle final. Steffen Peters of the U.S. was edged for the bronze by Heike Kemmer of Germany. The gold went to Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands. Isabell Werth of Germany got the silver.

* Sailing: Anna Tunnicliffe of the United States won the overall title and a gold medal in Laser Radial class. Gintare Volungeviciute of Lithuania got the silver, and Xu Lijia of China got bronze. Paul Goodison of Britain won the gold in the Laser class, followed by Vasilij Zbogar of Slovenia and Diego Romero of Italy.

* Soccer: Nigeria beat Belgium, 4-1, to advance to the men's final. In the other semifinal, Argentina shut out Brazil, 3-0.

* Softball: Crystl Bustos hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning as the U.S. beat Japan, 4-1. The Americans will play for their fourth straight gold medal.

* Track and field: Dawn Harper won gold in the women's 100-meter hurdles when U.S. teammate Lolo Jones, who was leading, clipped the next-to-last hurdle, dropping her to seventh. Sally McLellan of Australia won silver, and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada took the bronze. U.S. favorite Sanya Richardson finished third in the women's 400, after Christine Ohuruogu of Britain and Shericka Williams of Jamaica. In men's competition, golds were awarded to Gerd Kanter of Estonia in the discus, Andrey Silnov of Russia in the high jump and Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain in the 1,500.

* Triathlon: Jan Frodeno of Germany won the men's race by five seconds. Simon Whitfield of Canada won silver and Bevan Docherty of New Zealand earned the bronze.

* Volleyball: The U.S. women's team played an emotional match against Italy, winning in five sets. In tomorrow's semifinals, the U.S. will play undefeated Cuba, which beat Serbia, 3-0. In other quarterfinal matches, China beat Russia, 3-0, and Brazil stopped Japan, 3-0.

* Water polo: The U.S. women's team made it to the gold-medal match with a 9-8 win over Australia in the semifinals. Brenda Villa scored the winning goal with a minute left.

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