Puerto Rico: Jaime Espinal's Silver Medal Makes History

This post is part of our special coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.  

On 11 August 2012 Jaime Yusept Espinal became the second medallist for Puerto Rico in the London 2012 Olympic Games, after Javier Culson's bronze medal. Espinal, born in the Dominican Republic, won his historic silver medal in the final of the 84 kilo division freestyle wrestling.   He wrestled against Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan who then went on to win the gold medal.  There was a tie for third place and the bronze medal between Dato Mrsagishvili of Georgia and Ehsan Lashgari of Iran.

It is the first time that Puerto Rico has reached a final in wrestling and the first time that they have won an Olympic medal in this sport.  This medal is also the second Olympic medal that the country has won in a sport that is not boxing.  Puerto Rico now has six bronze medals (five in boxing and one in athletics) and two silver (one in boxing and one in wrestling) making a total of eight Olympic medals.

The euphoria was clear on Twitter since early in the morning.  The hashtag #JaimeEspinal became a trending topic on a global scale as soon as it was known that Puerto Rico were guaranteed a silver medal and that there was a possibility for a gold medal.  Once the result of the final was known, Jaime Espinal again became a trending topic.

Emotions were running high with Twitter users celebrating Puerto Rico's silver medal in the freestyle wrestling event:

@myma27: Y nos quedamos con la #Plata con la misma emoción y orgullo. #JaimeEspinal eres otro #OrgulloBoricua! GRACIAS por esta medalla! #PUR :’)) <3

@myma27: So we have the #Plata (silver) with the same excitement and pride. #JaimeEspinal You are something else! #OrgulloBoricua (Puerto Rico Pride). THANK YOU for this medal! #PUR :’)) <3

@belenguis#JaimeEspinal gracias por esa de plata

@belenguis#JaimeEspinal thank you for this silver

@‏20_dariana: Una medalla de plata no es nada facil de lograr #OrgulloBoricua#JaimeEspinal!

@‏20_dariana: A silver medal is not an easy thing to win#OrgulloBoricua#JaimeEspinal!

@jrvesco#JaimeEspinal: gracias por la medalla!!! Pusiste a Puerto Rico en alto!

@jrvesco#JaimeEspinal: thank you for the medal!!! You have put Puerto Rico on the map!

@xero94: Excelente combate de #JaimeEspinal ORGULLO BORICUA Y DEL CARIBE! #Plata

@xero94: excellent final from #JaimeEspinal PUERTO RICAN AND CARIBBEAN PRIDE! #Plata(Silver)

@PedVidSa: Fue de Plata pero para todo Puerto Rico fue de ORO Felicidades a #JaimeEspinal En hora buena…

@PedVidSa: It was silver but for everyone in Puerto Rico it was GOLD congratulations go to #JaimeEspinal Well done…

@JLebronMillan: Por poco se me Sale el Corazón! #JaimeEspinal medalla de plata que vale como ORO! Felicitaciones!!!

@JLebronMillan: My heart is in my mouth! #JaimeEspinal the silver medal is the same as GOLD! Congratulations!!!

Franklin Gómez

The wrestler Franklin Gómez was eliminated after fighting for the bronze medal in the 60 kilo event against Yogeshwawa Dutt of India. Gómez had a good chance of winning a medal, but these hopes were dashed after he contracted the flu which meant that he almost did not make it for his first fight against the Russian Besik Kudukhov.

Although he felt weaker than usual, the fighters were leveled after the first period. However, Kudukhov won the next two rounds in the close fight.  When Kudukhov reached the final, it was known that Gómez still had the chance to compete for the bronze medal against Dutt.

The first two rounds saw the fighters drawing 0-0, which meant that the fight would go on to a draw to see who would have the advantage of having the first attacking movement with the other not being able to defend.  In both occasions Dutt won the draw and was overall the victor.

Whatever the result of the final fight, Gómez was always one of the favourites to win a medal and he was always at the height of his game and gave everything – even with the flu.  Jaime Espinal and Franklin Gómez are the first to compete for Puerto Rico in Olympic wrestling after three consecutive Olympic games without fielding a competitor in the freestyle wrestling event.

This post is part of our special coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.  

*Cover photograph by Quique Aparicio, courtesy of the  Olympic Committee of Puerto Rico.

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