Taekwondo

Mar 07 Mark Lopez makes taekwondo final; Diana loses

Aug. 21, 2008, 6:40 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Mark Lopez of the United States will advance to the finals of the men's 68-kilogram taekwondo competition, but his sister, Diana, lost her quarterfinal bout Thursday and is out of gold range.

Lopez - who is competing here with Diana and his brother Steven - took the early lead in his opener against Afghanistan's Nesar Ahmad Bahave, the 2007 world silver medalist.

He scored as the first round ran out in his quarterfinal against Germany's Daniel Manz, but then got a scare when Manz kicked him in the head. Lopez came back seconds later, and Manz lost a point for a penalty. Lopez added another in the third to win 3-1.

The semifinal was an all-Lopez affair, as Mark paired off with Peter Lopez, who used to fight for the United States but has duel nationality and now represents Peru. Though not related, the two train together in Texas.

The American nailed a kick to his opponent's side then knocked him to the ground with a punch that landed high. Face-punches are illegal in taekwondo and he received a warning. He went into the third round 2-1 and put in one more to make it 3-1.

South Korea's Son Tae-jin, who beat Lopez in the quarters of the 2007 World Olympic qualifier, narrowly defeated Turkey's Servet Tazegul to earn his semifinal slot against Sung Yu-chi of Taiwan. In a furious kicking match, Son won that bout 7-6.

A favorite going into the women's 57-kilogram class, Diana Lopez fell behind Azize Tanrikulu of Turkey, who hit her with a roundhouse kick to the chest. Tanrikulu, who also has a brother, Bahri, in the competition, had the point deducted on a penalty in the second round, bringing them scoreless into the third.

They traded points at the outset and neither was able to score again until Tanrikulu hit the winning kick after 34 seconds of overtime.

"I should have pressed her harder in the first round," Diana Lopez said.

Tanrikulu came from behind in the third round against Croatia's Martina Zubcic to make it to the final.

South Korea's entry, Lim Su-jeong, cruised through the preliminaries and scored three times in the final round of her quarterfinal to make the semis against Italy's Veronica Calabrese, the winner of the 2008 university championships.

Lim scored quickly with a back kick that floored Calabrese and picked up another three points in the second round. She won the match 5-1.

Though the Koreans are perennial favorites for gold, the Lopezes have stolen some of the spotlight.

They are the first three siblings to compete for the United States in the same Olympics since the gymnast Tritschler brothers, who competed in St. Louis in 1904 but failed to medal.

Counting coach Jean, their eldest brother, they are the first four siblings to participate together in Olympic history, according to the World Taekwondo Federation.

In 2005, they became the first three siblings to win world championships in the same sport in the same year.

Steven, who hasn't lost a bout since 2002, defends his title from Athens on Friday. He also won gold in Sydney, but in a lighter weight class.

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