USA Wrestling Numerous internation...

Numerous international medalists expected at Pan American Championships in Colorado Springs Feb 29 March 2

By Elizabeth Wiley | Feb. 27, 2008, 11:21 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - When competition at the 2008 Pan American Wrestling Championships kicks off on February 29 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, some of the world's top competitors will take to the mat. This includes athletes who have won Olympic and World medals, as well as those who have won at previous Pan American Games and Championships.

Among the athletes expected in the field are six past Olympic medalists.

In men's freestyle, 1996 Olympic silver medalist Giuvi Sissaouri of Canada will compete at 60 kg/132 lbs. and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Ivan Fundora of Cuba will compete at 74 kg/163 lbs., 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Alexis Rodriguez of Cuba will compete at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

In women's freestyle wrestling, 2004 Olympic silver medalist Tonya Verbeek of Canada will wrestle at 55 kg/121 lbs. and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda of the United States will enter at 51 kg/112.25 lbs.

In men's Greco-Roman, 2004 Olympic silver medalist Roberto Monzon of Cuba will enter at 60 kg/132 lbs.

This year, the competition holds special significance, as a qualifying event for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. There will be 18 spots in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics up for grabs during the three-day competition.

In all three styles, the top athlete in each weight class from a nation which has not already qualified for the Olympics will qualify that nation to compete in the Beijing Games. Only nations that competed at the 2007 World Championships in each weight class are eligible to qualify through the Pan American Championships.

A 2005 and 2007 World champion, Mijial Lopez of Cuba, will wrestle at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. in men's Greco-Roman. Lopez also won a World silver medal in 2006.

2001 World freestyle champion Giuvi Sissaouri of Canada will compete at 60 kg/132 lbs. Also in men's freestyle, 1998 World champion Alexis Rodriguez of Cuba will compete at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Rodriguez has also been a four-time World silver medalist and a World bronze medalist. Sissaouri has also won a World silver medal and two World bronze medals.

Other past World medalists in the field include:

Men's Freestyle
- Geandry Garzon of Cuba, 2007 World silver medalist, 2005 and 2006 World bronze medalist at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.
- Andy Moreno of Cuba, 2007 World bronze medalist at 55 kg/121 lbs.
- Joe Williams, Belvidere, Ill. (Sunkist Kids), 2001 and 2005 World bronze medalist at 84 kg/185 lbs.
- Mike Zadick, Solon, Iowa (Gator WC), 2006 World silver medalist at 60 kg/132 lbs.

Men's Greco-Roman
- Michel Batista of Cuba, 2006 World bronze medalist at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.
- Alain Milian of Cuba, 2005 World bronze medalist at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.
- Roberto Monzon of Cuba, 2003 World silver medalist, 2001 and 2002 World bronze medalist at 60 kg/132 lbs.
- Justin Ruiz, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), 2005 World bronze medalist at 96 kg/211.5 lbs

Women's Freestyle
- Mayelis Caripa Castillo of Venezuela, 2007 World bronze medalist at 48 kg/105.5 lbs.
- Martine Dugrenier of Canada, three-time World silver medalist (2005-07) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
- Mabel Fonseca of Puerto Rico, 2002 World bronze medalist at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
- Patricia Miranda, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) 2000 and 2003 World silver medalist and 2006 World bronze medalist at 51 kg/112 lbs.
- Erica Sharp of Canada, 1999 World silver medalist and 2007 World bronze medalist at 51 kg/112.25 lbs.
- Tonya Verbeek of Canada, 2005 World bronze medalist at 55 kg/121 lbs.

A total of 40 medalists from the 2007 Pan American Games will also be on display. The Pan American Games is a major multi-sport event held every four years, which differs from the annual Pan American Championships event.

Greco-Roman champions from the 2007 Pan American Games competing this week include: Yagnier Hernandez of Cuba (55 kg), Roberto Monzon of Cuba (60 kg), Herrero Odelis of Cuba (74 kg), Justin Ruiz of the United States (96 kg) and Mijail Lopez of Cuba (120 kg).

Freestyle champions from the 2007 Pan American Games who will wrestle in Colorado Springs include: Henry Cejudo of the United States (55 kg), Geandry Garzon of Cuba (66 kg), Ivan Fundora of Cuba (74 kg), Michel Batista of Cuba (96 kg) and Alexis Rodriguez of Cuba (120 kg).

The last time the United States hosted the Pan American Wrestling Championships was 1990, when the event was also held at U.S. Olympic Training Center. Other years when the event was hosted in Colorado Springs were 1986 and 1989.

Adult all-session tickets for the three-day event are $20 apiece. Adult tickets are $15 per day. Adult tickets for preliminary sessions are $10 and for medals and finals matches only are $15 each. Cost of tickets for high school students (with I.D.) and senior citizens (62 and over) is $10 per day. Youth (5-14 years old) tickets are $9 per day.

PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE

Thursday, Feb. 28

4:15 - Weigh-ins: Greco-Roman
Friday, Feb. 29
9 a.m- - Elimination and Repechage Rounds: Greco-Roman
4:15 - Weigh-ins: Women's Freestyle
5:00 p.m. - Opening ceremony
5:30 p.m. - Finals, Award Ceremonies: Greco-Roman
Saturday, March 1
9 a.m. - Elimination and Repechage Rounds: Women's Freestyle
4:15 - Weigh-ins: Men's Freestyle
5:30 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. -Finals, Award Ceremonies: Women's Freestyle
Sunday, March 2
9 a.m - Elimination and Repechage Rounds: Men's Freestyle
5:30 p.m.- Finals, Award Ceremonies: Men's Freestyle