After an arduous week and half of hard fought competition in Rio, American wrestler J’Den Cox earned a bronze medal in the Olympics on Saturday, though it came in perhaps one of the oddest endings yet in this international competition.
Matched up against Reineris Salas Perez of Cuba in the 86kg weight class, Cox was holding his own. Both were, for the most part, evenly matched, with Cox winning a point after Perez failed to get a takedown within 30 seconds after he was put on a shot clock for being too passive. Soon after that, Cox was put on a shot clock and appeared to get the takedown he needed. But the referee ruled a point for Salas Perez instead, leading Cox’s coach, Bill Zadick to challenge. The ref overturned the call, giving Cox two points and the lead. It was here that chaos ensued.
Upset with the results of the challenge, Salas Perez’s coach attempted to protest the points but was unsuccessful. With only six seconds left in the match and Cox leading, Salas Perez refused to return to the mat, even at the behest of his coach. Because of his refusal to return to the match, Cox was declared the winner by disqualification.
Salas has been disqualified from the bronze medal match and will not shake Cox's hand #Wrestling
— USA Wrestling (@USAWrestling) August 20, 2016
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 20, 2016
It is certainly odd that, given the work Olympic athletes put in to represent their countries, that someone would just drop out of the competition the way that Salas Perez did, especially with a medal on the line. While Cox may have liked to have finished his match to the end, he at least gets to take a bronze medal back home to the states. He will also bring some pride and prestige back to the University of Missouri, where he is set to begin his senior year in the fall.