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Lopez denied chance at 3rd gold, settles for bronze

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - Steven Lopez fought his bronze medal match without knowing if an appeal concerning his quarterfinal loss had been accepted.

He fought and won the bronze, beating Rashad Ahmadov of Azerbaijan 3-2 to end a disappointing day for the two-time Olympic gold medalist in taekwondo.

Lopez -- after winning a tough first-round bout against Turkey's Bahri Tanrikulu that he said "should have been the final" -- was defeated in the quarterfinals by Italy's Mauro Sarmiento.

Sarmiento won the bout in a sudden-death extra period after a controversial call in the third period led to Lopez being deducted a point for an illegal move.

"Steven is not the only athlete who practices this technique (the cut kick), but Steven is the only one who does it well," said U.S. coach Herb Perez. "He has developed it. It is not a leg kick."

A protest was filed to the Competition Supervisory Board, but it was not accepted.

U.S. coach Herb Perez said he was made to sign a document promising not to protest during the Olympics, but he went ahead with the action anyway on Friday.

"There is a chance that I will be sanctioned, but I'm not concerned about myself," said Perez. "I am concerned about the athletes of today and those that will come after today so this won't happen again."

Lopez, who won gold medals in 2000 and 2004, said he was in disbelief over the point deduction in his quarterfinal match. He considered not returning to fight in a repechage match against N'guessan Sebatien Konan of Ivory Coast, which Lopez won to make the bronze medal round.

"If I hadn't (returned) it would have been because of pride. That would not have been good to a certain extent," said Lopez. "I have trained long and hard and I am happy to be here with my family.

"In hindsight, I believe people back home deserve a medal. I needed to think about the U.S."

Lopez's bronze followed a silver won by younger brother Mark in the men's 68 kg class and a bronze claimed by sister Diana, the youngest sibling, in the women's 57 kg division. The other Lopezes won their medals Thursday.

They were the first trio of siblings to compete in the same Olympics since 1904. A third brother, Jean, is their coach.

"The Lopezes are the best thing that's happened to the sport. Everyone looks at us," said Steven Lopez. "Three siblings competing at an Olympic level and a brother as a coach has never happened for 104 years. We have put the spotlight on taekwondo."

Hadi Saei of Iran won the gold medal in the 80 kg division, beating Sarmiento in the final. Sarmiento won the silver. China's Zhu Guo also claimed a bronze alongside Lopez.

Also on Friday, Korea's Hwang Kyungseon beat Canada's Karine Sergerie for gold in the women's 67 kg class. Gwladys Patience Epangue of France and Sandra Saric of Croatia shared the bronze.

08/22 09:24:49 ET

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