SANTA MARTA, Colombia (July 19) -- The excitement of Beach Wrestling is catching up across continents. After the success of the Beach Wrestling World Series and African Beach Games, the South American Beach Games got the first glimpse of Beach Wrestling.
The Games saw Beach Wrestling contest in eight weight classes -- four in men's and four in women's. The competition was held on July 15 and 16 for the eight weight categories over two days.
A round-robin system was followed for the competitions with the wrestlers in each weight class distributed in two different groups. The top two wrestlers of the group qualified for the semifinal which was played in a cross format with the topper of Group A wrestled runner-up of Group B and vice versa.
In women's 50kg, Yusneiry AGRAZAL (PAN) finished first while Caroline MELO (BRA) was second from Group A. Naiyeliz RIVAS (VEN) topped Group B with Alisson CARDOZO (COL) finished second.
Cardozo managed to beat Agrazal 3-1 in the semifinal while Rivas won 2-0 against Melo and set up a final against Cardozo. Rivas had won their group bout via technical superiority and it was no different in the final as Rivas claimed the gold medal by winning 4-0 against Cardozo.
Venezuela won second gold as Rio Olympian Betzabeth ARGUELLO (VEN) defeated Camila AMARILLA (ARG), 1-0, in a close 60kg gold medal bout. This was after Arguello won her semifinal against Veralucia SUSANO (BOL) 4-0.
Amarilla was involved in a thriller against Andrea YURANI (COL) in the other semifinal and managed to sneak a 3-2 win. Yurani won the bronze medal over Susano.
The third gold for Venezuela was won by Astrid MONTERO (VEN), who has been a regular at Beach Wrestling World Series. She won the round-robin format at 70kg as only four wrestlers entered in the weight category.
Montero was unscored upon in her three bouts, winning 2-0 against Leonela AYOVI (ECU), 3-0 against Chaneth SIMMONDS (PAN) and 3-0 against Nicoll OSORIO (COL). Ayovi finished second to win silver while Osorio won the bronze medal.
Winner of the Central American Caribbean Beach Games last year and U23 world champion Tatiana RENTERIA (COL) was the only non-Venezuela wrestler to win a gold medal in the women's competition.
Renteria, in a round-robin format, won the gold in the +70kg weight class by winning all three of her bouts via technical superiority.
Mari ACOSTA (VEN) finished second to win the silver medal while Linda MARILINA (ARG) won the bronze medal.
Venezuela may have denied a cleansweep in women's but the nation won four out of four gold medals in the men's competition.
The gold rush began with Wilfredo Wilfredo RODRIGUEZ (VEN) winning the 70kg weight class over Julian HORTA (COL). In his five bouts to win the gold medal, Rodriguez did not give up a single point, including technical superiority wins against Mathues DA LUZ (BRA) and Horta in the semifinal and final respectively.
Steven RODRIGUEZ (VEN) got his act together when it mattered most to clinch the gold medal at 80kg. He lost a group bout against Pool AMBROCIO (PER) to finish second in Group B. He faced Lautaro SEGHESSO (ARG) in the semifinal and managed to win 3-2. Jair CUERO (COL) won the other semifinal against Ambrocio 3-0 to enter the final against Rodriguez.
Cuero did score a point on Rodriguez but failed to stop him from winning the gold medal 3-1 in the weight class.
At 90kg, Pedro CEBALLOS (VEN) added the third gold medal after he defeated Carlos JARAMILLO (COL) in the final, his second win over the Colombian after beating him in the group stages.
Ceballos defetaed Claudio MATUES (BRA) in the semifinal while Jaramillo won over Jorge LLANO (ARG) in the other semifinal.
In the +90kg weight calss, Jose ROBERTTI (VEN) dominated his final against Carlos MURILLO (COL), winning 3-0 and the gold medal, a surprising result since the two had a close 3-2 bout in the group stages.
Robertti topped his group to qualify for the semifinals while Murillo was second in the other group. In the semifinals, Robertti beat Kempton APARICIO (PAN) 3-0 while Murillo managed to beat Vicente HUACON (ECU) in the other semifinal 3-2.