Jaime Espinal

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Jaime Espinal
Jaime Espinal Rio2016.jpg
Espinal at the 2016 Olympics
Personal information
Nationality Dominican
Puerto Rican
Born (1984-10-14) October 14, 1984 (age 32)[1]
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic[2][3]
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[4]
Weight 86 kg (190 lb)
Sport Wrestling
Event(s) Freestyle
Club Sparta[5]
Coached by Pedro Rojas[5]

Jaime Yusept Espinal Fajardo (born October 14, 1984) is a Dominican-born Puerto Rican freestyle wrestler. In 2012 he became the first Olympic medalist in wrestling for Puerto Rico by winning a silver medal in the 84 kg division.[5]

Early years and education[edit]

Espinal was born to Jaime Felix Espinal and Alejandrina Fajardo Hernández.[6] He has two siblings: Stanley and Rosemary.[7] When he was 5 years old, his family moved to Puerto Rico. Espinal studied at the Baptist College and then Gabriela Mistral High School. He began wrestling when he was nine years old when coach Pedro Rojas approached him and other kids and invited them to Club Sparta[8] in Río Piedras along with Franklin Gómez.[9][10]

When he was 15 years old, Espinal and his mother moved to Brooklyn, New York. Espinal says he had to deal with racism and fights "every two or three days". After someone drew a knife on him during a fight, he decided to return to Puerto Rico alone. Espinal quit wrestling and began cheerleading and dancing.[10] He received a scholarship in cheerleading from the University of Puerto Rico at Bayamón.[11] Espinal continued college at Walden University in Pennsylvania. He completed a Bachelor's degree in computer design.

Before his international wrestling career, Espinal spent three years as a breakdancer for the Time Machine Squad, entering the group after winning a contest.[11] In 2008, he went by the name of "Olimpic Jumps" as part of the group. During that time, he served as a backup dancer for hip hop artists like Daddy Yankee and Tego Calderón.[12] He also practiced baseball and worked as a model.[7] However, convinced by coach Rojas, Espinal returned to wrestling.[10]

Wrestling career[edit]

To prepare for the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, Rojas sent Espinal to train in Cuba for nine months.[10] As a result, Espinal won gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.[2]

In 2011, Espinal finished in fifth place[2] at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. That same year, he won silver at the Pan American Wrestling Qualifying Tournament in Florida.

The next year, Espinal continued to excel in the sport finishing third at the Romanian International Tournament, and winning gold at the Città di Sassari Wrestling Championship in Italy. That year, at the 2012 Panamerican Wrestling Tournament in Kissimmee, Florida, Espinal qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics.[6]

2012 Olympics[edit]

At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, Espinal began the first rounds by defeating Nigerian Andrew Dick and Georgian Dato Marsagishvili. On the semi-finals, he defeated Soslan Gattsiev, from Belarus, to advance to the final round against Sharif Sharifov, from Azerbaijan. In the match, Sharifov defeated Espinal 3-1 to earn the gold. Espinal finished with the silver medal.[3] His medal was Puerto Rico's second silver in 17 Summer Olympics, and their second medal as a country in London.[13] Espinal received a US$30,000 bonus from the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee for winning the silver medal.[14] Also, Puerto Rican dealership Bella International gave Espinal a 2012 Honda CR-V as a gift.[15]

2016 Olympics[edit]

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Espinal was defeated in the first round of the 86 kg division by Selim Yaşar of Turkey. He was then defeated in the repechage by Reineris Salas of Cuba.[4] Espinal was the flag bearer for Puerto Rico during the Parade of Nations.[16]


  1. ^ "Jaime Yusept Espinal". London 2012. 2012. Archived from the original on April 2, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Jaime Espinal, la lucha por abrir caminos al futuro de Puerto Rico". Terra (in Spanish). AFP. August 11, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "El luchador Jaime Espinal da una inédita e inesperada plata a Puerto Rico". Terra (in Spanish). AFP. August 11, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Jaime Yusept Espinal". Rio 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Jaime Yusept Espinal. nbcolympics.com
  6. ^ a b Sánchez Founier, José A. (August 11, 2012). "Jaime Espinal está demostrando su valor en Londres". Primera Hora (in Spanish). Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Rivas Reyes, Fernando (August 12, 2012). "Llena de orgullo la madre de Jaime Espinal tras su gesta olímpica". Primera Hora (in Spanish). Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  8. ^ Ayala, Hermes (August 12, 2012). "Londres '12: El luchador 'B-boy' que salió a buscar el oro". Noticel (in Spanish). Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  9. ^ Ribas, Fernando (August 12, 2012). "Llena de orgullo la madre de Jaime Espinal tras su gesta olímpica". Primera Hora. 
  10. ^ a b c d Pagán, Estéban (August 22, 2012). "Jaime Espinal: Una vida de lucha". El Nuevo Día. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Rosa Rosa, Carlos (August 13, 2012). "Jaime Espinal: "Nunca soñé que viviría un momento así"". Primera Hora (in Spanish). London, United Kingdom. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Antes de ser medallista olímpico era Olimpic Jumps". El Nuevo Día. August 11, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Histórica medalla de plata en lucha". El Vocero. August 11, 2012. 
  14. ^ Rosa Rosa, Carlos (August 13, 2012). "Atletas con medalla recibirán bono adicional". Primera Hora (in Spanish). Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Loco de contento Espinal con su carro". El Nuevo Día. August 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ "The Flagbearers for the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony". August 16, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Javier Culson
Flagbearer for  Puerto Rico
Rio de Janeiro 2016
Succeeded by