Canada will have to wait at least another four years for its first Olympic medal in men's freestyle wrestling since Daniel Igali's gold at Sydney 2000.
On the final day of competition at London 2012, Haislan Veranes Garcia and Khetag Pliev were unable to make the podium as they both lost repechage matches in their respective divisions.
Coquitlam, B.C.'s Garcia, who made the quarter-finals after a walk-through in the 66kg preliminaries followed by a three-round win over Tajikistan's Zalimkhan Yusupov, fell in a tough match to Japan's Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu 0-1, 1-0, 5-0 and then lost his repechage bout 1-0, 0-1, 1-0 to Cuba's Livan Lopez Azcuy.
Garcia, who was born in Cuba but moved to Canada eight years ago, looked strong in his earlier win but he was too defensive against Lopez Azcuy, with whom he was very familiar having previously lost to the 2011 Pan American Games bronze medallist. There was no scoring in regulation in either of the first two rounds, which were split after each scored the sudden-death takedown after getting his ball drawn.
Garcia found himself battling for back position midway through the third period and Lopez proved too strong, getting the Canadian onto his stomach for the winning score. The 29-year-old Garcia did not register a point apart from the winning takedown from the clinch in the first round's overtime frame.
He lost a tough one as well to Yonemitsu, who went on to win the 66kg gold medal. Garcia lost the draw after a scoreless first round, but instead of securing the single leg, Yonemitsu went for a double-leg takedown and Garcia was able to defend it for 30 seconds to take the point. In the second, Yonemitsu was able to get a double-leg for the first point and then defended well against Garcia's aggressive attempts to find the next one.
Late in the third, Yonemitsu went for a single but quickly transitioned to a double and got Garcia down very quickly for two points. Garcia then appealed to the referee for a penalty, showing his finger was bleeding. A replay showed he had gotten his hand in the Japanese wrestler's mouth during their scramble and Yonemitsu bit down. A caution for biting could result in up to a two-point penalty, but because Garcia was deemed to have shoved his fingers in his opponent's mouth, he was the one penalized a point.
The 2010 and 2011 Pan American Championships bronze medallist tried for a big throw to get back into the match but Yonemitsu instead reversed it for a three-point takedown and held on for the win.
Garcia, making his second Olympic appearance, managed to improve on his 18th-place finish at Beijing 2008. He got a win by default in his first scheduled bout when his Tunisian opponent Haitem Ben Alayech did not show up, and then defeated Yusupov 2-0, 0-2, 2-0. Against Yusupov, he got the benefit of a drawn ball and an upheld challenge after a scoreless first round to score the extra-time point at 2:14. Then after dropping the second round, he responded with a winning two-point takedown in the third.
Later, Yonemitsu was a 1-0, 3-1 winner in the final over India's Sushil Kumar, who was also involved in an apparent biting incident on Sunday. Reminiscent of boxer Mike Tyson's infamous chomping in a bout against Evander Holyfield, India's Sushil Kumar appeared to bite the cauliflower ear of his opponent Akzhurek Tanatarov of Kazakhstan in their 66kg semi-final, drawing a fair amount of blood. He was not penalized and instead advanced to the final to coincidentally take on Yonemitsu.
Lopez Azcuy ended up taking a bronze medal with a victory over Azerbaijain's Jabrayil Hasanov. Tanatarov got some consolation for his bloody injury by defeating Turkey's Ramazan Sahin in his bronze-medal match, during which his ear was bandaged up.
In the 96kg division, Toronto's Pliev lost his quarter-final match 1-0, 1-0 to Jacob Varner of the U.S. on two takedowns and then dropped two rounds against Uzbekistan's Kurban Kurbanov in the repechage.
Kurbanov scored first when he grappled against Pliev at the boundary. The Russian-born Canadian tried to circle away to stay in bounds but barely touched a foot on the blue mat for a point to his opponent.
The Uzbekistani wrestler then took Pliev down early in the second and got a gut wrench turn for another two points. After being spun for another point, the 28-year-old Pliev managed a late takedown but had no time left to make up the three-point deficit and lost 1-0, 4-1.
Earlier Pliev rallied from an 0-2 hole in the second frame of his first match after already being down one round to win a 0-2, 2-2, 1-0 decision over Javier Cortina Lacerra of Cuba.
Pliev, who was making his Olympic debut, was hoping for a better performance but was happy with the experience. It is quite the feat for the former national champion, who came to Canada for good when he was 21 but spent the summer of 2008 homeless and sleeping on a bench in Toronto's Allan Gardens. There he found a Bible, began reading it and ended up becoming a born-again Christian.
"I feel this is special, this is the Olympic Games and it brings the world together," Pliev said. "I am wrestling for Canada, it is a good country and I am proud of that.
"It is all possible by God. I didn't think I had the strength to turn my life around (but) God helped me."
Varner ended up capturing gold with a win over Ukraine's Valerii Andriitsev. Kurbanov lost his bronze-medal match to George Gogshelidze of Georgia, while Azerbaijan's Khetag Gazyumov took the other bronze when 2011 world champion Reza Mohammad Ali Yazdani of Iran pulled out after being injured in his semi-final match against Andriitsev.
None of the Canadians competing in the three-day men's freestyle competition were able to make the podium. Team Canada leaves London with just the two medals in women's wrestling: Beijing 2008 gold medallist Carol Huynh won a bronze in the 48kg division and Tonya Verbeek won her third Olympic medal, taking a second 55kg silver to go with her first at Athens 2004 and a bronze in Beijing.