One year after becoming the youngest world champion in U.S. history for wrestling, 20-year-old Kyle Snyder is now the country’s youngest Olympic champion in the sport.
Snyder defeated Khetag Gazyumov, the world No. 3, in the men’s 97kg freestyle wrestling final by a score of 2-1 to win gold in his Olympic debut.
It’s the first (and only) gold for the U.S. in men’s wrestling at these Olympics, and the nation’s third medal in wrestling overall. Earlier this week, Helen Maroulis won gold in women’s wrestling and J’den Cox took bronze in men’s freestyle.
Snyder’s excellent conditioning was on display throughout the tournament as he battled hard through his four matches, with his opponents often looking worn out late in matches during the later rounds.
The gas tank was clearly on display in Snyder’s semifinal match with Georgia’s Elizbar Odikadze. It looked as though Snyder could be in trouble when the world No. 6 scored an early four-point takedown on him and took a 4-0 lead into the break between periods. Then Snyder came out and dominated the second period, as an exhausted Odikadze could do nothing to prevent Snyder from getting hold of his leg and forcing him to step out. Three step outs cut it 4-3, then Snyder hit a takedown to tave over the lead. The match ended with a 9-4 advantage to Snyder.
In the final, Snyder got on the board with a step out and a shot clock point to take a 2-0 lead. Snyder gave up a shot clock point to Gazyumov late in the match, but it wouldn’t cost him. Neither wrestler added any more points to the board, and the bout ended 2-1 in favor of Snyder.
“It was good,” Snyder said of his match with Gazyumov. “That guy beat me a month ago, so any time you can avenge a loss, keep improving, it’s good stuff.”
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SOURCE: NBC Olympics, Shawn Smith