Kyle Snyder already accomplished so much in the last 365 days, an NCAA title and world championship to his name. But there’s one final medal out there for the Ohio State sophomore wrestler to grab; the biggest of them all.
Snyder worked toward this opportunity for quite some time now, and since qualifying for the Olympics back in April, he has worked out two, sometimes three times per day at Ohio State with one goal in mind.
“I’ve been preparing for it for a long time so I’m just excited to put it on the line, put all my work on the line,” Snyder said Tuesday. “I’m excited to show everybody how hard I’ve worked and prove to myself that I’m the best wrestler in the world.”
Snyder took the wrestling world by storm last fall when he became the youngest United States world champion ever, winning gold at just 19 years old. He planned to take a redshirt year as a sophomore at Ohio State to train for the Olympics but burned that roughly halfway through the Buckeyes’ season to help the team pursue a second-straight national title while also going for an individual crown.
Snyder went 11-0 for Ohio State last season, and while the Buckeyes did not claim a team title — Penn State won the national title; Ohio State finished third — Snyder won an NCAA crown at heavyweight by defeating two-time champion Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State.
After that, Snyder went on to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials where he defeated 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Jake Varner, to earn his spot on the American team heading to Rio next month.
Buckeyes head wrestling coach Tom Ryan is constantly in awe.
“I’ve been doing this 22 years and this is the first Olympian that I’ve had so it shows the uniqueness of Kyle and the deep desire he has to be elite so I’m excited as heck about it,” Ryan said. “I’m really excited and I can’t wait. These are the things I think we dream about as little kids. What third-grader, fourth-grader, fifth-grader isn’t running around saying, ‘I want to be an Olympian someday?’ This guy is living the life to do that so I can’t wait to watch him.”
Snyder, who wrestles in the 97 kilogram/213-pound division, will not compete until the very last day of the Olympics — Sunday, Aug. 21. He leaves for Rio in just a few weeks, however, and will take part in the opening ceremony with all of the other Olympic athletes before having a little bit of free time leading up until his competition day.
The opportunity to not only represent Ohio State but the United States as well is something that is certainly not lost on Snyder.
“There’s been a lot of great athletes at Ohio State and I think we have nine Olympians or something like that this year representing different countries so I’m very proud to represent Ohio State and then represent our country,” Snyder said. “Other than serving our country in the military, I feel like being an Olympian is the next best way to represent your country and I’m really excited to do it.”