Kyle Snyder's name officially sits among the world's best in wrestling.
The current Ohio State Buckeye defeated Khetag Gazyumov of Azerbaijan 2-1 Sunday afternoon to win Olympic gold in the 97-kilogram freestyle tournament in Rio de Janeiro. In addition to becoming the first active Buckeye wrestler ever to win an Olympic medal, the 20-year-old Snyder is also the youngest American wrestler to ever win gold.
Snyder took a 1-0 lead after the first period by forcing Gazyumov out of bounds. He secured a penalty point nearly a minute later before allowing one to Gazyumov shortly thereafter.
The Buckeye and American then withstood a late push from Gazyumov to secure the gold medal.
“It was a tough match,” Snyder said. ”I wrestled that guy like a month ago and he beat me, so I’m happy that I’ve been able to improve on that performance, and, I keep saying it, I’m really thankful and grateful that I’ve even had this opportunity wrestle and my family and friends have been down here, to share it with them.”
Snyder defeated Georgia's Elizbar Odikadze in the semifinals 9-4 earlier Sunday, coming back from an early 4-0 deficit to earn his shot at winning gold.
The defending NCAA heavyweight champion downed Romania's Albert Saritov 7-0 in the quarterfinals and Javier Cortina of Cuba 10-3 in his preliminary round match on Sunday morning.
Before Snyder, Richard Voliva was the most recent Buckeye to earn an Olympic medal, doing so in 1936. Voliva took silver in the middleweight freestyle in Germany. The last and only other Ohio State wrestler to win gold is Harry Steel in 1924. Both Steel and Voliva won their medals after graduating from Ohio State.
Snyder's victory in the gold medal match caps an unbelievable year for the sophomore. In addition to the heavyweight national championship this past winter, Snyder also took the top spot at the world championships in Las Vegas last summer.
|OPENING||JAVIER CORTINA (CUBA)||WON||10–3|
|QUARTERFINALS||ALBERT SARITOV (ROMANIA)||WON||7–0|
|SEMIFINALS||ELIZBAR ODIKADZE (GEORGIA)||WON||9–4|
|FINALS||KHETAG GOZIUMOV (AZERBAIJAN)||WON||2–1|