Three years ago Kyle Snyder left his high school in Good Counsel, Maryland to move across the country and spend his senior year training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. Now, at only twenty years of age, Kyle Snyder is an Olympic champion.
It’s not supposed to happen this quickly. Wrestling is one of the toughest and most physical sports in the world. Wrestlers barely out of their teens aren’t supposed to beat up grown-ass men. Especially not some of the toughest men in the world. Still, Snyder did it. In the Gold Medal match Snyder faced Khetag Gazyumov of Azerbaijan, a wrestler who he had fallen to just over one month ago. Snyder showed tremendous growth, learning from his mistakes in the first match and pulling out a 2-1 victory to secure the gold.
Snyder won his first two matches of the day relatively safely, but in his semifinal against Odikadze of Georgia the Buckeye found himself in an early 4-0 hole. By the second period the tide began to turn and Snyder used a series of pushouts and a four-point throw to rack up 9 consecutive points. By the end of the match Odikadze seemed exhausted and, frankly, broken. Snyder won 9-4.
While a 20-year-old winning Olympic wrestling gold isn’t unheard of, it is very rare. So is Snyder. In his well-documented career Snyder went 179-0 as a high school wrestler, giving up only one takedown in three years. As a teenager he won a Junior World Championship and took bronze another year. Snyder followed up an NCAA runner-up finish in 2015 with a World Championship later that summer. At only 19 years old, he was the youngest world champion in United States history. Originally slated to sit out the 2015/2016 NCAA season, Snyder joined the Buckeye lineup in January. By March he was an NCAA champion, defeating the 2x defending champ in the process. Now he’s an Olympic Gold Medalist. Later this year he will be old enough to buy a beer.
Looking through the history of American wrestling it is tough to find an athlete that has accomplished as much as Snyder has at this age. To state the obvious, his potential for even greater things is unlimited. Fortunately for Buckeye fans, he still has two years of eligibility remaining. Pray for the Heavyweight division.