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You’re Nuts: Who is the best Ohio State Olympian that competed during your lifetime?

Your (almost) daily dose of good-natured, Ohio State banter.

Rio 2016 men’s freestyle wrestling Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

We are a little less than six months removed from the Summer Olympics, and now we are just over a week away from the start of the Winter Olympics. Usually we don’t have both Olympics packed into a six-month span, but COVID-19 forced the 2020 Summer Olympics to be pushed back a year to 2021. This year’s edition of the Winter Olympics will take place in Beijing, and all the action can be found on tape delay on NBC. There will probably be some live events show, you just will probably have to jump through hoops to find it.

It shouldn’t surprise you to find out that the best university in the country has been well represented in the Olympics over the years. Ohio State has produced over 200 Olympic athletes, including sending 26 athletes to Tokyo in the summer, which were the most to ever come from the university. While the majority of the athletes Ohio State sends to the Olympics are in the summer games, the Buckeyes hold their own when it comes to athletes in the winter games with scarlet and gray ties.

We want to know who is the best Ohio State Olympian that you have ever seen. If we asked who the best Buckeye Olympian ever is, everybody would answer Jesse Owens, so that’s why we are asking for the best that you have seen to try and add a little variety to the answers. It doesn’t matter if the Olympian was in the Summer or Winter Olympics, they just had to participate in the Olympics during your life time.

Today’s question: Who is the best Ohio State Olympian that competed during your lifetime?

We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.

Brett’s answer: Kyle Snyder - Wrestling

It was obvious early on in his wrestling career that Kyle Snyder was going to be special. After earning a silver medal in the NCAA Championships as a freshman, he followed it up by winning a World Championship just a few months later. Snyder would then go on to win his first NCAA Championship as a sophomore, setting the table for the Buckeye to compete for Team USA on the mats in Rio de Janeiro.

Snyder didn’t disappoint in Rio, winning all four of his matches at 97 kg and bringing a gold medal back home to the United States. Snyder was just 20 years old when he won the gold medal, becoming the youngest Olympic Wrestling Champion in United States history, breaking the mark that Henry Cejudo had set. Snyder is also the youngest wrestler to win the NCAA, World, and Olympic championships in the same year. It’s also likely to be a mark that won’t be broken. If anyone is going to break Snyder’s mark, they’ll have to be an even more special talent than he was, which is asking a lot.

The Ohio State wrestler returned to the Olympics over the summer, again competing at 97 kg. While Snyder had another gold medal in his sights, it wasn’t meant to be, as Snyder fell in the gold medal match to Abdulrashid Sadulaev, who is currently considered the most dominant active freestyle wrestler in the world. Sadulaev is nicknamed “The Russian Tank”.

While it’s unknown if Snyder will be competing in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Snyder still won’t even be 30 years old when that edition of the Olympics kicks off. Hopefully Snyder is able to compete in Paris, adding a little more gold to his collection before in the future returning to Columbus as a coach, and helping to mold the next generation of great Buckeye wrestlers.

Meredith’s answer: Katie Smith - Basketball

I love Kyle Snyder’s Olympic story, but I’m going to go with Katie Smith. The prowess of USA Basketball and the Women’s National Team has been well-documented, and came to a point last summer when the team won its seventh-straight gold medal in the delayed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Katie Smith was on the roster for three of those medals. She was part of Team USA in 2000 in Sydney, 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing.

What’s interesting about Katie Smith, who also happens to be an Ohio native, is that Ohio State fans likely don’t think of her first as an Olympian (which for most of the rest of us would be perhaps our biggest honor), but instead, Smith is one of those cool and rare athletes who has had success at every level — from high school to college to pros to coaching. Throw in international competition, and Smith is among the elite athletes in all sports. Here’s a shortlist of her biggest accolades:

  • Gatorade National Player of the Year (high school)
  • Big Ten Player of the Year (Smith also, as a freshman, led Ohio State to the title game of the 1992 NCAA Tournament)
  • 2X WNBA Champion
  • 7X WNBA All-Star
  • Oh yes… and three Olympic gold medals.

Making her even cooler, Smith was part of that original core of the WNBA, playing across from the founders of the league. She continues to be part of the fabric of the WNBA today as an assistant with the Minnesota Lynx.

Also, this week I learned Smith was a zoology major at Ohio State, which is just one more reason to like her.