US wrestler Kyle Snyder falls to Russian rival, wins Olympic silver
TOKYO – Kyle Snyder’s showdown with Abdulrashid Sadulaev went just like the last one.
The former Buckeye lost to the Russian in the gold-medal match in the 97kg freestyle class Saturday, just as he did at the 2018 world championships. In their three meetings, Sadulaev has won twice and Snyder once.
Sadulaev is unbeaten since losing to Snyder at the 2017 world championships.
Sadulaev took an early lead and held on for the 6-3 win. When the match ended, Snyder stood in the center of the mat, head bowed and hands on his knees.
The silver was the eighth medal for U.S. wrestling, matching the high for a non-boycotted games. Sarah Hildebrandt won bronze in the 50kg weight class later Saturday to add a ninth medal for the Americans.
Snyder was just 20 and attending Ohio State when he won gold in Rio, making him the youngest U.S. wrestler ever to win an Olympic title. Sadulaev also won gold in 2016, but at the 86kg class. He moved up to 97kg the following year, setting up his rivalry with Snyder.
Snyder beat Sadulaev for his third consecutive world title in 2017 in what was dubbed “The Match of the Century.” Snyder overcame a two-point deficit in the last minute to win 6-5 to hand Sadulaev his first loss since 2013.
But Sadulaev avenged the loss at the world championships in 2018, needing just 70 seconds to pin Snyder. Sadulaev won his second consecutive world title in 2019 while Snyder lost in the semifinals.
After those 2019 worlds, where Snyder captured bronze, he switched up his training regimen. He left OSU, where he’d won three NCAA titles, and moved to State College to train on Penn State's campus with Cael Sanderson, the gold medalist at 87kg at the Atlanta Olympics.
Snyder cruised through the early rounds in Tokyo, but ultimately was no match for his old foe.