Woodbine wrestler Kyle Snyder lost a highly anticipated showdown with the Russian Olympic Committee’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev in the 97-kilogram Olympic freestyle final Saturday in Tokyo to earn a silver medal.
Sadulaev, a now five-time world champion, won the match 6-3 to claim his second gold medal after cruising to victory at 86 kilograms at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Known as the “Russian Tank,” Sadulaev scored the first point on a shot clock violation by Snyder, then got a push-out soon after to take a 2-0 lead into the second period. Sadulaev added two more points early in the second on an exposure after countering a low-single leg attack by Snyder, and the Russian piled on by scoring two additional points on another exposure on a nearly identical counter to Snyder’s shot.
Snyder, who was the youngest American to win wrestling gold when he took home the 97-kilogram gold medal in Rio five years ago at age 20, finished a takedown with about 45 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 6-2 — the first points scored on Sadulaev in the Olympics. Snyder added a push-out point with 28 seconds to go but couldn’t manage another score.
The victory gives Sadulaev the past two wins in the rivalry that dates back four years. Snyder stunned Sadulaev, 6-5, in the 2017 world finals but Sadulaev has not lost a match since and avenged that defeat by pinning Snyder for the 2018 world championship and again Saturday night in Tokyo.
Still, Snyder’s silver medal adds to the 25-year-old’s impressive career. A three-time world champion, Snyder now has two world silvers to go with a bronze.
Snyder defeated Suleyman Karadeniz of Turkey on Friday to advance to the gold medal match after he previously made quick work of Jordan Steen of Canada in the opening round, then took out Abraham Conyedo of Italy in the quarterfinals.
Sadulaev shut out former Olympic champion Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan, Elizbar Odikadze of Georgia, and Reineris Salas of Cuba en route to the final.
Snyder, a native of Woodbine, a community on the border of Carroll and Howard counties, went 179-0 during his three high school years at Good Counsel and went on to win three NCAA titles at Ohio State. He now trains out of State College, Pennsylvania, as part of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club under the guidance of Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, a 2004 Olympic champion who’s best known for finishing his college career with a 159-0 record.
This story has been updated.