Team USA’s Sarah Hildebrandt (50 kg) celebrates after getting a technical superiority victory, 12-1, in her bronze-medal match with Ukraine’s Oksana Livach at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
We made it. The thirteenth and final session of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games inside the Makuhari Messe Hall is in the books. The last three weights (Men’s 65 kg 97 kg) and (Women’s 50 kg) were awarded their medals, two of which went to the U.S. athletes in Kyle Snyder (silver) and Sarah Hildebrandt (bronze).
As has been the case on many different occasions throughout the past week of nonstop wrestling, American competitors made their presence known throughout the session.
Truthfully, you could not have written a better-scripted ending to these unique Tokyo 2020 Games than what we saw at 97 kg early Saturday morning (or late Saturday evening) if you were in Tokyo.
The Games’ signature match of the entire event was the gold-medal match at 97 kg between the top two seeds at the weight in No. 1 Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia and No. 2 Kyle Snyder of the United States. The much-anticipated matchup was a battle of 2016 Rio Olympic champions (Snyder at 97 kg and Sadulaev at 86 kg). This match, dubbed #Snyderlaev3, was the match we all wanted to see. This was the match we all expected to see.
What we did necessarily expect, though, was that the unofficial “team race” would be decided by the latest iteration on this budding rivalry between the Russian and the American, which dates back to 2017.
The gold-medal matchup will be the third overall matchup of the two 25-year-old 2016 Olympic champions. The pair met in the World Championships in 2017 (Snyder won) and (2018 Sadulaev won). The rubber match will come in the 2020 Tokyo gold-medal finals.
Snyder fought hard against Sadulaev, the pound-for-pound best men’s freestyler in the world, who has lost twice since 2014, beat the former Ohio State Buckeye, Snyder 6-3. With that, Snyder takes a silver medal home to Happy Valley. The “Russian Tank” won his second straight Olympic gold medal.
At 25 years old, Kyle Snyder has already won:— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) August 7, 2021
-Olympic Gold, '16
-Olympic Silver, '20
-World Gold, '15, '17
-World Silver, '18
-World Bronze, '19
There's not many in USA Wrestling history who have done better, and he still has so many years left. #wrestling
In the gold-medal match, Snyder and Sadulaev spent that majority of period one hand fighting and feeling each other out. The Russian took a 2-0 lead to the break from an activity point and a step-out point. In the second period, Sadulaev was able to turn two low single-leg attempts into a pair of two-point exposures for himself to extend the lead to 6-0.
Snyder rallied late in the second for a takedown and a step-out point to cut the lead in half, but that was as close as it would get.
With the individual loss for Team USA, Russia, or the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) as they are being called at Tokyo 2020, won the men’s freestyle team race with 105 total team points. Team USA took second with 100 points.
A few matches later, Sarah Hildebrandt put an exclamation point on the Tokyo Olympic Games for Team USA with a 12-1 technical superiority decision to earn a bronze medal in her first Olympic Games appearance for the Red, White, and Blue.
Hildebrandt secured a takedown against 2018 World bronze medalist and No. 3 seed Oksana Livach of Ukraine at the buzzer for an early 2-0 lead. Then, Hildebrandt found her offense. In the final period, the Indiana native put up nine second-period points to secure a bronze medal. She did so with two more takedowns before transitioning to her signature leg lace. The 12-1 victory gave Hildebrandt a bronze for herself and a ninth medal for Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Final #Tokyo2020 Women’s Freestyle medal count:— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) August 7, 2021
USA women only had 5 all-time OLY medalists before the week, finish with 4 this week. Remarkable. #wrestling
While the final session didn’t go perfectly for Team USA, there is still plenty of cause for excitement and optimism for Team USA Wrestling and its fans.
With these two additional medals, the U.S. won nine Olympic medals in Tokyo in wrestling. Included are three Olympic champions, Steveson, David Taylor (men’s freestyle at 86 kg), and Tamyra Mensah Stock (women’s freestyle at 68 kg). Plus, a pair of silver medalists in Adeline Gray (women’s freestyle at 76 kg) and Kyle Snyder (men’s freestyle at 97 kg). Lastly, Thomas Gilman (men’s freestyle at 57 kg) and Sarah Hildebrandt (women’s freestyle at 50 kg) also brought home bronze medals in their respective Olympic debuts.
Of note, all five of the men’s freestyle wrestlers from the USA competing in Tokyo won a medal. And five of the six women’s freestyle wrestlers from the USA competed in a medal-match, and four of those five took home a medal.
Final USA🇺🇸 Results from #Tokyo2020:— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) August 7, 2021
Men’s FS: 🥇🥇🥈🥉🥉
-5-for-5 in medals
Women’s FS: 🥇🥈🥉🥉
-4/6 medal + Jacarra wrestled for bronze
USAW wins 9 total medals after winning 11 combined between ‘08, ‘12, ‘16.
This was a special week. #wrestling
Comparatively speaking, concerning Olympic medals, Team USA made a big jump in Tokyo. Over the last three Olympic cycles (Beijing in 2008, London in 2012, and Rio de Janeiro in 2016), the U.S. combined 10 total medals (5 gold, 5 bronze) in wrestling.
It’s undoubtedly a fun time to be a Team USA Wrestling fan. Congratulations to all involved, especially our 15 total Olympians and nine Olympic freestyle medalists.
Team USA official release – Men’s Freestyle – Snyder
Team USA official release – Women’s Freestyle – Hildebrandt