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Gable Steveson scores stunning last-second takedown of world champion for USA wrestling gold

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Gable Steveson's quest for U.S. Olympic gold looked destined to fall just short on Friday.

Georgia's three-time reigning world champion Geno Petriashvili held an 8-7 lead over Steveson in the final seconds the 125kg final, seemingly well on his way to adding Tokyo gold to his bronze from Rio in 2016. 

But Steveson had other ideas, clearly a believer in the mantra of playing to the whistle. 

The referee stopped the match with 6.5 seconds remaining after Steveson scored a two-point takedown to cut his 8-5 deficit to one point. The wrestlers then squared off one last time in the center of the mat, with Petriashvili needing to avoid another Steveson score to secure gold. He did not succeed.

Last-second stunner

Steveson attacked Petriashvili low as soon as the whistle blew. He eventually secured a grip around Petriashvili's torso and scored another two-point takedown as time expired. Steveson looked up to the referee, who confirmed the score. Steveson jumped for joy before finding his coach for a bear hug. 

The Georgian corner challenged the call, but video review confirmed that Steveson scored the takedown with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock. Steveson was awarded an additional penalty point for the failed Georgia challenge for a 10-8 final and a victory for the gold medal. 

The 6-1, 275-pound Minnesotan then celebrated with a massive backflip across the wrestling mat.

Gable Steveson did a backflip after securing Olympic gold (Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
Gable Steveson did a backflip after securing Olympic gold (Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)

Steveson shut out all of his opponents before Petriashvili

Steveson, 21, was not the favorite to win gold this week. But the reigning NCAA champion at 285 pounds for the University of Minnesota arrived in Friday's final having outscored his Olympic opponents 23-0 in three matches. That tally included an 8-0 shutout of two-time world champion and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Taha Akgul of Turkey in the quarterfinal.

He kept his shutout going early in the match, taking a 4-0 first-period lead over Petriashvili. But Petriashvili ended it in the second period, cutting his deficit to 5-2 before reeling off six straight points to carry the 8-5 lead into the fateful final seconds. He'll add silver to his already impressive career medal haul. 

If Steveson's first name rings a bell, there's a reason. His full name is Gable Dan Steveson, after U.S. wrestling icon and 1972 Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable. He surely made his namesake proud in Tokyo.

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