Kyle Snyder wins gold, becomes youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion ever

Fourth-Place Medal

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American wrestler Kyle Snyder is used to being first.

Three years ago, he became the youngest to win a junior world wrestling championship. Last year he rattled off a stunning string of victories to become the youngest world champion in U.S. history. On Sunday – in front of the world and at just 20 years old – he became the youngest American to become an Olympic wrestling champion.

History made, as Snyder has managed to do time and time again.

To get there, the Ohio State wrestler took down Azerbaijan’s Khetag Gazyumov 2-1 in the 97-kilogram freestyle wrestling division. His 33-year-old opponent is ranked No. 3 in the world and holds two Olympic bronze medals, from 2008 and 2012.

[Related: U.S. boxer Claressa Shields makes history, wins second Olympic gold]

The match was Snyder’s fourth on Sunday. The American handled Cuba’s Javier Cortina in the Round of 16 with a 10-3 win, before cruising past Albert Saritov of Romania 7-0 in the quarterfinals.

U.S. wrestler Kyle Snyder celebrates after winning gold at the 2016 Olympics. (Reuters)
U.S. wrestler Kyle Snyder celebrates after winning gold at the 2016 Olympics. (Reuters)

In the semifinals, Snyder had a tougher time with Elizbar Odikadze of Georgia, who is ranked No. 6 internationally. At the first intermission, the score was 4-0 in favor of the Georgian before the 20-year-old from Maryland stormed back to win 9-4.

Snyder, a junior at OSU, won the NCAA championship last year. He is the first Buckeye to compete for the United States in the Olympics in men’s wrestling since 1992.

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