Gable Steveson was not the favorite to win a gold medal in his weight class at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but that did not stop him from pulling off an epic upset in dramatic, last-second fashion to become the youngest super heavyweight to ever win an Olympic gold medal match in freestyle wrestling.
Gable Steveson – Defying the odds
Prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympics, Gable Steveson was a +700 underdog to a win a gold medal at the 125kg weight class in freestyle wrestling, behind three-time (2017, 2018, 2019) and defending World Champion Geno Petriashvili (+125) from Georgia, the 2016 Olympic Champion Tahul Akgul (+125) from Turkey and 2020 Asian Wrestling Champion Yusup Batirmurzaev (+400) of Khazakstan.
Path to the final
Some might argue that the reigning Hodge Trophy winner and NCAA Division I Heavyweight champion from the University of Minnesota’s journey to Olympic gold began when he was named Gable Dan after the legendary Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable.
Since winning the Olympic trials in April, Steveson has been laser focused on Olympic competition, indicating that he was willing to sacrifice everything with this tweet that he posed just before the start of his Olympic freestyle matches:
— Gable Steveson (@GableSteveson) August 3, 2021
Steveson’s determination to do more than just compete in Tokyo was apparent from the start as he dominated early competition without conceding a single point, beating Kyrgyzstan’s Aiall Lazarev by technical fall (10-0), Akgul 9-0 and Mongolia’s Mönkhtöriin Lkhagvagerel 5-0.
— Roman Bravo-Young (@RomanBravoYoung) August 5, 2021
Last second upset
Steveson was the underdog heading into his match with Petriashvili but opened up a 4-0 lead with two takedowns. The defending World Champion turned the tables, however, scoring a takedown and two gut-wrenches for six points to build a 8-5 lead with 90 seconds left. But Steveson was not going to be denied, scoring a takedown with 10 seconds left to make it 7-8 to trail by a single point and another takedown with half a second left to win 9-8 in one of the most improbable comebacks in Olympic wrestling history.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 6, 2021
The Bright Future
At 21 years old, Gable Steveson is the youngest person to have won a gold medal match in freestyle wrestling in the super heavyweight division at the Olympics. Russia’s Bakhtiyar Akhmedov was 21 years old when he lost the 120kg gold medal match in freestyle wrestling in Beijing in 2008 but was awarded the gold medal in 2017 after the winner of that match had his gold medal revoked due to a failed drug test.
Given how the last American to win Olympic super heavyweight gold in freestyle wrestling was 32-year-old Bruce Baumgartner and how heavyweights, compared to lower weight classes, are able to be competitive at older ages, the future looks extremely bright for young, Gable Steveson.
— United World Wrestling (@wrestling) August 6, 2021
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