Sadulaev Tops Rival Snyder in 3rd Clash for Tokyo Olympics Gold

By Ken Marantz

CHIBA, Japan (August 7)---Abdulrashid SADULAEV (ROC) came out on top in his latest clash with fellow Rio Olympic champion Kyle SNYDER (USA) at freestyle 97kg, winning "Snyderlaev III" 6-3 on Saturday night.

In the highly anticipated battle at Makuhari Messe Hall A, reigning world champi0n Sadulaev scored twice on tilts in countering low singles by Snyder and held on to add a second Olympic gold to his four world titles.

"Unbelievable, awesome," Sadulaev said. "I know this feeling because five years ago I won. It’s more difficult to defend than to win. So it’s a dream today."

Sadulaev took a 2-0 lead in the second period after receiving an activity point and scoring on a stepout.

In the second period, Snyder shot for a low single and Sadulaev showed how he earned his nickame "The Russian Tank" when he lifted the American off the mat. While Sadulaev wasn't able throw Snyder for points, he managed to tilt him over.

A short time later, Snyder got in on the same single leg, and the result was exactly the same, giving the Russian a 4-0 lead.

Snyder, a two-time former world champion, put himself back into the match with a hard-earned takedown with 50 seconds left, then added a stepout point with :28 on the clock. But the 25-year-old Sadulaev wasn't budging after that, and held on for his second win in two career matches with Snyder.

Asked about how he felt about his historic victory, Sadualev said, "To be honest for now I don’t eel anything because I am too tired. Maybe after sometime I will tell you."

The two, born just six months apart, had been on parallel tracks throughout their careers, both winning senior world freestyle titles in 2015 and an Olympic gold at Rio 2016, all before their 21st birthdays.

Sadulaev won the 86kg gold in Rio, where Snyder triumphed at 97kg. Sadulaev moved up to 97kg the next year, and their paths first crossed in the final at the 2017 World Championships in Paris in a match immediately dubbed "The Match of the Century."

Snyder prevailed to take the gold, which also gave the U.S. the freestyle team title, scoring the winning points of a 6-5 decision in the final 30 seconds. A year later in Budapest, Sadulaev turned the tide turned in the world with an innovative fall in just 70 seconds.

At the 2019 World Championships, a highly anticipated third match never came about after Snyder lost in the semifinals to 2012 London Olympic champion Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE) as Sadulaev went on to win his fourth world title.


Snyder Takes Olympic Loss to Sadulaev in Stride

By Ken Marantz

CHIBA, Japan (August 7)---The competitor in Kyle SNYDER (USA) hated the defeat. The wrestler in him loved the battle.

Snyder took his loss to rival Abdurashid SADULAEV (ROC) in the final of the freestyle 97kg class on Saturday night at the Tokyo Olympics in stride, already looking forward to the next chance for the two titans to clash.

"It is still exciting," Snyder said. "I love competition, I love wrestling, and I'm thankful to be able to compete." About facing Sadulaev again, he said, "I'd love it."

In the third meeting between the two since they both won gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics in different weight classes, Sadulaev beat the American for the second time with a 6-3 victory at Makuhari Messe Hall A to add a second Olympic gold to his four world titles.

Sadulaev, who had an activity point and a stepout in the first period, built up a 6-0 lead with a pair of tilts in countering Snyder's single-leg takedown attempts. On the first one, the wrestler known as The Russian Tank at one point lifted a prone Snyder completely off the mat, but not enough for a throw and instead settled for angling him over.

"There are definitely some positions that I have got to get better in," Snyder said. "That is what I'm thinking about. I have got to finish those attacks, so that is what I'm going to do. We had an idea of what it would be like."

Snyder, a two-time world champion, never gave up the fight, and came back to score a takedown and stepout in the final minute before Sadulaev ran out the clock.

"I'm a competitor so I hate to lose," Snyder said. "It's the spirit of Jesus that is strong in me. I'm not that strong as a guy, but Jesus is really strong and his spirit keeps me moving forward."

In the series dubbed "Snyderlaev" that drew worldwide attention, Snyder came out on top in their first clash in the final at the 2017 World Championships in Paris, Sadulaev's first after moving up to 97kg. Sadulaev had won the gold in Rio at 86kg, while Snyder had triumphed at 97kg.

Sadulaev gained his revenge at "Snyderlaev II" at the World Championships the next year in Budapest. He has not tasted defeat on the mat since that loss in Paris.

While it is uncertain what Sadulaev's plans are at the moment, Snyder would welcome a "Snyderlaev IV" at this year's World Championships in Oslo in October. Anyway, he intends to be there.

"Lord willing, I will be at the world championships," he said.

Like all American wrestlers, Snyder needs to constantly earn his spot on the national team to major tournaments. Having set the record as the youngest-ever US champion at both the worlds and Olympics, he knows there are always new faces coming along ready to knock him off.

"Guys are getting better and better," he said of prospects for U.S. wrestling. "Everybody is doing the right stuff. We have great coaches, support staff and training environments.

"I'm really happy for all my teammates who did a great job here, and all the coaches because they work so hard. I think we're going to dominate and keep getting better."

With Snyder's silver, the United States finished the Olympic wrestling tournament with nine medals overall, the most of any nation, including three golds.