Minnesota's Gable Steveson wins 2020 Olympic wrestling gold at 125kg
Gable Steveson wins 125kg gold in final moments
Here we go. There’s a spring to Geno Petriashvili’s step that hasn’t been as evident in Steveson’s other opponents to the same degree, but Steveson is still working to utilize his strength as usual. Petriashvili’s tough, he’s forceful, and Steveson wasn’t moving as quickly with the same ease as he has against earlier opponents. Ninety seconds into the match, however, things started to turn for Steveson. He picked up a point after Petriashvili was dinged for passivity, and this changed the tide. Steveson followed his first point with a quick takedown off a trip. Petriashvili goes for a takedown of his down, but Steveson’s incredible defense enables him to counter and pick up a step out point. Those counters have served him well all tournament, but he also notched reversal points after Petriashvili earned his first takedown. Less a minute to go, Petriashvili turned it on and shut down Steveson’s momentum. A takedown and two turns flipped the score from 5-2 Steveson to 8-5 Petriashvili.
Thirty seconds to go.
Petriashvili is wrestling with patience and relaxation, but Steveson isn’t giving up. He notches a takedown off a counterattack for two and a takedown at the last second, and that's gold for Gable. Georgia challenges the last takedown, but the failed challenge makes the final score 10-8.
Gable Steveson will stand on top of the podium as an Olympic champion in a few minutes, but first, he shows off that celebration backflip again.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED! 🥇@GableSteveson grabs the GOLD as time expires. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/yqMc3wbXsu— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 6, 2021
Steveson dominates first 3 matches, will go for gold Friday
Minnesota's Gable Steveson cruised through his first three Olympic matches on Thursday without giving up a point. That sets up a gold medal showdown with world champion Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) early Friday morning.
Read below for a full recap of all three of Steveson's Thursday matches.
SEMIFINALS: Gable Steveson (United States) stayed unbeaten against Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur (Mongolia) 5-0
Another match, another elite competitor. Steveson met Mongolia's Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur in the center of the mat before this semifinals match, and it was on. In a similar show of strength and style, Steveson made the first move and put himself on the board early as he worked to punch his ticket to the finals. He had a medal already, but the question would be what color that medal would be, and Steveson came here for one color: gold.
An early 2-0 lead was a place Steveson was comfortable being, and, as he huddled with his coach in his corner after the first three minutes, things were looking good. His offense and control was creating yet another one-sided match, and, as a result, Munkhtur found himself on the shot clock in the midst of the second period. This was the first time an opponent of Steveson's in this Olympic run had been given this warning, likely because he didn't give the ref a chance to do anything in the first match before ending the contest early with a tech and the second match was fairly competitive all the through, though Steveson absolutely had the upper hand from start to finish. Like those two men who came before him against Steveson, Munkhtur proved unable to score, giving Steveson the shot clock point and allowing the Minnesota big man to extend his lead. One final takedown in the final 10 seconds led the final 5-0 score for Steveson and moved him on to the finals. Steveson is three-for-three with one big one left. He's got the reigning world champion Geno Petriashvili next with everything on the line. This match is expected to occur at 5:15 a.m. ET on Friday, August 6.
QUARTERFINALS: Gable Steveson (United States) shuts out Taha Akgul (Turkey) 8-0
It hasn't been that long since either of these two big men wrestled their last match, so this is truly a test of endurance. Let's see what they've got.
Physically, Steveson just looks bigger and stronger on the mat, but he's moving his feet, in classic Steveson style, like a lightweight. Both guys scoreless after the first minute, but the match is already chippy. After some handfighting and about 90 seconds of testing each other, Steveson goes in for the ankle pick and the two-point takedown. He now leads the reigning Olympic champ, and he's not slowing down.
Steveson's gas tank hasn't been a concern in the last year, and he looked completely in control and smooth in his first takedown. This is where things will get real for the Minnesota Gopher. But he wastes no time! Steveson with another takedown 15 seconds in the period — he leads Akgul 4-0. Akgul goes in for the shot, but Steveson counters and picks up two of his own. That's a 6-0 lead now with 2:15 remaining in the match. And again! And Akgul attack, a Steveson takedown. The action here is one-sided. With 30 seconds remaining, the questions have to be asked: Will he make it out of this match without giving up a point? Can he tech the former Olympic champion?
Yes and no. Steveson finishes the match with an 8-0 win over Akgul and locks up his first Olympic medal. A 10-0 win and an 8-0 win. Steveson is looking ready as ever in his chase for gold.
ROUND OF 16: Gable Steveson (United States) beats Aiaal Lazarev (Kyrgyzstan) by technical superiority 2:00
Gable Steveson has officially taken the mat for his first Olympics. His quest for gold starts now.
Sporting the blue United States singlet, Steveson greeted his opponent on the met and immediately started going to work with an early takedown in the first 20 seconds of the match. He looked for exposure points, didn't get them, went to neutral, and was immediately back on the mat after scoring another takedown. Neutral. Takedown. Neutral. Steveson is here to put on a clicic. There's no fear in his eyes, as he finds his move over and over again. One more takedown at the end of the second minute gave Steveson the tech.
That was a quick one. 10-0 tech.
Steveson will return to the mat at approximately 11:40 p.m. ET to take on the 2016 Olympic gold medalist and the No. 3 seed in this tournament Taha Akgul. In his first match of the Olympics, Akgul beat Canada's Amar Dhesi 5-0, while Steveson beat his opponent Aiaal Lazarev 10-0 in two minutes. This is a best test for Steveson.
Here's a look at Steveson's background and biography
Gable Dan Steveson was born to be a wrestling legend. Named after the great Dan Mac Gable, the Minnesota star spent his prep years developing and thriving, transforming himself into the elite star that we know today.
Steveson hails from Apple Valley, Minnesota, the same town that bred NCAA champions Mark Hall and Seth Gross, and the burgeoning big man quickly started to dominate the competition at the local level. He finished second in the high school state tournament as an eighth grader and then went on to win four consecutive individual and team titles during his four years as a high school student.
He also found tremendous success on the freestyle national and international scene, winning two Cadet World titles and a Junior World title. Steveson elected to stay local and bring his talents to the University of Minnesota, where he was quickly embraced by Gopher nation and celebrated as the next potential collegiate champion.
Since then, Steveson has one two Big Ten titles, an NCAA title and an Olympic Trials championship. He'll be the 10th Gopher wrestler to compete in the Olympics — but the first to do so in freestyle. Steveson could also be the first Minnesota wrestler to bring home gold from the Summer Games.
This is how Steveson qualified for Tokyo
Heading into the 2021 Olympic Trials, Steveson was confident.
Fresh off his first NCAA title and Hodge Trophy honor, the Minnesota star was wrestling at his best, but he had a big challenge ahead of him: Nick Gwiazdowski. The two-time NCAA Champion from NC State had beaten Steveson on a similar stage before, edging him out at the World Team Trials in 2019 in a best-of-three match series, but this time, Steveson was a different wrestler. He was bigger, stronger, more mature and more resilient. He had found his rhythm, and he wouldn't be defined.
Coming in as the No. 2 seed behind Gwiazdowski, Steveson started his tournament against former Arizona State All-American Tanner Hall, but Hall proved to be no match for Steveson. A quick tech against the Sun Devil sent Steveson into a battle with Penn State All-American Greg Kerkvliet, who he also teched.
It was time for Gwiazdowski.
Steveson had beaten Gwiazdowski a few months earlier at the 2020 RTC Cup hosted by FloWrestling, but the exhibition match was simply that, an exhibition. The real test would come on the Trials stage.
Steveson kept him momentum rolling, even against his toughest competitor to data, and recored a dominant technical fall win over Gwiazdowski in the first match before holding tough for a 10-4 win to qualify for the Olympic Team. After achieving his lifelong goal and becoming an Olympian, Steveson celebrated the only way he knows how: with a backflip.
Gable Steveson was a 2021 Olympian.
Here's how you can watch Gable Steveson in the Olympics
Gable Steveson's first Olympic match will be livestreamed here on NBCOlympics.com at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
The semifinals will be held on Thursday, Aug. 5, with the medal matchings held Friday, Aug. 6.
Important tips on how to watch the NBC wrestling coverage of the Olympic Games— USA Wrestling (@USAWrestling) July 31, 2021
📝: https://t.co/nCFVsLfbsy pic.twitter.com/3YRB4zMr2w
Complete Olympic Preview
Steveson enters the tournament unseeded and will see a fellow unseeded athlete in Aiaal Lazarev of Kyrgyzstan in the first match. Lazarev, 35, qualified for the Games after India’s rep tested positive for banned substances at the Last Chance Qualifier, bumping Lazarev in, but the veteran isn't new to this stage. Kyrgyzstan's Lazarev competed in 2016, though he did not finish on the podium.
The #WrestleTokyo FS 74kg, FS 125kg and WW 53kg Olympic brackets. pic.twitter.com/HchG7D2F2N— United World Wrestling (@wrestling) August 4, 2021
The winner of this match will take on the winner of Taha Akgül of Turkey vs. Amar Dhesi of Canada. Dhesi wrestled for Oregon State as a collegiate athlete and picked up All-American honors in 2016, 2018 and 2019, finishing as high as third in the NCAA championship. His opponent, Akgul, however, is one of the toughest athletes in the bracket and is largely expected to be a gold medal contender in these Games. Akgul won the 2016 Olympics and entered this Olympics as the No. 3 seed with the intention of repeating his success again in Tokyo. After picking up a silver medal in the 2019 World Championships following a loss to Geno Petriashvili of Georgia, Akgül is ready for redemption.
Petriashvili, a three-time World Champion at the weight and a 2016 bronze medalist, will, of course, also be a medal contender in his quest for the same goal. He holds the No. 1 seed and will be a threat to everyone in the bracket. Steveson has not faced either Akgül or Petriashvili on the senior world stage before, but, depending on how the first-round matches go, he could see Akgül as soon as the second round, and, Petriashvili in the finals, if they both wrestle well.
World Champion Spotlight: Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) avenged his European finals loss to his biggest rival, Taha AKGUL (TUR), and captured his third consecutive 125kg world title.— United World Wrestling (@wrestling) October 16, 2019
Euro Games:🥉 pic.twitter.com/6OcNjyCVpl
The bracket also included 2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier champion Yusup Batirmurzaev of Kazakhstan, seeded No. 2, and 2019 World bronze medalist Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi of Ukraine seeded No. 4. You can follow the full Olympic schedule here.
2019 World bronze medalist Zhiwei Deng of China is in the mix as well, as are World fifth place finishers Egzon Shala of Kosovo and Amir Hossein Zare of Iran. The bracket is tough from top to bottom, but Steveson is pretty tough himself. Does he have the power and skill to work his way to the gold medal stand?
Steveson's College Highlights
Gable Steveson was an immediate star from the time he first stepped on the mat to represent the Maroon and Gold. The true freshman heavyweight went undefeated in his inaugural collegiate dual season and took just two losses in the postseason, one coming in the Big Ten finals to Penn State's Anthony Cassar and the other also coming against Cassar in the NCAA semifinals. He racked up Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, but that was just the beginning.
Since his last loss to Cassar in 2019, Steveson has won 34 straight matches, 26 of which he won in bonus-point fashion. He has the highest winning percentage in Minnesota school history, he's the sixth Gopher heavyweight to win a national title and the fourth to accomplish such a feat since 2000. His championship performance in the 2021 season earned him the co-Hodge Trophy along with Spencer Lee.
Let's take a look back at some of Steveson's most memorable moments as a college wrestler:
First NCAA title: Steveson beats Mason Parris, 8-4
March 21, 2021 — Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO
This was a match Gable Steveson had been waiting for since losing to Anthony Cassar in the 2019 NCAA semifinals. It wasn't that Steveson really wanted to wrestle Parris again — he'd certainly had plenty of matches against the Michigan heavyweight — but he wanted to wrestle in the NCAA finals, an opportunity that had eluded him. After winning the Big Ten championship in 2020, Steveson was the favorite to capture his first national title in his home state, but COVID ruined his plans. Through preparation and patience, Steveson was finally back, and this time, he wasn't leaving without gold.
Match summary & recap:
Steveson started this championship match against Parris with a high-flying pace, immediately showing off his force by pushing Parris around the mat and making his opponent work to stay upright. A quick shot effort in the first 30 seconds was simply Steveson's way of warming up, and, 15 seconds later, he had Parris on the ground. A two-point takedown, and he was off and running. He tossed Parris effortless off the mat before the restart and tossed the camera a look of calm fearlessness. Parris escaped before the end of the first minute, earning his first point of the match, but escapes would be all Parris would manage in this seven-minute battle. Parris kept his head in the game, though, and he was working to create as many opportunities as possible, shooting at times, only to be denied by Steveson. After over a minute of good, solid hand-fighting action, Steveson made the final move on the edge of the match, circling around behind Parris and looking for two points, but his feet went out of bound on the effort.
STEVESON SUCCESS: Re-live Gable Steveson's championship run at the 2021 NCAA tournament
Steveson chose down to start the second period, but picked up his escape in the first 15 seconds to pull ahead 3-1. With both men back on their feet, the pace slowed a tad. Neither wrestler managed a takedown in the period, and Steveson's escape would be the only change to the score with everything on the line heading into the final two minutes. Parris was still in the fight, and he chose down to start the third, but Steveson wasn't even close to done with his scoring plans.
Though Parris would go on to earn his escape early in the third period, Steveson's quick mat return to start the period showed that he wasn't hesitating one bit. He responded to Parris' escape with a quick takedown on the edge of the mat, but gave Parris another escape to make the score 5-3. Parris, in typical Michigan Man fashion, looked for his own takedown and went in for a double-leg shot, but Steveson again warded off the effort as they went off the mat, leading to a stall call against Parris. The stall call gave Steveson another point, but Parris never counted himself out. He kept shooting, Steveson kept blocking and the match moved forward. A final takedown from Steveson and a final escape from Parris would finish up the epic battle of Big Men, and, for the first time in his career, Steveson could call himself a national champion.
- 47 seconds: Takedown Steveson - Steveson leads 2-0
- 55 seconds: Escape Parris- Steveson leads 2-1
- 3:15: Steveson escapes - Steveson extends his lead 3-1
- 5:06- Parris escapes - Steveson holds his lead 3-2
- 5:15- Takedown Steveson - Steveson leads 5-2
- 5:45- Stall call against Parris - Steveson leads 6-2
- 6:40: Takedown Steveson - Steveson leads 8-3
- 6:50: Escape Parris - Steveson wins 8-4
First Big Ten Title: Steveson beats Mason Parris, 8-6
March 8, 2020 — Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, New Jersey
Heading into this 2020 match, both Steveson and Parris boasted undefeated records, with Steveson holding a 14-0 resume and Parris representing a 28-0 record. The stage was set for two of the best in the conference, and two of the best in the country, to go head to head. The last time Steveson was on this stage, he took a surprising loss to Anthony Cassar, but this time the match would go differently for the Gopher.
Match summary & recap:
Parris came out in the first period with aggression, hand-fighting tough and forcing the pace, but Steveson showed his strength quickly. Minnesota's sophomore fended off a quick shot from the Wolverine and scored the first points of the match with a two-point takedown within the first 70 seconds of the match. He went to work on top with a powerful mat return and picked up a little riding time before giving up the escape and setting himself up again in neutral. Steveson wasn't going to let Parris stay on his feet for too long though, and he scored his second takedown with just 25 seconds left in the first period to extend his lead 4-2 after Parris escaped again at the end of the period. Parris fought, working for his own shots and trying for a big move, but time ran out for him in the first.
GOPHER WINS GOLD: Learn more about how Gable Steveson won his second Big Ten title in 2021
Parris chose down to start the second period and picked up a quick escape. With both men back on their feet, the hand-fighting continued with Parris looking for some action but Steveson's defense was too much. The Gopher also decided, less than 30 seconds left in the second period, that he wanted to remind Parris of his trademark strength and sent him flying off the mat. While no points were awarded, the visual of the two big men moving with such speed and power showed the level of skill involved in this matchup.
Steveson started the third period and quickly picks up an escape to extend his lead before moving into a powerful shot that took Parris off his feet and sent him right into the scorer's table. Again, the move didn't result in any points, but he didn't need the points. Steveson was in control and picked up an easy two points just about a minute later on a smooth mat takedown. An escape from Parris made the score 8-4, and while the Steveson-takedown-Parris-escape pattern would clearly define the match, Parris persisted.
With less than ten seconds left, Parris went in on Steveson's leg and worked for a takedown of his own. Steveson escaped, but that fight from Parris can't be ignored.
- 1:09: Steveson earns a takedown - Steveson leads 2-0
- 1:32 Parris escapes - Steveson leads 2-1
- 2:35: Steveson picks up another takedown - Steveson leads 4-1
- 2:40: Parris escape again - Steveson leads 4-2
- 3:04 - Parris earns an early escape - Steveson leads 4-3
- 5:05 - Steveson escapes - He leads 5-3
- 6:05 - Steveson scores a smooth takedown - He leads 7-3
- 6:12 - Parris escapes for a fourth time - Steveson leads 8-4
- 6:50 - Parris earns his first takedown of the match - Steveson leads 7-6
- 6:54- Steveson escapes - Steveson wins 8-6
Fastest Pin: Steveson pins Connor Bower in 13 seconds
What can you do in 1️⃣3️⃣ seconds? @GSteveson can pin his opponent in 13 seconds. 😱@GopherWrestling | @trackwrestling pic.twitter.com/Z94qGTA87u— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) January 16, 2021
You don't need a scoring summary or breakdown for this one. On January 16, 2021, just a few weeks into the shortened COVID season, Steveson put on a show against the Maryland Terrapins. Connor Bower barely had time to prepare himself for a match against the No. 1 wrestler in the country before Steveson had him tied up and on his back. That the kind of speed and surprise that Steveson brings every time he steps on the mat.
NCAA Wrestlers in the Olympics
Gable Steveson isn't the only Olympic wrestler with collegiate ties. Read more about the other wrestling Olympians and how their college experience impacted their love for the sport.