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Gophers Olympic Updates: Gable’s Quest For Gold Begins Tonight!

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It’s not the easiest draw for the reigning NCAA Champion

U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Wrestling Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The second week of the 2020 Summer Olympic games are here and we have reached one of the most anticipated events for Minnesota Gophers fans—the 125 KG freestyle wrestling event. Of course we all know that representing the US will be Gopher wrestler and defending NCAA Champion Gable Steveson. He will hit the mat approximately 10:00 PM Central time on Wednesday for the first time in the Round of 16.

The Olympic draw was announced early in the day on Wednesday and while it’s not the absolute toughest road for Steveson, it won’t be easy either. Gable will open his Olympic competition against Aiaal Lazarev from Kyrgyzstan. Lazerev won the silver medal at the 2021 Asian Championships, but it is a good match up for Steveson who if he does what everyone knows he is capable of should win fairly easily. Then things take a significant step up in toughness.

Gable’s quarterfinal matchup which will most likely take place about 10:30-10:45 would most likely be against the #2 seed and reigning Olympic champion and 2X World champion Taha Akgul of Turkey. If Gable can get past Akgul, which will be a very hard task, his chances at a medal are incredibly promising.

Next up would be a semifinal bout at approximately 4:30 AM where he would most likely face the #4 seed Dzianis Khramiankou of Belarus who while being the fourth seeded wrestler should be less of a task than either Akgul or whomever Steveson would see in the gold medal match should he make it there—most likely #1 seed Geno Petriashvili of Georgia a three-time World Champion and the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.

If Steveson drops a match in either the round of 16 or quarterfinals, he still could have a chance at a bronze medal if the wrestler who defeated him moves onto the gold medal match. If so, Steveson would enter back into the competition through the repechage where the losers of the matches to the two gold medal final wrestlers face one another to advance to compete against the semifinal losers for a bronze medal. Two bronze medals will be handed out in this competition.

All wrestling action can be watched on the Olympic Channel and streamed via NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App.

The full bracket of the 125 KG wrestling division is below:

The Ninth and final Gopher athlete to compete in Tokyo will also see his initial action tonight. Kion Benjamin will run one of the legs of the men’s 4x100 meter relay for his home country of Trinidad and Tobago. The heats of the 4x100 will kick off at 9:30 PM central time. It will be an uphill climb for T&T to make the finals later in the week as they come in with the slowest qualifying time out of the 16 nations in the field. The top three teams in each heat and the next two fastest times will qualify for Friday morning’s final.

Two other Gophers saw their Olympics come to a quick end earlier this week. Barbora Spotakova still holds the world record in the women’s javelin throw, but her time in the sport is winding down. Spotakova finished in 14th place out of 29 athletes with a throw of 60.42 meters, but it would be 0.42 meters short of earning her 12th position and a spot in Friday’s final.

Gopher alum Kyra Condie competed early Wednesday in the women’s sport climbing combined prelims. She would finish in 7th place in the speed portion of the competition, 11th place in the bouldering portion and 11th place in the lead climbing portion of the competition. Her combined score left her in 11th place, three spots out of the top 8 who qualified for Thursday’s final.

Congrats to all our Gopher Olympians who have competed so far and good luck to Gable and Kion as they try and keep their Olympic dreams alive tonight!