Heading into the 125 KG wrestling competition Wednesday night most Minnesota Gophers fans had high hopes for Gable Steveson. But I don’t think anyone had as high of hopes for what Steveson did on Wednesday night and Thursday morning US time. Steveson went 3-0 in his first three matches, outscored his opponents 22-0, knocked out the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, and guaranteed the Gophers their third medal of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Gable Steveson will get to determine whether that medal color is gold or silver when he faces the #1 seed, Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili at just after 6:00 AM Friday morning in the gold medal match.
Steveson began his tournament by facing off against Kyrgyzstan’s Aiaal Lazarev. It didn’t last long. Just like when Steveson ran through the US Trials defeating opponents before they even know what was going in, he did the same to Lazarev earning a 10-0 technical fall in just 2:02.
Just thirty minutes later, Steveson had what all thought would be a much tougher task in #3 overall seed Taha Akgul of Turkey. Akgul was the gold medal winner in the 2016 Olympics, is the two-time defending European Champion, took home second place in the 2019 World Championships and was claimed to be an all around badass. Gable once again shut that down in a hurry. The first period was more of a feeling out period, but Steveson got one takedown to have a 2-0 lead at the break. That 30 second to regroup was all Gable needed as he earned three more takedowns in the second period and would ensure there would be a new Olympic champion this time around with a 8-0 win. We even got to see a little bit of cocky Gable come back out as he was feeling good as his big win winded down.
Later in the day on Thursday this tweet from Steveson was found....mission accomplished sir.
Taha Akgul is a crazy good wrestler. I hope he keeps wrestling so I can one day meet him in a matchup!— Gable Steveson (@GableSteveson) August 20, 2016
Steveson moved to the semifinal where he would face Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur of Mongolia. So far he would give Gable his toughest match of the tournament. Once again the early going in the first period was a feeling out time, both wrestlers taking some chances and both wrestlers successfully defending any attacks. About halfway through the first period Gable found an opening and got his first takedown to have a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period. Early in the second the Mongolian was put on the 30 second clock for passivity and Gable would not let him score a point and get off the clock. Thus after 30 second s Gable was awarded a point and went up 3-0. It remained like this for most of the rest of the match before Gable sealed his trip to the gold medal final with one last takedown with about 15 seconds left in the match. It would be a 5-0 win and Gable will have his chance at gold.
So Friday morning only one man stands in the way of Gable getting his gold medal. But what a man it is. Geno Petriashvili is the #1 seed in this tournament. He is the bronze medal winner from the Rio Olympics in 2016, and has won three straight world championships from 2017-2019. Petriashvili almost didn’t make it to the gold medal final as he fell behind Amir Zare of Iran 3-0 after the first period. But the veteran figured things out in the second period and earned three takedowns of the young Iranian to get back to the top of the wresting world.
Steveson and Petriashvili. Only one man can win gold. We will get a chance to see who can summon the strength and metal toughness to earn that top spot early Friday morning.
The match can be viewed live on the Olympic Channel. You can also stream it live on NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports App.
Good Luck Gable! Bring home the gold!!