That. Just. Happened. In what is already being branded as the Miracle on the Mat, Gable Steveson came from three points behind to score a pair of takedowns in the last 6.5 seconds of the gold medal match including the winning maneuver with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to earn a 10-8 victory and the Olympic 125 kg freestyle wrestling Olympic Gold medal. Gable Steveson is an Olympic Champion.
Steveson’s foe in the gold medal match was Geno Petriashvili from Georgia. He was the bronze medalist in Rio in 2016 and is the three time defending world champion. He would not make thing easy for Gable, and as the match progressed in the second period it looked like the wily veteran had turned the tables on the young stud.
The match started much like Gable’s semifinal in that neither wrestler made a move quickly. Halfway through the opening period Petriashvili was put on the passivity clock and when he didn’t score in the 30 second allotted time, Steveson was awarded a point. Gable would follow that up with a takedown and jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Right before the end of the period Petriashvili had Gable by the leg and nearly got a takedown, but Gable escaped and slammed the giant Georgian to the mat out of the ring and got one point for a pushout. After the first period Gable held a 4-0 lead.
While the excitement was there for the early performance, Gable had to be ready for the inevitable counter attack by Petriashvili. He was down 3-0 after the first period in his semifinal and came back to win. He knew what he was doing, and when he got his opportunity to take a chance he took it. Petriashvili got a quick takedown to cut Gable’s lead to 4-2, but Steveson earned a reversal and an escape to gain one point back and make it 5-2. With 90 seconds left in the match, the veteran seemed to have his opponent figured out. Petriashvili in about 10 seconds made his move firing off a single leg attack and clasping a body lock around Steveson’s hips, rolling him twice to suddenly shift the match to 8-5 in Petriashvili’s favor. It looked like Gable’s dreams of gold were dead.
Not so fast. Petriashvili took low shots at Gable to slow him down and try and ice the match. The referee put them back on their feet with 13 seconds left and Gable needing a pair of takedowns to win. He got one on a quick attack with 6.5 seconds left to cut the lead to 8-7. For his last gasp as the time trickled down, Steveson fainted towards a single leg, and pushed Petriashvili off-balance. Gable struggled to get around him and grab his waist to get the takedown and he powered through and achieved the move as the horn sounded. Gable knew he got it in time and in what will go down as an iconic image reminiscent of another gopher athlete in the game’s biggest stage he put up two fingers to make sure the referee knew that he knew he got the move down in time.
The referee awarded him the two points and Gable’s celebration was on as he leaped into the air and ran over to his coach and Minnesota head coach Brandon Paulson to celebrate. Petriashvili put in a last ditch challenge for video review claiming that Steveson’s last move came after the horn and should not count, but upon review it showed Gable got him takedown with 0.2 seconds left on the clock....and Gable was a gold medal winner.
Here is the video of the insane finish of the match:
And of course what happens after Gable wins? Oh yeah the backflip definitely made the trip to Japan too!
Meanwhile, Gable’s family and friends along with some of the Gopher wrestling team watched the final live from the U. Here is their reaction to seeing Gable win gold.
Steveson becomes the first ever Minnesota Gophers wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal. He is just the second ever US heavyweight to win gold at the Olympics. He had to run through the best and beat the best and now he is the best.
So what is next for Gable? Will he return to the U for one final season and try and win back to back NCAA Championships? Will he leave school early and sign a huge deal with WWE? Only time will tell. But we do know one thing. He made the State of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota damn proud. Congrats Gable!!