Minnesota heavyweight Gable Steveson will look to do what no Gopher wrestler has ever done: bring home a gold medal
MINNEAPOLIS – Olympic wrestling is set to get underway at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as Minnesota heavyweight and 125kg U.S. Olympic Team member Gable Steveson looks to cap his first Olympic experience at the top step of the podium wearing the gold medal.
Wrestling competition will take place from Friday, July 31 to August 7 at Korakuen Hall on the Olympic campus, however Steveson will have to wait until Wednesday, August 4 until he is able to toe the line at center circle.
While Minnesota falls 14 hours behind Japan Standard Time (JST) in Tokyo, NBC and the Olympics will still have full coverage of all the action for those who want to follow along live
Below is a comprehensive schedule of all Olympic wrestling action throughout the course of the week, with Steveson’s competition times highlighted in bold.
**All times in Central Daylight Savings Time
Saturday, July 31
Greco-Roman 60kg and Women’s Freestyle 76kg (Prelims & Quarterfinals)
Sunday, August 1
Greco-Roman 60kg and Women’s Freestyle 76kg (Semifinals)
Greco-Roman 60kg and Women’s Freestyle 76kg (Repechage)
Greco-Roman 97kg and Women’s Freestyle 68kg (Prelims & Quarterfinals)
Monday, August 2
Greco-Roman 97kg and Women’s Freestyle 68kg (Semifinals)
Greco-Roman 60kg and Women’s Freestyle 76kg (Medal Matches)
Greco-Roman 97kg and Women’s Freestyle 68kg (Repechage)
Greco-Roman 67kg, Greco-Roman 87kg, and Women’s Freestyle 62kg (Prelims & Quarterfinals)
Tuesday, August 3
Greco-Roman 67kg, Greco-Roman 87kg, and Women’s Freestyle 62kg (Semifinals)
Greco-Roman 97kg and Women’s Freestyle 68kg (Medal Matches)
Greco-Roman 67kg, Greco-Roman 87kg, and Women’s Freestyle 62kg (Repechage)
Men’s Freestyle 57kg, Men’s Freestyle 86kg, and Women’s Freestyle 57kg (Prelims & Quarterfinals)
Wednesday, August 4
Men’s Freestyle 57kg, Men’s Freestyle 86kg, and Women’s Freestyle 57kg (Semifinals)
Greco-Roman 67kg, Greco-Roman 87kg, and Women’s Freestyle 62kg (Medal Matches)
Men’s Freestyle 57kg, Men’s Freestyle 86kg, and Women’s Freestyle 57kg (Repechage)
Men’s Freestyle 74kg, Men’s Freestyle 125kg, and Women’s Freestyle 53kg (Prelims & Quarterfinals)
Thursday, August 5
Men’s Freestyle 74kg, Men’s Freestyle 125kg, and Women’s Freestyle 53kg (Semifinals)
Men’s Freestyle 57kg, Men’s Freestyle 86kg, and Women’s Freestyle 57kg (Medal Matches)
Men’s Freestyle 74kg, Men’s Freestyle 125kg, and Women’s Freestyle 53kg (Repechage)
Men’s Freestyle 97kg and Women’s Freestyle 50kg (Prelims & Quarterfinals)
Friday, August 6
Men’s Freestyle 97kg and Women’s Freestyle 50kg (Semifinals)
Men’s Freestyle 74kg, Men’s Freestyle 125kg, and Women’s Freestyle 53kg (Medal Matches)
Saturday, August 7
Men’s Freestyle 97kg and Women’s Freestyle 50kg (Repechage & Medal Matches)
NBC will also replay all broadcasts across their various platforms to help suit local viewers, as a complete and comprehensive streaming schedule for both live and replay broadcasts can be found here.
THE START OF THE GABLE ERA
While his star power and his talent have been present throughout his career, 2021 will be remembered as the breakout year for Gable Steveson.
Collegiately, Steveson dominated in every match, earning himself a second Big Ten Championship, a long-awaited NCAA title, and the Dan Hodge Trophy, an award given to the most dominant wrestler in college wrestling.
However, aside from folkstyle, Gable made leaps and bounds on the freestyle scene as well. After a dominant performance against Trent Hillger at Beat The Streets, Steveson came into the RTC Cup with one man in mind: Nick Gwiazdowski.
Prior to this year, Gwiazdowski had defeated Steveson in a pair of matches at Final X in 2019, and was a two-time World bronze medalist. Steveson, along with the rest of the wrestling community, knew that Gwiazdowski was the man standing between him and an Olympic Team spot, and when the RTC Cup came around in December, Steveson got the best of the NC State alumnus in their first meeting since those previous losses, winning by a score of 4-1.
With a growing confidence and the most recent victory against his foe, Steveson was in the driver’s seat heading into the U.S Olympic Trials where he would meet Gwiazdowski once again in the finals. This time he rolled against Gwiazdowski, sweeping the best-of-three series with victories by a score of 10-0 and 12-4 respectively and punching his ticket to Tokyo.
With his spot on the Olympic Trials secured, Steveson dominated in his most recent performance at the Pan American Games in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The Apple Valley, Minn., outscored his opponents 50-0 in five matches en route to a Pan American gold, setting the stage for his first Olympic Games.
DETHRONING THE KINGS – A LOOK AT THE FIELD
If Gable plans on coming home with the gold medal, he will most likely have to go through Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili or Turkey’s Taha Akgul, if not both. Since 2014, nobody has won a World or Olympic gold medal besides those two men.
Petriashvili is the three-time reigning world champion dating back to 2017, winning his first World title in 2017 and defeating Akgul in both the 2017 and 2019 World Finals. The Georgian also owns two World bronze medals from 2013 and 2015, as well as the 2016 Olympic bronze.
Akgul is the reigning Olympic gold medalist and also holds the most recent victory over Petriashvili after defeating him 6-1 at the 2021 European Championships. At the World Championships, the Turkish heavyweight has collected an impressive set of hardware, with two golds, two silvers, and a bronze, with his most recent World championship coming in 2016.
Between the two wrestling giants, Taha Akgul holds a 6-2 series lead over Petriashvili dating back to 2013.
Looking at the rest of the field, other contenders include Yusep Batirmurzaev (Kazakhstan), Amir Hossein Zane (Iran), Oleksandr Khotsianivksi (Ukraine), and Zhiwei Deng (China).
Entering Steveson into the fold, Gable comes in with less Senior-level experience than some of his opposition, however his international resume at lower age levels is impressive nonetheless, with two Cadet World championships, as well as Junior World gold and silver medals which he earned in 2017 and 2018. Steveson only has one prior match against anybody in the 125kg Olympic draw, when he defeated Mongolian qualifier Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur at the 2018 Junior World Championships.
A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
When Gable steps foot on the mat to compete next week, he will have the opportunity to do what no former Gopher olympian has ever done, which is to bring home a gold medal.
Steveson is the 11th Olympian in program history, and the first since Jake Deichtler competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2012. Garrett Lowney was the Gophers’ most recent Olympic medalist when he won the 97kg Greco-Roman bronze in 2000.
Minnesota’s closest opportunity to an Olympic gold came in 1996 when Brandon Paulson brought home the silver medal, winning his first three Olympic matches before ultimately falling to Armenia’s Armen Nazaryan in the finals.
When speaking on Gable’s preparation towards the Summer Games, head coach Brandon Eggum said that he believes that Steveson has done enough to bring home the gold.
“We’re really excited for him to have the opportunity to represent the University of Minnesota and Team USA”, Eggum said. “He’s worked really hard and is in a great spot with his preparation. Obviously, his goal is to go over there and bring back the gold, and in four weeks, we believe that we are going to crown an Olympic champion.”
We are sure to find out soon enough.