Ohio State junior wrestler Kyle Snyder has already become one of coach Tom Ryan’s and the school’s most decorated wrestlers of all time. He has a record of 41-4 in NCAA competition including two finals appearances, All-American recognition in 2014-15, a 2016 NCAA championship and he was the youngest world champion in USA wrestling history in 2015.
But there is still one accomplishment the 20-year-old has yet to meet; Olympic gold. On Aug. 5, Snyder will join his fellow Americans in Rio de Janeiro for the XXXI Olympiad.
Snyder won the 97-kg freestyle weight class at the Olympic Trials over 2012 gold medal winner Jake Varner to clinch a spot on team USA, giving him a place in his weight class in Rio. After winning the world championships in Las Vegas in September, Snyder told the media on Tuesday that he feels confident, and he understands that wrestlers will begin to prepare for him more.
“Some of the guys have wrestled me a little bit differently,” Snyder said. “They know my moves and they are more prepared for a match that I’m going to wrestle. It just takes time for me to adjust and improve as well. They get a little better, I get a little better. Hopefully by the end of the day, I’ll be the one that can compete well.”
He competed in Grand Prix of Germany tournament from July 1 to 3 competing against top Olympic talent. Snyder said he faced three wrestlers in the top 20 in the world who will be in his bracket in Rio.
He took bronze in Germany amongst five of his fellow USA Olympians.
Up until his departure for the Olympics, Snyder’s training has been quite similar to that of his regimen for the NCAA championships. He lifts Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. He then wrestles on Tuesday and Thursday mornings with his training partner Tervel Dlagnev, who qualified for the Olympics by winning the 125-kg freestyle at the trials.
Snyder said that the only difference from collegiate competition to training for the Olympics is that there is more focus on he and Dlagnev because coaches are only required to put their energy into two wrestlers instead of the 10 that make up a collegiate roster.
Snyder said he has either wrestled against or seen film of every possible competitor at least a couple times. He does not compete until the final day, Aug. 21, in Rio, but said that at least it gives him a little time to enjoy the process of being an Olympian.
Snyder said that he still gets butterflies from time to time, but he will enjoy the pressure that comes with being an Olympian.
“I love it,” Snyder said about competing on the final day. “End it with a bang, hopefully. It will be the last thing people remember.”
As excited as Snyder may be, OSU coach Ryan could speak for hours about his first wrestler to compete in the Olympic games. Ryan has spent 22 years as a coach and is “excited as heck” to cheer on Snyder in Rio alongside his family.
“It shows the uniqueness of Kyle and the deep desire he has to be elite,” Ryan said. “These are the things we dream about as little kids. I’m looking forward to watching Kyle represent himself the way I know he will.”
When Snyder wears the USA logo across his singlet next month, he said representing OSU will be on his mind.
“There have been a lot of great athletes at Ohio State,” Snyder said. “I’m very proud to represent Ohio State and I feel like other than serving in the military, being an Olympian is the next best way to represent your country.”