In September, 2015, Steve Snyder was pensive as he headed to a celebratory dinner with family. Still a little stunned by what his 19 year old son had just accomplished, he could not help but fret for the future.
As a newly crowned World Wrestling Champion in Las Vegas, Kyle Snyder now faced the pressure that comes with a title in a year long run up to the Olympics, and dad Steve knew it. With more dread than joy in his voice, Steve concluded, “we all have to process what this is about.”
The year that followed was eventful: a convincing loss to menacing Russian Anzor Boltukaev in January preceded a joyous NCAA triumph in Madison Square Garden. Then a comeback win against reigning Olympic champ Jake Varner in the Olympic Trials preceded a close loss in Germany to Khetag Gazyumov, the man Snyder has just vanquished in the biggest match of Snyder’s young life.
In becoming the youngest Olympic champ in American history (besting Henry Cejudo by a few months), Snyder showed the same things that has propelled his success: the ability to experiment and learn from defeat, the ability to out process an opponent’s thinking in the heat of battle and a motor that just never stops as those of opponents sputter.
The bout with Gazyumov was tense, power packed and strategic. No takedown was earned, yet Snyder struck when he could, resulting in a first point pushout, and backed out of danger when the single leg was not there. Kyle took heed of a warning, avoided the shot clock and earned the Olympic winner by putting his opponent on the clock.
The action was furious and maddening as the seconds ticked away. Everyone panicked except a 20 year old from Woodbine, MD.
It has been a wild year for Kyle Snyder–the highs were epically high. The lows were few and far between, almost like whispers of doubt and dread. But while they caused anxiety among critics and those close to Kyle, the champ himself never let them factor into his focus on the mission.
Steve, the wait and weight are done and gone. Rest easy. Lightly lies the crown.