Aug. 4, 2021: Minnesota’s own and 2021 NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion Gable Steveson officially begins his pursuit of a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics Wednesday night.
–> Follow @Tony Liebert on Twitter
Gophers’ heavyweight wrestler Gable Steveson officially begins his pursuit of a gold medal in the men’s freestyle 125kg (275 pounds) event at the Tokyo Olympics. Tonight at 9:00 P.M. (CT) Steveson will be the 11th in program history to compete at the Olympics and will look to become the first to earn an Olympic gold medal.
**Steveson will be competing in the freestyle wrestling event and not Greco-Roman. The main difference between the two is Greco-Roman wrestlers use only their arms and upper bodies and are not allowed to attack below the waist, whereas freestyle wrestlers may use their legs to execute holds and can attack opponents above and below the waist.
Steveson will begin his campaign against Aiaal Lazarev of Kyrgyzstan at approximately 10:05 p.m. (CT). The rest of the quarterfinal matches in the 125kg weight class will happen during the 9-11:30 p.m. window.
Wednesday, Aug. 4
- 9-11:30 p.m. (CT) – prelims & quarterfinals
Thursday, Aug. 5
- 4:15-8:00 a.m. (CT) – semifinals
- 9-11:30 p.m. (CT) – repechage (playback tournament)
Friday, Aug. 6
- 4:15-8:00 a.m. (CT) – medal matches
**Repechage is easiest explained as a different form of a loser’s bracket, but instead of playing back into the gold medal match, the wrestlers will play for a second bronze medal, (better explained here) hopefully Gable won’t be there.
There are 16 wrestlers competing in the 125kg men’s freestyle event. Gable Steveson is viewed by many as the No. 3 favorite in the event. Heavyweight wrestling has been dominated by two men in recent competitions. Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili (27 years old) and Turkey’s Taha Akgul (30 years old) have won every heavyweight world or Olympic title since 2014. Geno Petriashvili won the 2017, 2018 and 2019 world championships and he is the odds on favorite and No. 1 seed, but took the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio games. The gold medal five years ago went to Akgul after winning the world championships in 2014 and 2015, he’s lost the last two world title gold medal bouts to Petriashvili. The odds will tell you that this is a three-man race as all three of Petriashvili, Akgul and Steveson have odds shorter than +200 on my sites, and the next closest is as high as +900.
Steveson is entering the Olympics after knocking off two-time world bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski in the Olympic Trials. At only 21 years old Gable has very little experience competing against much of the field with his only match coming when he defeated Mongolian Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur at the 2018 Junior World Championships.
Gable obviously comes into this event as the new kid on the block hoping to knock off the elder statesmen. I am going to be honest I have never watched Petriashvili or Akgul wrestle, but they have to be pretty damn good to be favored over Gable. I believe the fact that he has not wrestled either man is honestly an advantage to Steveson as the younger more athletic wrestler; giving the veterans nothing to base their gameplan on other than film. Most people believe this to be a three-man race and I see no reason why a man with two Cadet World championships, a Junior World’s gold and silver medal on top of an NCAA Championship can’t come home with a gold medal around his neck.