Olympic wrestling star Gable Steveson: “Never give up, your life can change in a second” | Wrestling

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Olympic Games | The Guardian

It’s been more than a week since he conjured up one of the indelible moments of the Tokyo Olympics from nowhere, and the reality is still no closer for Gable Steveson.

It’s not just that Steveson messed up chances of becoming America’s first heavyweight gold medalist in freestyle wrestling since 1992 by beating three-time Georgia world champion Geno Petriashvili in the 125kg final. This is how the 21-year-old Minnesotan did it: three points behind, just 10 seconds behind, then two late takedowns, the second after the time runs out to dramatically transform an 8-5 deficit into a 10-8 win that will go down in Olympic wrestling lore.

“You are probably asking how I did it in 13 seconds and I really can’t tell you how I did it,” Steveson told the Guardian last week, optimistically. “It was just pure heart and determination, but it hasn’t arrived yet. It’s crazy. The best advice I can give to anyone after (Tokyo) is never to give up because your life can change in a second. “

Steveson’s run for the gold medal in the Makuhari Messe congress hall, which also included the 8-0 dismantling of the 2016 Olympic champion, Taha Akgül from Turkey in the quarter-finals, was only his second international senior tournament. And his last-second win in the final was the icing on the cake for an American wrestling team that brought home a total of nine Olympic medals from Japan (three gold, two silver, four bronze) – most from any non-host nation in History – after only 11 medals together at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 games.

Steveson landed at Minneapolis-St. Then he drove straight to Raising Canes chicken restaurant in the Twin Cities suburb of Apple Valley, where he grew up refining a beloved caniac combo: six chicken fingers with extra sauce, crinkle-cut fries and Texas toast, hold the coleslaw.

“People see me as an inspiration now,” said Steveson. “They look at me like the American hero who brought the United States a gold medal and brought pride back to my state of Minnesota and also to the University of Minnesota. It is definitely a life changing experience and I will understand everything and then do good with it. “

His success on the mat was apparently predetermined. Steveson was born into a wrestling family and was named after Dan Gable, the two-time national wrestler champion from the state of Iowa, who won gold in the 68 kg category at the 1972 Munich Olympics. From a young age he showed promise and collected the tricks of the trade in hours of training with his brothers: “I was always younger than them, so they usually beat me up. But it’s cool to have brothers who did it before you so they can teach you how to do better. “

Steveson gableGable Steveson from the USA celebrates his victory over the three-time world champion Geno Petriashvili from Georgia in the 125 kg final at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Steveson accepted a scholarship to apply for the University of Minnesota under the famous NCAA wrestling programs of the Big Ten Conference, where the bigger house routinely draws crowds of 10,000 or more. There he combined the raw strength of a traditional heavyweight with a speed and agility that is unusual for his 6ft 1in, 260lbs frame. In March, he crowned an unbeaten junior season for the Golden Gophers by following in the footsteps of his mentor Brock Lesnar and winning an NCAA heavyweight championship, underscoring the win with the same backflip as he did in Tokyo.

“I just have no idea where it came from,” said Steveson when asked about his showmanship. “I was always too confident in a way. I just always had that charisma of going out there and doing a show. Why should I go to a big tournament and millions of people are watching me and I give half the effort? I will always give 100%. I’m going to go out there and give you emotions and give you a back flip. People remember it. People remember a show. People will remember a winner. And that’s what I wanted to be. “

“There are a lot of people I admire, but I like The Rock. He did everything. Everyone knows The Rock, you know He did what I want to do. I want to be in the film just like him. I want to be the character that people look up to and say, ‘Oh, he’s a great person. We want to watch him do his thing. ‘ I want to be that too. “

Steveson has returned to Apple Valley with no shortage of opportunities. Despite officially declining an automatic bid for the upcoming World Championships in Norway, he left the door open in defense of his Olympic title in Paris 2024 and played a bit of football. He’s also made a move into World Wrestling Entertainment – his brother Bobby is already part of the company’s talent development pipeline at its Orlando Performance Center – and will appear on WWE’s SummerSlam pay-per-view show in Las Vegas on Saturday. There’s also the mixed martial arts circuit, which both the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator have shown interest in.

“All roads are very attractive to me,” said Steveson. “I will consider all of my options. Another gold medal would add to the legacy I have already created. I was approached by UFC, I was approached by WWE. I’ve also been approached by some NFL teams. It’s crazy to see these doors open and I’ll make the best decision. Do i know what i’m gonna do now I have no idea.”

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