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Tokyo Olympics wrestling in review: USA flips the script, tops medal table

USA's Gable Steveson celebrates the gold medal after the men's freestyle 125kg wrestling competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
USA's Gable Steveson celebrates the gold medal after the men's freestyle 125kg wrestling competition at the Tokyo Olympics. (2021 Getty Images)

Team USA topped its best medal haul of this century, previously seven in 2000, by claiming nine wrestling medals in Tokyo.

That’s more than any other nation and frankly the total could’ve easily been higher.

In fact, you’d have to go back to 1984 to find an Olympics with more shiny things going home with American wrestlers.

Greco-Roman was a wash, making the freestyle performance from the American men and women wrestlers all the more impressive.

Seven of the aforementioned wrestlers are first-time medalists, the exceptions being Helen Maroulis and Kyle Snyder who added to golds from Rio with a bronze and silver, respectively.

Women's wrestling

It was fitting that Susaki Yui wrapped up Japan’s wonderful wrestling Olympics as hosts as the nation’s fifth gold pushed them back ROC and Susaki’s gold meant she went wire-to-wire in the spotlight after being one of Japan’s flagbearers in the Opening Ceremonies.

Yet it wasn’t even the best story for Japanese women wrestlers, as sisters Kawai Yukako and Kawai Risako won gold 24 hours apart down to the minute. Mayu Mukaida rounded our Japan’s four golds on the women’s side.

The American women won four medals, the lone gold coming in the 68kg class where Tamyra Mensah-Stock beat Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu.

Maroulis and Sarah Hildebrandt won bronze, while Adeline Gray mused, “Isn’t it pretty?” about her silver after finally getting a medal. She also lamented her inability to claim gold, but the five-time world champion can rest easy after a fine showing.

SEE MORE: Adeline Gray talks about winning silver in women's freestyle

Men's wrestling

While Gable Steveson’s dramatic last-second win and back-flipping celebration will live long in memories, it was the athletes from the Russian Olympic Committee who rolled through men’s freestyle.

Zavur Uguev (57kg), Zaurbek Sidakov (74kg), and Abdulrashid Sadulaev (97kg) all won gold and two other ROC wrestlers won bronze to lead all nations.

Snyder’s bid to help the Americans sweep the three heaviest weight classes was subdued by Sadulaev, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise amongst Team USA.

That goes to another Kyle. Kyle Dake upset defending gold medalist Jordan Burroughs to make it to Tokyo but then needed the repechage to charge back and win bronze.

David Taylor joined Steveson in claiming gold, the 21-year-old Stevenson capturing the imaginations when he came back with less than two seconds to go and claimed the winning points over Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili.

Sixteen different nations won a medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. Consider there were only 24 given out, that’s pretty diverse.

Cuba claimed two golds through Luis Orta and Mijain Lopez, while Hungary and Ukraine each claimed a gold and a silver.

SEE MORE: Sadulaev defeats Snyder in wrestling showdown; Hildebrandt snags bronze

Wrestling medal table (from Olympics.com)

2020 Olympics wrestling medal table

Olympics.com