USA Wrestling makes statement, leads way with 9 medals

CHIBA, Japan (AP) — Kyle Snyder didn’t get the second straight Olympic gold he sought.

However, United States wrestling still made a statement at these Games.

The Russian Olympic Committee’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev defeated Snyder 6-3 in the men’s freestyle 97-kilogram final on Saturday.

Despite that, the United States finished with nine medals — more than any other nation and the most it has won since the 1984 Games that several nations, led by the Soviet Union, boycotted.

Three Americans won gold — Gable Steveson and David Taylor with dramatic last-second victories for the men and Tamyra Mensah-Stock for the women.

All five U.S. men’s freestyle qualifiers won medals. In addition to Steveson, Taylor and Snyder earning medals, Kyle Dake and Thomas Gilman took home bronze.

“Guys are getting better and better,” Snyder said. “Everybody is doing the right stuff. We have great coaches, support staff and training environments. I’m really happy for all my teammates who did a great job here, and all the coaches because they work so hard. I think we’re going to dominate and keep getting better.”

American Sarah Hildebrandt earned bronze on Saturday, the fourth medal for the U.S. women at these Games. In addition to Mensah-Stock’s gold, Adeline Gray took silver and Helen Maroulis followed up her gold from 2016 with a bronze.

“Team USA — what a special time to be a part of it,” Hildebrandt said. “We are just growing up, we’re supporting each other. You can just feel the energy intermixed between (men’s and women’s) teams.

“It’s just really cool to be a part of, and I’m so grateful to have these teammates. I really feel like we are out there supporting each other and working to get better. And I think that’s something that’s been different than before. And you can see it starting to pay off.”

A win by Snyder would have been a high-profile victory. Sadulaev was the gold medalist at 86kg in 2016 and is a four-time world champion, while Snyder was the Olympic gold medalist at 97kg in 2016 and is a two-time world champion.

Sadulaev led Snyder 6-0 in the final minute. Snyder scored two on a takedown and one on a step-out to make it 6-3 before Sadulaev held on.

“It was more difficult to defend than conquer, so it was much more difficult this time,” Sadulaev said.

Sadulaev joined Zaur Uguev and Zaurbek Sidakov as men’s freestyle gold medalists from the Russian Olympic Committee.

Cuba’s Reineris Salas defeated Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov for bronze at men’s freestyle 97kg class. Salas, 34, had never won a world title or an Olympic medal. Sharifov, 32, won Olympic gold in the 84kg category in 2012 and earned bronze at 86kg in 2016. In the other bronze medal match, Italy’s Abraham Canyedo Ruano defeated Turkey’s Suleyman Karadeniz 6-2.

Japan’s Yui Susaki defeated China’s Yanan Sun by technical superiority, 10-0, to win the women’s freestyle 50kg final.

Susaki, 22, joined Mayu Mukaida and sisters Risako and Yukako Kawai as Japan’s women’s gold medalists.

Azerbaijan’s Mariya Stadnik won her fourth Olympic medal. She won her match for bronze at 50kg by technical superiority, 10-0 over Mongolia’s Namuuntsetseg Tsogt Ochir. She previously had won two silvers and a bronze.

The United States’ Hildebrand defeated Ukraine’s Oksana Livach by technical superiority, 12-1, for the other bronze.

Japan’s Takuto Otoguro defeated Azerbaijan’s Haji Aliyev 5-4 to win the men’s freestyle wrestling 65kg final.

Otoguro’s best result had been a world title in 2018. Aliyev was a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist at 57kg and a three-time world champion.

Bronze medalists were the Russian Olympic Committee’s Gadzhimurad Rashidov and India’s Bajrang Punia.

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.

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More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports.

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