Already an NCAA champion, Ohio State's Kyle Snyder is aiming for Olympic gold
USA wrestler Kyle Snyder is a man of many titles. This past year, Snyder added 2016 NCAA champion to his list to go along with his 2015 World title, U.S. Open championship and Pan Am Games championship.
Now, the junior heavyweight from the Ohio State University is looking to add another accomplishment to his growing list of accolades—Olympic gold medalist.
Snyder is a tactician, a wrestler that plans every move and executes each one with precision. His technique is something that he takes ultimate pride in.
The 20-year-old freestyle wrestler has been grinding in the gym every day, training with a core group of wrestlers that includes team USA's 125-kilogram wrestler Tervel Dlagnev and his former collegiate nemesis Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State, whom Snyder defeated at Madison Square Garden to claim the NCAA heavyweight title.
The defending world champ knows he's a favorite to at least medal at the Rio Olympics, and dealing with that pressure is something he's become accustomed to while wrestling for the Buckeyes. But the Woodbine, Maryland native said he knows he's scratching the surface on what his career could potentially become.
"Well I just feel like there is so much more that I haven't done yet in the sport," Snyder said. "Even if I win the 2016 Olympics, I still know that I'm going to be extremely motivated because my goal is to master the sport of wrestling."
Gwiazdowski, another heavyweight standout and Snyder's main collegiate rival, has joined forces with Snyder to train.
"He's here training, helping, learning with me," Snyder said. "He's a great guy, we've always been good friends. It was definitely a little different when we were competing against each other … but [wrestling] means a lot to us. I definitely respect him and want to be his friend."
Snyder said surrounding himself with a group of Olympic experienced wrestlers is a key advantage that is helping to keep him motivated toward reaching his goal.
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To do so, "Snyder-man," will have to be amazing for the red, white and blue come August 21, when his first match is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro.
Having his competition scouted, Snyder is pushing harder than he ever has in order to be ready for the Games. He trains twice a day, often spending three to four hours in the wrestling room in the morning and lifts in the afternoons. Some days he returns for a third workout, which is composed of swimming and stretching.
Snyder plans bring his family with his to Brazil, and has set up a
GoFundMe account to assist with the travel costs. Since Snyder is still a collegiate athlete, he can't accept any money from his Olympic journey, but the GoFundMe is a loophole he plans to exploit to get his family to Rio.
"For them to be able to come and watch me compete and just be a part of it is going to be extremely special," Snyder said. "Any support that somebody could give to help them come and help bring the cost down a little bit, I'd just be extremely grateful for it. There's nobody than I'd rather celebrate with than them."
Snyder is nearly 75% of the way to his goal of $20,000.
Snyder said he feels honored to be able to represent the USA and feels a sense of pride like no other he's ever experienced. And Snyder, who has done nothing but win since his high school days, said he is looking forward to his chance to cement himself as one of the best wrestlers to walk on the planet.
"Not a doubt about," Snyder said. "I'm ready. I'll be more ready August 21 than I am now, but I'm doing everything that I can. I'm doing more than I ever have. This is an opportunity that doesn't come often. And there's no doubt about it, I will be ready when I step out on the mat."
Tino Bovenzi is SI's campus correspondent for Ohio State University. Follow him on Twitter.