Gable Steveson is known by many in the wrestling world not just for what he does during a competition, but also for what he does when he wins.
But fans of the now-Olympic wrestler won’t be able to see it unless he wins gold Friday.
“Should I gold medal match,” he told NBC Chicago. “I hope I get to that point. If I wrestle my best, I know I can get there. When and if I can win, put on a good show for America, that flip is coming.”
Steveson won his semifinal match against Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur of Mongolia 5-0 to advance to the final of the men’s freestyle 125kg wrestling event.
The Minnesota wrestling standout has yet to surrender a point at the Games, previously beating Kyrgyzstan Aiaal Lazarev 10-0 and Turkey’s Taha Akgul 8-0.
For Steveson, the dream of becoming an Olympian has already come faster than he ever anticipated, and he hopes to keep his streak going by winning a medal in Tokyo.
“As a young kid, growing up, everybody wants to make the Olympic Games, especially in the sport of wrestling,” the 21-year-old said. “For me to do it at such a young age and put myself on a bigger stage and to be able to rep the United States is something crazy. To be an Olympian is everything. To win a gold medal? That’s gonna be everything too.”
Steveson – who now attends University of Minnesota, but has ties to Portage, Indiana and Apple Valley, Minnesota – has made quite a mark in the wrestling community. So much so, many are wondering what’s next for the star athlete and now Olympian.
Rumors have surfaced he may join the WWE after the Tokyo Games, while others have questioned if he will finish out college at Minnesota.
Steveson has said a decision will made after the Olympics, but he did give his fans a hint.
“For me, staying in school will be a very nice thing,” he said. “Winning another national title for Minnoesta and solidifying myself as a great, and at the university is another big thing. But I don’t know. It’s all up in the air, there’s so many opportunities that have come about, but to come back to Minnesota one more time, winning again, be that person that people can come watch… it’s gonna be a wild decision. I love WWE, I love what they got and my time in there is going to come really soon and I hope to hold the belt with them for a very long time.”
While Steveson is creating his own path in wrestling, he’s also following a path that was started by others in his family. He credits his early success with learning from his older brother, and credited him as the reason he chose to go to University of Minnesota.
“[My brother Bobby] started the wave here. He was a top high school wrestler in the country with them coming out of high school at 195 pounds,” Steveson said. “Me and him would rumble back when we were younger. I would try to fight him on the wrestling mat so I’d get mad at him because he was a lot better than me… everybody having an older figure like that is a big deal, just because they’ve done it before and they can show you how to do it better and so he really showed me how to do it better.”
But it wasn’t just what he learned from his brother that got Steveson to this high point in his wrestling career.
The young athlete also said that the few losses he’s experienced have shaped him as an athlete.
“Losing is such a big deal, especially to me… very few losses on my resume and times that I have lost I’ve gained a lot from them,” he said. “Probably for me, losing a couple times my freshman year of college just pushed me in the right direction and showed that I’m not the best, that I’ve got a lot of potential and a lot of places to be. And I had to change a lot on who I am – what I was eating and sleeping and hanging out with – and just got locked in, got in the gym and stayed in the gym.”
Steveson said it was a lesson he hopes other athletes can learn too.
“I think that goes for a lot of young kids that take losses,” he said. “They need to see that they can be better after that loss and they can come back the next year and be better than they were before and that’s how the game goes. You’ve got to win some, you’ve got to lose some.”
But when it comes to Tokyo, “I plan on winning a lot.”
And win he has. Now, it all comes down to one final match.
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