Sadulaev defeats Snyder in wrestling showdown; Hildebrandt snags bronze

Posted at 6:11 AM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-07 08:27:59-04

BRACKET (men's 97kg)

Defending gold medalist Kyle Snyder was unable to get much going against arch-rival Abdulrashid Sadulaev of the ROC in the 97kg freestyle gold medal bout on Saturday, as the 2016 gold medalist at a lower weight class earned a 6-3 decision in the much-anticipated showdown between two wrestling greats who had each defeated the other once.

After a cautious start for both wrestlers, Snyder was put on the "shot clock" -- 30 seconds to score. He wasn't able to do that, and Sadulaev managed to push him out of the rings soon afterwards for another point and a 2-0 lead after the first period.

The second period started badly for Snyder, as Sadulaev got a good grip around the American and exposed his back long enough to get two points.

Snyder drove for Sadulaev's ankle, but the Russian turned things around and was credited with the takedown for a 6-0 lead.

Finally, Snyder got Sadulaev's back and dragged him down for two points. He quickly realized he would not be able to turn Sadulaev for any more points and got back up.

With 30 seconds left, Snyder pushed Sadulaev out for another point. But Sadulaev defended well, knowing Snyder needed either a four-point throw or a takedown and multiple exposures on the mat to make up the deficit. Snyder was able to do neither, and Sadulaev took the 6-3 win.

Sadulaev, the 2016 gold medalist at 86kg, hadn't lost since the 2017 world championship 97kg final, when lost to Snyder. He pinned Snyder in the 2018 world championship final and defended the title in 2019.

Hildebrandt takes bronze

BRACKET (women's 50kg)

After a heartbreaking defeat in the 50kg semifinals on Friday, Sarah Hildebrandt left no doubt in Saturday's bronze medal bout, defeating Ukraine's Oksana Livach by superiority, stopping the bout early by taking a 12-1 lead.

The first period saw both wrestlers warned for passivity, with Hildebrandt the one who gave up a point after being put on the "shot clock." After giving up a last-second score in losing her semifinal, she beat the buzzer herself just before the first-period ended, managing to get Livach's leg and taking her back for a 2-1 lead.

Hildebrandt used the "best defense is a strong offense" strategy in the second period, keeping Livach on her back foot. Needing to change things up, Livach shot rashly for Hildebrandt's legs and wound up underneath the American, who took a 4-1 lead.

The ending was emphatic. Hildebrandt got Livach down, took a second to arrange the Ukranian's legs, then started rolling. Two points for the takedown, making it 6-1. One roll for two more points. Then another. Then another. Hildebrandt looked like she wanted to keep going until being reminded that she had clinched the match and the bronze medal.

Hildebrandt had her semifinal bout all but won before China's Sun Yanan chipped away at her lead and scored a last-second four-point throw. 

On Friday, Hildebrandt looked stunned and distraught on the mat. On Saturday, her face was full of tears of joy, and she was still crying and smiling when she found the camera to say hello to her family.

The final was brief. Susaki Yui continued Japan's outstanding performance on the mat, taking Sun down right away. As in the Hildebrandt bout, Sun found herself being rolled around for multiple scores. Unlike the Hildebrandt bout, the one ended with Susaki quickly picking up enough rolls for 10 points.

Japan's Otoguro runs to gold

BRACKET (men's 65kg)

In a bizarre finish, Otoguro Takuto of Japan won the men's 65kg freestyle gold medal bout over Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan.

With the match tied 2-2 in the final minute, Otoguro and Aliyev locked up and flipped. Otoguro was given two points for a takedown. The Azerbaijan corner challenged the decision, thinking Aliyev had got the better of the tumble. After video review, Otoguro's two points were confirmed, and he gained another point because Aliyev lost the challenge.

When the action resumed, Otoguro started dashing around the mat. The referee stopped the action to caution him. Upon restarting, Otoguro kept running. The referee took gave Aliyev a point to make it 5-3. That still didn't deter Otoguro, who fled once again upon the restart, prompting the ref to give Aliyev yet another point. The delaying tactic worked, though, and Otoguro merely needed to defend a few more seconds to take gold.