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From the Oval to the Olympics

Story: Laura Reopell, Design: Ethan Newburger

The Rio 2016 Olympics generated a frenzy of social and political outcry. Brazilian citizens flooded the streets months before the games in protest against their then president, Dilma Rousseff. Troubled with political unrest, corrupt monetary decisions and a zika outbreak, many believed Brazil would not achieve a successful games. Despite these problems, the Opening Ceremony kicked off effortlessly demonstrating Brazil’s rich history.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Olympians anxiously waited behind the scenes for their debut in the Parade of Nations. Of these hundreds, 12 students arrived from Ohio State including Kyle Snyder (wrestling), Nate Ebner (rugby), Jason Pryer (fencing), Mona Shaito (fencing), Eleanor Harvey (fencing), Nichelle Prince (soccer), Dustin Tynes (swimming), Michelle Williams (swimming), Ilse Paulis (rowing), Elodie Ravera Scaramozzino (rowing), Ana Cid Centrelles (rowing) and Misha Koudinov (gymnastics).

ry major while also working, but Of the 12 Buckeyes, third-year Kyle Snyder became the youngest wrestler in twenty years to win a gold medal. Snyder’s confidence in his ability going into the games was key. Even with the possibility of his opponents doping, he remained assured in his performance. Synder knew as long as he wrestled the best he could, he knows he is strong enough to overcome the competition. Of course, this attitude is what earned him a gold medal.

From the beginning of his first Olympic experience, Snyder didn’t have much time to lounge around. His typical day began at 6:45 a.m. in Olympic Village with a morning walk, breakfast and wrestling soon after began. He did not compete every day, so most days consisted of practicing with teammates. After his first five days in Rio, Snyder left the Olympic Village and moved to Lonier Training Facility. Quieter than the Olympic Village, Snyder was better able to focus on his performance.

As a rule of thumb Synder is not preoccupied with other wrestlers and believes in competing against himself. Synder combats the pressure of opponents and his own prestigious title by focusing on learning from his mistakes and growing as a wrestler every time he steps on the mat.

Snyder felt very proud to be able to represent his family, his school and his country with the sport he loves. Unable to describe the feeling directly after defeating Khetag Gazyumov, Kyle remembers falling to his knees after the match in pure joy.

“I specifically remember standing up on the podium when they actually gave me the medal, and I thought about my brother who is in the military,” Snyder says.

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As a student, Snyder’s optimistic attitude helps him balance his student and wrestling responsibilities. In his first year, Snyder was not enrolled at Ohio State, he simply wrestled. The following year, he  took online courses, which helped him stay on track for his sports industry major, but also worked around his wrestling schedule.

With three semesters left, Snyder continues to take online courses and hopes to continue wrestling in another five Olympics. Because he is currently enrolled at Ohio State, he is not allowed by NCAA rules to accept any endorsement deals, but he is planning to do so after graduation.

While it seems like Snyder has his future figured out, he really enjoys the thrill that sports bring him.

“That’s the best thing about sports; you don’t know what’s gonna happen,” Snyder explains. “For those who only want to win, it can be the scariest part because if someone takes that away from you, then that sucks. For me, as long as I keep getting better and keep having fun, that is all I can ask for.”

Although the Rio 2016 Olympics provoked much controversy, Snyder shares his positive experience at the games. Snyder, along with the 11 other athletes in Rio this past summer, keep moving forward as students and focusing on their athletic goals.

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