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Aug, 2017



Kyle Snyder zeroing in on a 'deeper level of self-perfection'

How do you stay motivated after earning an Olympic gold medal in your first try? After winning a pair of NCAA championships with another on the horizon next March?

After winning in Rio, at the World Championships, the Yarygin Memorial and multiple high-profile competitions, you might wonder what fuels Kyle Snyder.

With so much success at age 21, it’s fair to wonder how the Maryland native and Ohio State superstar fuels his competitive fires. The bad news for his opponents? They’re still burning plenty hot – and will be for the foreseeable future.

As Snyder prepares to represent the United States at 97 kilograms at the World Championships in Paris, he’s pushing the accolades down and pushing himself as hard as ever, with the goal of even greater successes waiting for him.

“If you measure someone’s career by their accolades, at some point, the accolades become so many it’s hard to continue to find inspiration by chasing accolades,” Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said. “What Kyle’s done is broken it down to a much deeper level of self-perfection. He’s constantly assessing his wrestling based on what his potential is, and the areas he needs to improve on.”

Snyder has already proven that he is among the world’s elite. But his approach to getting more out of himself – which led him to spend his senior year of high school training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center – has been exceptionally successful. So why not stay on that same path?

“The main thing in my career that motivates me is the fact that I like what I’m doing,” he said. “I like wrestling and there’s a lot left for me to learn – a bunch of different positions. It’s about getting to compete, but if it was only about winning championships… of course I want to win more, I’ve won some of the biggest events there are. But it’s about learning the positions, enjoying what I’m doing and being the best you can be at it.”

Ryan takes it a step further.

“He wants to be a master,” he said of Snyder. “If coaches are Yoda, he wants to be a Jedi at every wrestling position. That’s the way he approaches the sport.”

Snyder’s success is anchored in both mental and physical skills. Ryan says even in intense workouts, the Ohio State coaches aren’t able to push his heart rate past 182 beats per minute. Ryan says Snyder is “really good” at “productive suffering.”

“There’s nothing he won’t do,” he said. “He believes it will improve his wrestling. He’s good at going to the dark place and staying there. He’s the best I’ve been around.”

Genetics, Ryan says, separate him from other wrestlers; he says Snyder’s mentality is “nothing short of remarkable for me.”

“He’s a generational athlete,” Ryan said. “I’ve been around a lot of great wrestlers, and none surpass him. Tom Brands, Lincoln McIlravy, he’s one of the best our country has had. He trains at a level that is superhuman, to some degree.”

That sort of intense practice pays off, Snyder said.

“I train really hard and prepare as hard as I possibly can," he said. “I’m practicing that way for matches and in situations, I’m constantly pursuing and trying to score points on whoever I’m practicing with. When you do that in practice, it makes it a little easier to do in matches when you’re trying to score points. It translates over to matches.”

Resilience also aids Snyder in tournaments like the World Championships, where matches are grouped closely together.

“It helps to recover quickly (from) workouts, and at tournaments,” he said. “There’s not that much time between matches, and you wrestle quickly to the semis at Worlds. You can recover quickly. I start with a little more in the tank than the guy I’m competing against. Mentally, I’m ready to go and attack, and I don’t have to hold anything back and recover for the next match.”

Snyder certainly won’t hold anything back in Paris. He could be part of one of the most anticipated matchups in recent memory if Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev moves up to 97 kg, as expected. “The Russian Tank” is unbeaten at the Senior international level since 2013, with a pair of World titles and the Olympic gold at 86 kg under his belt since then.

In May, when word spread of Sadulaev’s move, Snyder tweeted, “It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and Sadulaev is coming up to 97 kg.”

“I’m excited,” Snyder said. “He’s a great wrestler, the reigning three-time World champion, and there’s no doubt he’s really good. Those are the matchups I want in my career. The No. 1 guy in the World, there’s no one I’d rather compete against. We’re both young and we’ll likely compete against each other a bunch of different times. I’m focused right now on getting better.”

How do you slow down the Tank? It’s not easy.

“He’s really good on top,” Snyder said. “It’s hard to get to his legs. He stays in good position and has short legs. It’s difficult to set him up and he’s explosive – can score a bunch of points in a short amount of time.”

Regardless of how he fares in Paris, Snyder has a long, productive career ahead of him. Ryan says he could “win the next four (Olympic) gold medals,” and beyond that, the sky is the limit.

“Whatever it is he wants, I believe it well be well thought-out and pursued with love,” he said. “If he wants to pursue a political career I think he’d be a great President. If he wants to be a CEO, he’d be a great CEO. … If he wants to be a head wrestling coach, he could be a wrestling coach. There’s nothing he’s incapable of doing,”

For his part, Snyder said he’s “not 100 percent sure” of his next move. That’s OK. He has time.

“Maybe in a couple years, I’ll go for an MBA from a good school,” he said. “It’s good to be well-educated in this day and age. Maybe I’ll coach, maybe I’ll never use it. But I don’t want my only option to be a wrestling coach. It’s a great profession, but I want to have a bunch of different options. Right now, I’m still competing – it could be a bunch of different things.”

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