TOKYO (Dispatches) - It was one of the most hotly anticipated showdowns of the Tokyo Olympics: “Captain America” facing “The Russian Tank” on the wrestling mat.
And on Saturday night, it was the “Russian Tank” who rolled over his opponent in the second sequel to their original “Match of the Century.”
Russian Olympic Committee’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev 6-3 win against American Kyle Snyder in the final of the freestyle wrestling’s 97 kilogram category on Saturday came after a characteristically dramatic bout for the two rivals, featuring surprise attacks, deep shots and counter moves.
The men have a long rivalry. Both were Olympic champions in Rio in 2016, where Sadulaev competed in a lower weight class. Born just six months apart, they have wrestled twice in the past four years, each winning once in dramatic bouts known as “Snyderlaev I” and “Snyderlaev II.” They are both Instagram wrestling royalty.
“Unbelievable,” Sadulaev said after his win. “It was more difficult to defend than conquer, so it was much more difficult this time.”
Ahead of Saturday’s final, Snyder and Sadulaev breezed through their three bouts in the eliminations, with the Russian not conceding a single point and Snyder only conceding two.
In wrestling, the two countries have always had a bitter rivalry, especially in the freestyle class, often facing off in major championship finals. In Tokyo, the U.S. won nine medals in wrestling while the Russian Olympic Committee got eight.