Wrestling, unsurprisingly, is returning to the Olympics for the Tokyo Games. And after another hugely successful showing at the Rio Games in 2016, Japan will look to continue its run of dominance on its home turf this summer. However, they'll have to do so without two of the sport's most decorated athletes as other countries -- including the United States -- continue to get stronger.
Two of the United States' top shining stars are expected to return to the Olympics and add to their already impressive resumes. Kyle Snyder, who won the gold in the 97 kilogram class in Rio, will once again look to take home a medal in Tokyo. More recently, Snyder won gold at the Pan-American Championships in 2020. Along with Snyder, Helen Maroulis, who won gold in the 53 kg class in Rio, is also expected to take part in the Tokyo Games. Maroulis, however, suffered traumatic brain injuries after her appearance in the Rio Games that greatly impacted her performance in recent years. But after a challenging recovery process, it appears the 29-year-old is set to make a return to the Olympics. With Adeline Gray also set to represent the the United States, the Americans could be in position for a very strong showing in Tokyo.
As for Japan, Sara Dosho is considered one of the early favorites to compete for a gold in the 69 kg class. The 26-year-old took the gold in Rio and has risen up the ranks as one of Japan's top athletes in the sport.
While Japan always seems to contend in the Olympic wrestling tournaments, the Tokyo Games may be more challenging than in years past. Kaori Icho and Saori Yoshida, two of the best to ever compete in women's Olympic wrestling, are not expected to be competing in Tokyo after both won medals in Rio (Yoshida won silver in 53 kg and Icho won gold in 58 kg). Icho has never lost an Olympic bout and in 2016 became the first woman to ever win gold four consecutive times in an individual Olympic event.
New Faces to Watch
Jordan Burroughs had Kyle Dake's number for years, but Dake finally got the better of Burroughs at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials and punched his ticket to Tokyo. Dake, 30, has won a pair of world championships (2018, 2019) and will be making his Olympic debut in Japan.
Gable Steveson, a 20-year-old native of Apple Valley, Minnesota, cemented his trip to Tokyo after sweeping Nick Gwiazdowski at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials. Steveson is a self-proclaimed "entertainer" as evidenced by his impressive backflip celebration after taking down Gwiazdowski handily in just two bouts. The Golden Gopher will head to Tokyo as one of the United States' youngest athletes, and now he'll have the opportunity to entertain on the sport's largest stage.