By Rick Thorp
COLUMBUS — Kyle Snyder’s life has been a whirlwind the past few weeks.
Since returning home from Rio with a gold medal draped around his neck, the Ohio State junior has been flooded with plenty of requests of his time — interviews, public appearances, etc.
Last Saturday, he fulfilled a big one — appearing on the Block-O at the 50-yard line before more than 107,000 screaming Buckeye fans at Ohio State’s season-opening football game against Bowling Green.
As he took the field, Snyder, the youngest gold medalist in U.S. Olympic history, smiled from ear to ear as chants of ”U-S-A! … U-S-A!” rang down from the stands.
”That was the first going out on the field like that. It was pretty cool,” Snyder gleamed during a halftime meeting with reporters.
For Snyder, the attention never gets old.
”I like it. There will be a time where people won’t want to interview me or want me to walk out into a stadium anymore. So, I’m trying to enjoy these moments. I like being asked questions. I like talking.”
Especially if it’s about wrestling, Ohio State or both. He’d been introduced to football crowd before with a team, but this was different.
”This was the Olympics,” he said. ”It’s different. A lot more people know about it. I had goosebumps.”
That’s the same feeling folks around the Buckeye State had when Snyder toppled Khetag Goziumov of Azerbaijani, 2-1, to add an Olympic crown to his World, NCAA and Big Ten titles.
Snyder became the second Buckeye to win an Olympic medal and the first in 92 years, joining Harry Steel, who won gold at the 1924 games in Paris. Snyder’s victory also continued an American streak of at least one men’s freestyle champ in every Olympics since Mexico in 1968.
It’s a point of pride for Snyder, but he remains humble and is looking forward to the next challenge.
”I always believe in myself,” the 20-year-old said. ”I’m always confident that I’ll work extremely hard and I’m going to be prepared as I can possibly be. As long as I wrestle my best, I feel like no one in the world in can beat me.”
Snyder credited his parents for instilling in him a work ethic that’s resulted in success.
”Time management is the biggest thing my parents did; teaching me to focus on the correct things and focusing my time well,” he said.
”So, school work has been a priority for me, getting good grades.”
That was part of the message Snyder delivered in June when he visited Sean Doyle’s wrestling camp at Wheeling Jesuit University.
”It’s very important,” Snyder said of the camps he visits.
”To be able to work and do something that I love and give back to the sport and help it grow is something I’m passionate about.
”I have a lot of fun doing that.”