wrestling

USOC

Katie Ledecky, Kyle Snyder named U.S. Olympic athletes of the year

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Katie LedeckyKyle Snyder and the women’s national hockey team earned best-of-the-year honors at the Team USA Awards on Wednesday night.

NBC will air coverage of the awards Dec. 23 from 5-6 p.m. ET.

Ledecky won Female Athlete of the Year for the third time after marking her largest medal haul ever at a major international meet — five golds and one silver at the world championships in Budapest in July.

She beat out finalists Mikaela Shiffrin (first World Cup overall title), Helen Maroulis (won her five world matches by a combined 53-0 en route to repeat gold), Lindsey Jacobellis (fifth world snowboard cross title) and Heather Bergsma (two golds, one bronze at speed skating worlds).

Snyder became the fourth wrestler to earn Male Athlete of the Year after repeating as world champion by beating Russian Abdulrashid Sadulayev in the 97kg freestyle final, dubbed the Match of the Century.

Snyder handed the Russian Tank, the Olympic 86kg champion, his first loss in nearly four years in August.

The other men’s finalists were swimmer Caeleb Dressel (seven golds at worlds), pole vaulter Sam Kendricks (world title, undefeated year), biathlete Lowell Bailey (first American to win an Olympic or world biathlon title) and skier McRae Williams (world gold, X Games silver in slopestyle).

The women’s hockey national team earned Team of the Year for the first time since it won the first Olympic women’s hockey title in 1998.

The U.S. women nearly boycotted the world championship due to a pay dispute. They reached an agreement with USA Hockey three days before the tournament. Despite little prep time, they went undefeated in Plymouth, Mich., beating rival Canada 3-2 in overtime in the April final.

The other team finalists were women’s water polo (fifth world title) and bobsledders Elana Meyers Taylor and Kehri Jones (world champions).

Paralympic Athletes of the Year went to track and field athletes Tatyana McFadden and Mikey Brannigan and the men’s sled hockey team.

Coaches of the Year went to national freestyle wrestling coach Bill Zadick and Para Nordic skiing coach Eileen Carey.

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Olympic champion loses gold medal escaping California fire, reports say

Henry Cejudo
Reuters
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Henry Cejudo suffered foot burns and lost his Olympic gold medal escaping a California wildfire on Monday, according to reports.

Cejudo did not return messages seeking confirmation Tuesday.

The wrestler turned UFC fighter said he was lucky to be alive after jumping out of the second floor of a two-story hotel to escape the smoke at 4:30 a.m. on Monday, according to Yahoo Sports.

“You know, the medal just was an object, just a medal and that’s it,” Cejudo said, according to the report. “What really meant something was the blood, the sweat, the tears that went into getting that medal. I’ll always have the memories of that with me.

“I’m not too worried about that. This was a tragedy, just like that terrible thing that happened in [Las] Vegas. It’s awful. Losing a medal, man, I am fortunate to be here talking to you and being alive. That’s the important thing.”

Cejudo, who became the then-youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at 21 at Beijing 2008, gained instant fame as the son of undocumented immigrants from Mexico. In Rio, Kyle Snyder broke Cejudo’s record as youngest gold medalist.

Cejudo’s story was told in a book, “American Victory.”

After failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials, Cejudo debuted in mixed martial arts in 2013. He is 11-2 with a scheduled fight Dec. 2.

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Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Snyder lead U.S. to first freestyle wrestling team title since 1995

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Jordan BurroughsTwitter handle reads “All I See Is Gold.”

He won 74kg gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, as well as at the world wrestling championships in 2011, 2013, and 2015.

But he failed to earn a medal of any color at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Burroughs is seeing gold once again, after claiming his fourth world championship title Saturday in Paris.

“I’ve never taken second place,” Burroughs said to reporters in Paris. “If I’m in the finals, I’m going to win it.”

Burroughs helped the U.S. win the men’s freestyle team title for the first time since 1995.

It was an even matchup between Burroughs and Russia’s Khetag Tsabolov, the 2014 world champion. Neither athlete led by more than two points until Burroughs won 9-6.

Exhausted, Burroughs fell to the mat before taking a lap with a U.S. flag.

“I actually tried to rip my singlet, but it was too tightly bound,” Burroughs said, laughing. “I’m not as strong as I thought I was.”

Burroughs, who said he will celebrate by eating a French crepe, is already looking ahead to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, when he will be 32.

“I’m hoping Tokyo can be the final chapter for me,” Burroughs said. “Rio couldn’t be it. I couldn’t go off with that being the lasting imprint on my legacy, finishing in ninth place.”

Also on Saturday, Kyle Snyder defeated Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev to win the 97kg world championship. Sadulayev, who won the 2014 and 2015 World titles and 2016 Olympic gold at 86kg, moved up to 97kg this year to potentially meet Snyder for the first time.

The 21-year-old Snyder became the youngest American wrestler to win a world title in 2015 and an Olympic title in 2016.

“Kyle is the new G.O.A.T. of this era,” Burroughs said, using the acronym “Greatest of All Time” to describe his teammate. “He truly motivates me.”

NBCSN will recap the world wrestling championships Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

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MORE: Helen Maroulis dominates for world title after making history in Rio