If there was any uncertainty about Gable Steveson’s ability on a worldwide stage before these Olympic Games, those doubts have been all but eliminated after Steveson passed his first Olympic test with flying colors, going 3-0 on the day and outscoring his opponents 23-0.
Starting in the Round of 16, Steveson squared off against Aiaal Lazerev of Kyrgyzstan for Olympic debut match, dominating from start to finish by scoring five quick takedowns to secure a 10-0 victory via technical superiority in just under two minutes.
The win set up a showdown in the quarterfinals with an opponent who was expected to be one of Gable’s largest tests of the tournament: Taha Akgul (Turkey), a two-time World champion, and the reigning Olympic gold medalist. However, instead of the narrow contest that was expected, again it was Gable who rolled towards another dominant victory.
Steveson secured the first takedown of the contest early in the first period to go up 2-0, and continued to put the pressure on after the break with three more takedowns in the second period, including two takedowns off reattacks from Akgul shots, to run away with the 8-0 win.
After the intermission between sessions, Steveson would return to Makuhari Messe Hall for a early Thursday morning showdown against Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur of Mongolia, with a trip to the gold medal match on the line. Once more it was Gable controlling the tempo, and while Munkhtur showed respectable defense against Steveson’s constant attacks, the Apple Valley, Minn., proved to be too much, converting two takedowns as well as obtaining a shot clock point to earn a 5-0 victory.
On the top side of the bracket Geno Petriashvili of Georgia became the second 125-kilogram finalist after he came from behind against Iran’s Amir Hossein Zare in the semifinals to win 6-3.
Now, all roads lead to a clash of giants between Steveson and Petriashvili, with both men having something to prove. Petriashvili, the three-time World champion, will try to get over the hump and finally earn himself an Olympic gold after getting bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. On the other hand, Steveson will once again look to prove how far ahead he is from the field and cement himself as one of the most dominant wrestlers in the world.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)