Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder won the 2018 AAU Sullivan Award, presented to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Snyder becomes just the fourth wrestler to seize the prestigious honor, joining fellow Olympic gold medalists John Smith (1990), Bruce Baumgartner (1995) and Rulon Gardner (2000).
“This is a great award,” Snyder said. “I have been blessed in my life and my career. There is nothing I love more than wrestling.”
The Sullivan Award has been given annually since 1930. It was created with the intent to recognize contributions and achievements across the country from amateur athletes.
Additional 2017 finalists included: Annika Albrecht (Women’s Volleyball), Joel Berry II (Men’s Basketball) , Erin Finn (Track and Field) , Kelly Hunter (Women’s Volleyball), Angela “Annie” Peavy (Para-equestrian) and Alex & Maia Shibutani (Figures Skating).
FROM USA WRESTLING
Snyder’s Qualifications for 2017
• 2017 World champion at 97 kg in men’s freestyle wrestling
• Won what was dubbed within wrestling the “Match of the Century,” defeating Olympic champion and two-time World champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia in the World finals.
• His win gave the USA the World Team title over Russia by one team point, the first World Team title in freestyle wrestling for the USA in 22 years.
• It was the third straight World or Olympic gold medal for Snyder, who was a 2015 World champion and 2016 Olympic champion.
• Snyder won the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia, the first U.S. men’s winner in that prestigious event since 2009.
• He also won gold medals at the Pan American Championships and the Grand Prix of Spain.
• Domestically, Snyder won both the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. World Team Trials.
• As a junior at Ohio State, Snyder won his second NCAA Div. I title at heavyweight, making him a three-time NCAA finalist.
• Snyder was the first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal, then come back and win the NCAA Div. I Championships afterwards.
• Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year
• Dan Hodge Trophy finalist (collegiate wrestling’s Heisman)
• U.S. Male Olympic Athlete of the Year
Since he was nominated, Snyder won his second consecutive Yarygin Memorial Grand Prix, and added his third NCAA heavyweight title.
Q & A
Q: What were your thoughts when they announced you as the winner of this award?
Snyder: I was excited. It is a great award. Some of the best athletes that ever walked this earth have been finalists and won this award. It was great to get to know the other seven finalists and learn about the history of this award.
Q: You join John Smith, Bruce Baumgartner and Rulon Gardner as the only wrestlers to win this historic award. What is it like to be considered alongside these legends of our sport?
Snyder: Those are three of the greatest. I am very thankful for all the things I have accomplished. I know God has blessed with great gifts, a great family, and self belief. I am truly blessed to be one of four wrestlers to win this award.
Q: You thanked many people during your acceptance speech. Talk about the support that you have had during your life journey that has helped you reach this level of success.
Snyder: I thanked many people, but there is a lot more that I wasn’t able to say. My support staff is big. I truly trust the people that guide me and know that they love me and want what is best for me. There is no doubt that they have played a huge role in my achievements.
Q: What are the keys to your ability to stay focused on the future, to keep improving and to face the challenges of international wrestling?
Snyder: The key is simple, it is keep loving what I’m doing. I love wrestling, and as long as that remains, I will be focused and improving and giving all the effort I have to the sport.