The Sky’s The Limit For Gold-Medal Wrestler Gable Steveson
by Karen Price
Gable Steveson poses at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 6, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.
While we haven’t seen the last of Gable Steveson the wrestler, we have seen the last of Gable Steveson the backflipper.
Or so it seems.
In one of his more recent social media posts, the newly-minted Olympic gold medalist shared a photo of his now-famous celebratory gymnastics move and wrote, “The last backflip.. My specialty backflip post match is now retired until further notice… Thank you all for supporting it.”
As to the rest of Steveson’s future, that’s about as up in the air as he was in the photo.
Steveson is, without a doubt, having himself a year.
First the University of Minnesota wrestler won the Big Ten and NCAA heavyweight titles, then he made his first Olympic team at 185 kg. He followed that up with a gold medal at the Pan American Championships, and then a gold medal at the Olympic Games with an incredible last-second comeback against Georgia’s three-time world champion, Geno Petriashvili.
He’s the first American freestyle super heavyweight to win an Olympic wrestling title since Bruce Baumgartner in 1992.
But whether he’s going back to Minnesota, turning pro with either WWE or UFC, or pursuing something else — playing in the NFL, perhaps? — he’s not letting on just yet.
Steveson told Sports Illustrated that a number of NFL teams have reached out, including a scout from the Buffalo Bills. He also has a connection with the Baltimore Ravens, he said.
“The Olympic gold medal is helping me see the world, so my next step is going to be a big decision,” he told the outlet. “I’m going to decompress now and think about it.”
Or maybe the Minnesota Vikings would be interested in doing more than offering Steveson the chance to sound the Gjallarhorn at one of their preseason games, as they did earlier this month. Fellow Golden Gopher championship wrestler Brock Lesnar, after all, got a brief run in preseason with the Vikings in 2004 while on a break from his WWE career.
But if NFL teams are interested in what Steveson might be able to do for them, they aren’t alone.
Gable Steveson celebrates at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 6, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.
Steveson confirmed that WWE chief Vince McMahon has reached out to him personally about the possibility of him joining the organization, and then tweeted out earlier this week that he’d be at this weekend’s WWE SummerSlam. While in Las Vegas for the big event Steveson will also be meeting with UFC chief Dana White. There would be some work to do before Steveson could be ready for mixed martial arts at the UFC level, White said, but the possibility certainly exists.
Of course, Steveson could opt to return to Minnesota for his senior year and even make some money doing so thanks to NCAA rules changes on compensation, and he could decide to defend his gold medal in three years at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
Teasing his followers, Steveson tweeted, “So, y’all want the decision or no?” back on Aug. 12.
No matter what he chooses to do moving forward, Steveson has already reminded people worldwide “Moral of the story: NEVER GIVE UP,” as he captioned a recent post.
Steveson was down, 8-5, to Petriashvili in the waning moments of what would soon become the star-making match. Not that silver wouldn’t have been something of which to be proud, but Steveson wasn’t there for silver. He hadn’t lost all year and wasn’t going to let the first time be in the biggest match of his career.
A spin-behind takedown with 10 seconds left gave him two points. Still not enough. Then with less than a second remaining, another takedown. Two more points.
“I looked at the clock and it was like 0.3,” Steveson told reporters afterward. “And I was like, ‘Ain’t no way.’ And my head just like flushed with everything. And I was like, ‘Wow.’”
That was enough, but then he got one more point after Georgia challenged. Ten seconds, five points, and the gold medal was his.
Moments later, he treated the limited crowd in attendance to what would be his last backflip.
Until further notice, anyway.
“It was just pure heart and pure determination, but it hasn’t sunk in yet,” he told The Guardian. “It’s something crazy. The best advice I could give anybody after (Tokyo) is to never give up, because your life can change in a second.”