Freestyle wrestling has been a staple martial art in the United States and its world-leading 51 gold medals is a testament to that. Team USA captured two gold medals in the 2016 Olympics in Rio: one in men’s 97 kg and one in women’s 53 kg. This year, Team USA has a great opportunity to capture three or more golds, a feat the country has not accomplished since 1992.
The Olympic odds have two wrestlers as gold medal favorites while two more are slated to finish on the podium. And it is improbable but possible that the women dominate Tokyo 2020 and bring home their largest haul since women’s wrestling was inaugurated in 2004.
The U.S. men face heavy competition across all weight classes, according to the Olympic betting lines. But two divisions could produce gold medalists: The 74 kg division with rising star Kyle Dake and the 97 kg class with Kyle Snyder, who is defending his gold medal in Rio.
74 kg Freestyle
We may have an underdog story brewing with Dake. The New Yorker was constantly in Jordan Burroughs’s shadow and multiple injuries had him contemplating retirement. But the four-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion now finds himself with a good shot at claiming Olympic gold.
Dake won the gold at the 2018 World Cup and the 2018 and 2019 World Championships and is now just one gold medal away from joining Burroughs in winning all three tournaments. The sportsbook’s lines have greatly shifted to making Dake the favorite at +150 over Russian Zaurbek Sidakov (+180).
97 kg Freestyle
While Dake hunts for his first Olympic gold, Snyder looks to defend his. The 25-year-old is bidding to do what only one other American (John Smith, 1992) has done: repeat as a gold medalist in freestyle wrestling.
The odds aren’t in Snyder’s favor as his rival, Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev, is the heavy chalk at -550. Snyder is a +400 underdog, having been pinned by Sadulaev in their most recent meeting in the 2018 World Championship. Since that defeat, Snyder went on to win the Pan American Games and has only lost three times in 46 bouts.
Snyder isn’t the only wrestler in line to make history here. The U.S. women’s national team can potentially capture two gold medals or more. This would be a landmark achievement for the women.
53 kg Freestyle
Helen Maroulis captured the United States’ first Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the last Olympics. However, she faces stiffer competition this time and is a sizable underdog at +400 to defend her gold. Maroulis also went on to win the 2017 World Championships but has not been that active since.
India’s Vinesh Phogat is the slight favorite (+105) to win the tournament over hometown favorite Mayu Mukaida (+115). Ecuadorian Luisa Valverde has similar odds to the American.
68 kg Freestyle
Gymnastics has Simone Biles and track has Sydney McLaughlin. Wrestling has Tamyra Mensah, who is slated to dominate her division and is lined at -220 to capture the gold. Mensah has already won the World Championships, Pan American Games and Pan American Championships. A gold medal would be the final piece to her masterful collection.
Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu and France’s Koumba Larroque are tied at +275 to pull off the upset.
76 kg Freestyle
Adeline Gray is the first American wrestler to capture five world titles. But she wants the Olympic gold medal, something that eluded her in 2016. She is a very slight favorite at -160 to win the tournament over German Aline Rotter-Focken at -110. Japan’s Hiroe Minagawa is a distant third at +550.
Gray, a Colorado native, has only lost a total of four times and even has a pair of wins over Erica Wiebe, the Canadian who won the gold in 2016. Gray has also already beaten Rotter-Focken back in 2019.