LOS ANGELES – The United States Olympic Committee on Wednesday announced the winners for the 2017 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, recognizing the outstanding achievements of Team USA athlete, teams and coaches.
The Male Olympic Athlete of the Year is 2017 World champion freestyle wrestler Kyle Snyder (Woodbine, Maryland/Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC).
“This is great because Team USA is built from a ton of amazing and talented athletes. To be awarded this title is pretty special,” said Snyder.
Snyder becomes just the fourth wrestler to win a USOC Athlete of the Year award, joining Olympic and World champions John Smith in 1990, Rulon Gardner in 2000 and Jordan Burroughs in 2015. Smith was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in 1997 and Gardner was inducted as a Distinguished Member in 2010.
Snyder won the 97 kg World gold medal in what was dubbed the “Match of the Century,” defeating Olympic champion and two-time World champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia in the finals. His win gave the USA the World Team title over Russia by one team point. It was the third straight World or Olympic gold medal for Snyder, who was a 2015 World champion and 2016 Olympic champion.
Also in 2017, 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, as well.
USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick, who led Team USA to the World Team Title in freestyle wrestling, was named National Olympic Coach of the Year.
The United States edged Russia by one point to win the 2017 Freestyle World Team Title, its first in 22 years going back to 1995, and only its third ever. The USA won six medals in the eight weight classes, including two gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals. In addition, USA Wrestling won the Junior World Team men’s freestyle title in 2017 under Bill’s guidance, its first team title at this age level since 1984.
“It is an honor to be included in this group of excellent coaches, which is humbling. A good plan is contingent upon good people in the right places. We have a vision to be the best and believed we could be World Champion. It is a victory for everybody,” said Zadick.
Zadick became National Freestyle Coach in August 2016 and was in his first year leading the program after more than seven years as an Assistant National Freestyle Coach. As an athlete, he was a 2006 World champion in men’s freestyle wrestling. Zadick was an NCAA champion at the University of Iowa in 1996. Zadick wanted to thank his past coaches including Bruce Burnett and Dan Gable, his family and many others for their support.
Zadick is the first USA Wrestling coach to win the USOC Olympic Coach of the Year award, and only the second to win any USOC coaching award. In 2008, Dr. Dave Bennett, who was USA Wrestling’s Freestyle Development Coach, won the USOC Doc Counsilman Science Award, recognizing a coach who utilizes scientific techniques and equipment in innovative ways. Bennett received the Order of Merit award from the Hall of Fame in 2015.
2017 World champion Helen Maroulis was a finalist for the Female Olympic Athlete of the Year, an award which was won by swimming star Katie Ledecky.
Maroulis won the 2017 World title at 58 kg/128 lbs., dominating the field. It was her third straight World or Olympic gold medal, all in different weight classes. She was a 2015 World champion at 55 kg/121 lbs. and won the 2016 Olympic title at 53 kg/116.5 lbs. Also in 2017, Maroulis won a gold medal at the Poland Open, and was the U.S. World Team Trials champion.
In the fan voting for the USOC Olympic Athlete of the Year Awards, which counted for 50% of the final tally, both Snyder and Maroulis won the voting in their category.