By Gary Abbott
NEW YORK – 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Kyle Snyder (Woodbine, Md./Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC) won the 2018 AAU Sullivan Award in ceremonies at the New York Athletic Club tonight.
He becomes only the fourth wrestler to win this prestigious honor, joining other Olympic champions and Distinguished Members of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame John Smith (1990), Bruce Baumgartner (1995) and Rulon Gardner (2000).
The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize contributions and achievements across the country of amateur athletes.
Snyder was also a Sullivan Award finalist in 2017 but was not chosen last year.
The other finalists this year were 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).
“This is a great award. I have been blessed in my life and my career. There is nothing I love more than wrestling,” said Snyder during a humble acceptance speech, which was streamed live by the AAU.
Snyder talked with USA Wrestling after the awards banquet was over.
“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.,” said Snyder.
Kyle 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.
This year, Snyder and fellow Maryland star, Olympic champion and two-time World champion Helen Maroulis were the top wrestling stars who were named as semifinalists. Fans were included in the voting process, with online voting included as part of the process to become a finalist and for the final selection. USA Wrestling thanks all of the wrestling fans who participated in the voting to support the USA wrestlers.