Golden moments for a pair of Gophers

Gable Steveson wearing his gold medal.
Gable Steveson poses with his gold medal after his stunning last-second victory over a three-time world champion.

This was Olympic drama you had to see to believe. And then you had to watch it again to make sure it actually happened the way it did.

Gable Steveson, the Gopher wrestler who won the NCAA heavyweight championship for Minnesota a few months ago, culminated his brilliant run through the Olympics by scoring twice in the final seconds—including a two-point takedown in the final second—to win gold over Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili in the 125-kilogram class of freestyle wrestling.

Steveson was in control most of the match and led 5-2 with about a minute and a half left. But Petriashvili, the three-time world champion from Georgia (the country), rattled off six quick points to take an 8-5 lead. 

Then Steveson came roaring back with his own flurry—four points in about 10 seconds. The last two points were scored so close to the final buzzer that there was a video review. When that confirmed Steveson’s last-half-second heroics, the Gopher had won 10-8 and the celebration was on, punctuated by the 275-pounder’s trademark back flip.

Commentators on the television broadcast called Steveson’s victory “unbelievable,” “mind-blowing,” and “one for the ages.” Those weren’t overstatements. A video snippet on NBC’s Tokyo Olympics Twitter page already had 2 million views just hours after the event.

Steveson wasn’t the only Gopher to gain gold. Bowe Becker, who wrapped up a prolific career at Minnesota two years ago, won gold on July 25 as part of the U.S.’s 4x100-meter freestyle relay in swimming. 

Becker became the seventh Gopher swimmer in history to medal at the Olympic Games, the sixth to do so for Team USA and the fourth to earn gold, joining Minnesota legends Virgil Luken (1964), Walter Richardson (1964) and David Plummer (2016). His win also brought the Gophers swimming program their second gold medal in as many Olympic meets.

"We could not be happier for Bowe and his teammates," says Minnesota head coach Kelly Kremer. "That was a huge swim for him, for the U.S., and certainly for Minnesota and our program!"

And Gable’s gold? Most certainly one for the ages.