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US Wrestler Burroughs Aims for Olympic Gold

  • Parke Brewer

His personal Internet website, alliseeisgold.com, which is also his Twitter handle, says it all. U.S. freestyle wrestler Jordan Burroughs has his eye on the top prize at the Olympic games in London this summer.

You just have to look at what he's already accomplished to know Burroughs' Olympic dream is firmly rooted in reality.

After capturing a high school state title in New Jersey, he went on to star at the University of Nebraska. During his junior year, he broke the school record for takedowns with 117 in 19 dual meets, had 17 wins over ranked opponents and went on to capture the national collegiate championship.

Burroughs was undefeated his senior year, at 36-0, not only gaining a second national title last year, but also winning the Hodge Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding collegiate wrestler.

Burroughs says his almost immediate transition to freestyle wrestling at the international level was not difficult and he attributes it to his self-confidence.

Jordan Burroughs reacts after beating Tyler Caldwell in their 165-pound finals match on March 19, 2011, at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Philadelphia.

Jordan Burroughs reacts after beating Tyler Caldwell in their 165-pound finals match on March 19, 2011, at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Philadelphia.


“I was the best guy on my high school team, best guy on my college team. And for me, I’ve just built up a level of confidence," he says. "Every time I step out on the mat I expect to win, so the transition was easy for me. Basically, I train hard every day. I just want to be the best. When I was in college, I wanted to train for the best guys in the world, not just for the best guys in the country.”

Burroughs moved up in weight classes each step of the way as he grew -- from 61 kilograms in high school, to 68, 71 and then 74 kilograms in college. He'll wrestle in the 74-kilo class in London.

It didn't take him long to assert himself on the world stage. Burroughs won the world championship last year, becoming only the fourth U.S. wrestler to win the collegiate title and the world crown in the same year. He followed that distinction by winning a gold medal at the Pan American Games.

“I put in so much hard work, so much sacrifice, so much commitment that I just expect to win," he says. "You know for me, when you do everything right, you just expect to win and everything will take care of itself.”

Burroughs first thought of competing in an Olympics after watching American sprinter Michael Johnson win gold medals in the 200 and 400 meters at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“It was huge for me, seeing him wear the two gold shoes and seeing him being an American hero was awesome for me," he remembers. "You know, being on the front of Sports Illustrated magazines and all types of sponsorships and Wheaties [cereal] boxes, has been a dream for me. You know, wrestlers don’t get a lot of recognition nationwide or worldwide, but I want to be the guy that can get that type of recognition for our sport.”

Burroughs, an explosive attacker on the mat, knows what it will take to be the public face of American wrestling.

“Just continue to win. You know, nothing draws like winning," he says. "So that’s the biggest thing for me. Go out there and win the gold medal in London this summer, and definitely a lot more fans will come."

Burroughs expects his toughest wrestling competition to come from the veteran Russians and Iranians. But he'll be ready to take on any challengers who stand between him and his quest to capture the gold medal.
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