LONDON — U.S. world champion freestyle wrestler Jordan Burroughs won the Olympic gold medal in the men’s 74-kilogram weight class at the London Games.
Burroughs achieved not only what he set out to do, but also what he said he would do - finish on top.
“I told everyone I wanted to be the best for a long time. And there’s a difference between having a plan and actually executing that plan," said Burroughs. "A lot of people thought I was cocky, a lot of people didn’t think I had what it took to be an Olympic champ. I won a world championship last year, and they thought maybe I got a little bit lucky, but no one’s laughing anymore.”
Burroughs’ gold medal victory came against Iran’s Sadegh Goudarzi by a score for the two periods of 1-0, 1-0. He also had defeated the Iranian in last year’s world championship finals.
Burroughs scored his points near the end of each period and said that was his strategy.
“It was a bit of a plan for me. I knew that I could take him down at any moment, but I knew it would be a dogfight, despite what the score was, so I pictured myself and envisioned myself taking him down with maybe 10 to 15 seconds left in each period, so that he wouldn’t have much time to execute his shots and execute a plan," said Burroughs.
Burroughs won four matches on the day en route to the gold medal. His semifinal win came over eventual bronze medalist and a two-time world champion Denis Tsargush of Russia.
Burroughs hopes his win can help rally his U.S. freestyle wrestling teammates to execute good performances through the remainder of the Olympics.
“This shows everyone [my teammates] that they are capable of winning. You know we always put Russians and Iranians on a pedestal, but we want to restore the order back as Americans being the best team in the world. And I think I’ve proven that is possible and hopefully the rest of the guys will follow suit,” he said.
The 24-year-old Burroughs only last year graduated from college, where he won two national championships, so he hopes this is just the beginning of his mark on the world stage.
“I want to be the face of wrestling. I want to be that star that people can look up to when you describe wrestling. Overall in the U.S., I want everyone to know who Jordan Burroughs is, you know, so that’s the goal for me.”
Burroughs said he has every intention of defending his Olympic title in four years in Rio de Janeiro.
Earlier Friday in freestyle wrestling’s 55-kilo class, the gold medal went to Russian Dzhamal Otarsultanov.