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|All he sees is gold: Jordan Burroughs ready to become American hero in London
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
World champion Jordan Burroughs (left) and World silver medalist Jake Herbert appeared at the U.S. Olympic freestyle press conference on Saturday afternoon at the Main Press Center. John Sachs photo.
LONDON – Jordan Burroughs was standing in a hallway in the Main Press Center late Saturday afternoon when a reporter approached with a question.
The reporter was aware the winner of wrestling’s “Living the Dream Medal Fund” will receive $250,000 for capturing an Olympic gold medal in London.
So what does the silver and bronze medalist receive, the reporter asked.
“Man, I don’t even want to think about that,” Burroughs said. “It’s $50,000 for silver and $25,000 for bronze. That’s a $200,000 difference between gold and silver. That’s a lot of money.”
Burroughs, a 2011 World champion, obviously is in it for more than just the money. He did cash in last year when he received a $50,000 Living the Dream check for winning Worlds.
He would be in line for a huge payday if he strikes gold when he competes in freestyle wrestling on Aug. 10. Burroughs is the favorite to win the gold medal at 74 kg/163 lbs.
Burroughs, 24, took the freestyle world by storm in 2011. He finished his college career by winning his second straight NCAA title for Nebraska before jumping right into freestyle.
“I have an extremely high level of confidence,” Burroughs said during the U.S. Olympic freestyle press conference on Saturday. “I was very successful on the collegiate level and I expected to excel at this level. I wanted to win and wanted to be the best. Every time I step out there I expect to win, even against the best guys in the World.”
Burroughs has now won 34 straight freestyle matches at the Senior level in freestyle, and has become a big hit with the media. He has been featured in Sports Illustrated and Ebony, and is the subject of an upcoming feature on the NBC Nightly News. He appeared on NBC’s Today Show on Friday with Greco-Roman wrestler Ellis Coleman.
His Twitter account – alliseeisgold – continues to grow in popularity. Burroughs posted Facebook photos after the Opening Ceremonies where he posed with NBA star LeBron James and track star Lolo Jones.
“I love the attention,” Burroughs said, flashing a smile. “I wish we had WiFi here right now so I could get on Twitter. I’m excited to be in this position I am in, and I’m excited to be around this great group of guys. I am trying to stay mentally focused. I’m not an Olympic gold medalist yet. I am visualizing that day, Aug. 10, when I go out there and execute at my highest level. Hopefully, I can be an American hero very soon.”
Burroughs’ run of success is even more remarkable when you consider he suffered a serious knee injury between winning NCAA titles in 2009 and 2011.
“I had torn my PCL and LCL in my left knee in 2009,” Burroughs said. “I still remember the day, Dec. 19, 2009, against Steve Brown from Central Michigan. It was an extremely tough injury. I didn’t know how I would feel coming back from that injury. A lot of people told me I wouldn’t be as strong, as fast or as quick. It was definitely a low point in my wrestling career.
"I had been an NCAA champion in 2009, so I was kind of complacent and thought everything would come easy. Taking the year off, it gave me the hunger and fire and desire to be the best guy in the World. It just shows how swiftly and easily something I love so much and have done for so long can be taken away from me. I’m trying to seize the moment here and use what God has given me, and hopefully be an Olympic gold medalist.”
Burroughs was asked about the pressure he faces as the top American hope for gold in wrestling.
“I don’t want to look at it as pressure,” he said. “I expect to win a gold medal every time I step on the mat. I wrestle on the first day of the freestyle tournament and I want to get the ball rolling for the rest of the team. A lot of people expect me to win, and I need to get it done for myself, my family and my country.”