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|Jordan Burroughs delivers to reach gold-medal match at Olympic Games
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
World champion Jordan Burroughs celebrates after defeating two-time World champion Denis Tsargush of Russia in the Olympic semifinals. Larry Slater photo.
LONDON – The U.S. finally has a wrestling finalist at the 2012 Olympic Games.
And it’s 2011 World champion Jordan Burroughs.
Burroughs delivered with a clutch performance, scoring two huge points late in the third period to outlast two-time World champion Denis Tsargush of Russia 3-1, 0-2, 2-1 on Friday afternoon before a sellout crowd of 6,500 fans at ExCeL North Arena 2.
With a large contingent of fans chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, Burroughs fired in for a double-leg takedown with 31 seconds left in the third and decisive period. While Tsargush tried to defend, Burroughs followed with a one-point pushout with 13 seconds left to lead 2-0.
Tsargush added a late takedown in the final seconds before time ran out.
The 24-year-old Burroughs clapped his hands while climbing to his feet before pumping his right fist after reaching the finals.
Burroughs now advances to face Iran’s Sadegh Goudarzi in the gold-medal freestyle match at 74 kg/163 lbs. at approximately 8 p.m. (3 p.m. Eastern) in London. The medal matches at 55 kg/121 lbs. are scheduled for 6:45 p.m. with the medal matches at 74 kg/163 lbs. following after that.
Burroughs, a New Jersey native, downed Goudarzi in the 2011 World finals and also beat him in the World Cup this year. Goudarzi also placed second in the World in 2010.
"Wow, this is awesome," U.S. Olympic Coach Mark Manning said. "Jordan didn't wrestle his best, but he really came through. He hit his signature shot, his patented double leg. Jordan showed a lot of character, and we haven't seen his best yet. Hopefully, he can put it all together tonight. It will be a clash. The Iranian is tough."
Burroughs would earn $250,000 from the Living the Dream Medal Fund with a finals win. He has already earned $50,000 by clinching at least a silver medal.
Burroughs knocked off Tsargush in the second round of the 2011 Worlds in Istanbul, Turkey.
The U.S. is looking to continue its long string of freestyle gold medals in the Olympics. American Henry Cejudo was the most recent after winning the Olympics in 2008. The U.S. has won 47 Olympic freestyle gold medals, including at least one in every Olympics it has competed in since 1972.
Burroughs opened with a dominating 4-0, 6-0 win over Francisco Soler of Puerto Rico. Burroughs showed off his full arsenal of leg attacks, finishing the match with a textbook ankle pick.
Burroughs followed with a hard-fought 2-1, 1-1 win over Canada’s Matt Gentry in the quarterfinals.
Gentry, an NCAA champion for Stanford who grew up in the U.S., took the lead with a second-period takedown before Burroughs rebounded to spin behind Gentry for a takedown after locking up a cradle with 25 seconds left. Burroughs won the second period by virtue of scoring last.
American Sam Hazewinkel dropped his first bout at 55 kg/121 lbs. to 2011 World bronze medalist Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan. Niyazbekov won 3-1, 2-0.
Nijazbekov opened by turning Hazewinkel with a front headlock to lead 2-0. Hazewinkel scored a one-point reversal and nearly turned his opponent with a gut wrench before Niyazbekov scored a reversal.
The second period was scoreless after two minutes and went to a ball draw. Niyazbekov’s color of blue was drawn and he finished in the leg clinch to wrap up the victory.
Hazewinkel was eliminated from his first Olympics when Niyazbekov failed to advance to the finals.
Hazewinkel and his father, Dave, are the only father and son from the U.S. to wrestle in the Olympics.
"It's frustrating," Hazewinkel said. "I felt like I should've made it to the semis. I'm upset but I'm going to keep my head up. It just didn't go my way. I feel like I let down the USA. I went out there and battled, but I made one mistake and the guy capitalized."
Day 7 of the eight-day Olympic wrestling tournament is scheduled for Friday at the ExCeL Center. Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. (8 a.m. Eastern Time) in London. Fans can watch a live webcast of the event on nbcolympics.com.
American freestyle wrestlers Coleman Scott (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC), Jake Herbert (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC) and Tervel Dlagnev (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) are scheduled to compete on Saturday. Scott wrestles at 60 kg/132 lbs., Herbert competes at 84 kg/185 lbs. and Dlagnev is at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Herbert won a World silver medal in 2009 and Dlagnev capture World bronze the same year for the U.S. All three wrestlers are competing in their first Olympics.
ExCeL Center, London, England
55 kg/121 lbs.
Dzhamal Otarsultanov (Russia) vs. Vladimir Khinchegashvili (Georgia)
74 kg/163 lbs.
Jordan Burroughs (USA) vs. Sadegh Goudarzi (Iran)
55 kg/121 lbs. – Sam Hazewinkel, Norman, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
LOSS Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan), 1-3, 0-2
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids)
WIN Francisco Soler (Puerto Rico), 4-0, 6-0
WIN Matt Gentry (Canada), 2-1, 1-1
WIN Denis Tsargush (Russia), 3-1, 0-2, 2-1
vs. Sadegh Goudarzi (Iran) in gold-medal match