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|ALL HE SEES IS GOLD: Jordan Burroughs strikes gold by winning Olympic title
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Jordan Burroughs won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling on Friday night. Larry Slater photo.
LONDON – All he sees is gold
And a whole lot of cash
America has a new golden boy in wrestling after Jordan Burroughs made history by fulfilling his dream by capturing an Olympic gold medal and the $250,000 that goes with it before a sellout crowd of 6,500 fans on Friday night at ExCeL North Arena 2.
Burroughs, a 2011 World champion, lived up to his Twitter handle of alliseeisgold by scoring takedowns late in the first and second periods to down two-time World silver medalist Sadegh Goudarzi of Iran 1-0, 1-0 in the gold medal freestyle finals at 74 kg/163 lbs.
The 24-year-old Burroughs, a New Jersey native who trains at the University of Nebraska where he won two NCAA titles, hugged his U.S. coaches Zeke Jones and Mark Manning before running around all three mats with an American flag raised above his head.
Burroughs then jumped on top of the medal podium and raised the flag as fans stood and roared. He followed by climbing into the stands to celebrate with family, friends and USA fans during an emotional scene.
"I'm really excited," Burroughs said. "I've dreamed about doing this for a long time. I had a plan and I executed it perfectly, and now I'm Olympic champ. This is exhilarating, it's surreal. This is just pure joy for me."
The first period was scoreless before Burroughs powered in on a re-shot, driving Goudarzi to the mat with his trademark double-leg takedown with nine seconds left.
The second period was scoreless until Burroughs fired in on another double and finished with 11 seconds remaining.
Burroughs becomes the first U.S. wrestler to earn $250,000 from the Living the Dream Medal Fund, which is funded by the wrestling community.
Burroughs 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.
"Jordan had a confidence and a swagger - he obviously was ready," U.S. Coach Zeke Jones said. "He holds himself to a high standard. He wants to be the best in the World. He wants to be the greatest of all-time. He delivered his best match when he needed to in the finals. He put himself in pretty elite company now that he has won World and Olympic titles."
Burroughs sent out a Tweet on Thursday night that the next Tweet he would make would be as Olympic champion on Friday night.
"I'm confident and I have high standards," he said. "I knew I was going to win today. It's easy to be confident when you work as hard as I do. I would have had to change my Twitter name if I had lost."
Burroughs has talked about making a run at the six straight World and Olympic titles that John Smith, one of the U.S. coaches here in London, accomplished for the U.S. from 1987-92.
"I'm only 24, and I've got a lot of wrestling left in me," Burroughs said. "I want to be the best ever. Cael Sanderson won (in 2004), and he was done. Henry Cejudo won (in 2008), and he was done. I have plans to wrestle for a number of years. I want to be the face of wrestling. It's a great sport and I love competing in it."
The U.S. has now won 48 Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medals, including at least one in every Olympics it has competed in since 1972.
The last U.S. wrestler to win World-level gold medals in consecutive years was Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner in 2000 and 2001. The last U.S. men’s freestyle wrestler to do it was Kurt Angle in 1995 and 1996.
Burroughs is now a remarkable 38-0 on the Senior level in freestyle wrestling.
Burroughs pulled out a clutch win over two-time World champion Denis Tsargush of Russia in the semifinals.
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.
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.
Gentry finished fifth in his second Olympics.
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. Niyazbekov went on to place fifth.
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
Friday’s medal winners
55 kg/121 lbs.
Gold – Dzhamal Otarsultanov (Russia)
Silver – Vladimir Khinchegashvili (Georgia)
Bronze – Kyong-Il Yang (North Korea)
Bronze – Shinichi Yumoto (Japan)
74 kg/163 lbs.
Gold – Jordan Burroughs (USA)
Silver – Sadegh Goudarzi (Iran)
Bronze – Soslan Tigiev (Uzbekistan)
Bronze – Denis Tsargush (Russia)
55 kg/121 lbs.
Dzhamal Otarsultanov (Russia) dec. Vladimir Khinchegashvili (Georgia), 1-0, 4-3
74 kg/163 lbs.
Jordan Burroughs (USA) dec. Sadegh Goudarzi (Iran), 1-0, 1-0
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) – GOLD MEDAL
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
WIN Sadegh Goudarzi (Iran), 1-0, 1-0