Sicklerville's Burroughs wins gold in freestyle wrestling

Posted: August 11, 2012

LONDON - Jordan Burroughs envisioned this moment for so long, he planned every detail right down to his celebration. But when it happened, it didn't go quite according to plan.

First he draped an American flag over his back and ran to the left side of the arena. Then the right. Finally, he darted across the arena yet again, hopped over a barricade, and climbed into the stands, all the way to section 410.

"I wanted to be with the fans and I knew my mom was in the section somewhere," Burroughs said. "My mom is only 5-foot-3 so she was like hidden from everybody."

Burroughs weaved through the crowd, high fiving everyone in sight, stopping to pose for pictures with strangers.

The celebration wasn't perfect, but the moment was.

Burroughs won the gold medal in the 74-kg freestyle competition on Friday at the ExCel Center, defeating Iran's Sadegh Goudarzi, 1-0, 1-0.

The win cemented a remarkable stretch of dominance for the 24-year-old Sicklerville native, who has now won 38-straight freestyle matches.

Burroughs has not lost a tournament since 2009. The streak spans back to Burrough's time at Nebraska, where he won the second of his two national championships at the Wells Fargo Center.

The streak also includes one world title and one Pan American Games gold.

"I've had big matches in my career, but this is the best," Burroughs said. "I expected to win and I always knew I would."

Said coach Zeke Jones: "You don't say something unless you really, truly believe you can do it. He really, truly believes he can do it."

The Winslow Township High graduate won three matches on Friday, including a semifinal against two-time world champion Denis Tsargush of Russia, to reach the final.

Burroughs, who had a gash over his right eye that bled several times during the morning session, was unflappable.

"It's easy to be confident when you put the hard work in that I do," Burroughs said.

The 24-year-old has now faced Goudarzi, the world No. 2, three times in the past year.

Of course, Burroughs has won all three contests. On Friday, he was methodical and assertive. With about 11 seconds left in each round, he executed his signature double leg takedown for the deciding points.

"I'm ready to wrestle anyone that will cross that line," Burroughs said. "If the Queen of England came out on the mat, I would probably double leg her."

The Queen is OK, as is Burrough's wallet. He is the first wrestler to claim the $250,000 reward from the Living the Dream Medal Fund, a program funded by the USOC and USA Wrestling.

It's an effort to keep some of the country's top wrestlers in the sport, though Burroughs doesn't need any incentive to come back.

"I'm trying to be that guy that can put us on ESPN," Burroughs said. "Poker is on ESPN more than wrestling is. I guess I just won the royal flush."

Burroughs graduated Nebraska in 2011, where he was given $800 a month for scholarship checks and sometimes had to decide between food or gas.

Now he will take his mother shopping, and celebrate by eating cotton candy that he stowed away in his suitcase before the competition.

The U.S. has won an Olympic freestyle medal in every Olympics it has competed in since 1972. Burroughs was Team USA's best chance to extend that streak, but by no means was he weighed down by the pressure.

A year ago, Burrough changed his Twitter handle to @alliseeisgold, while the location reads: "On Top of the the Podium."

A handful of supporters in the crowd - who broke out into "USA" chants several times - sported t-shirts that read, "All We See is Gold."

Finally, on Friday, their prophecy became true.

"I heard someone say these are made of like 92 percent of silver," Burroughs said. "But I believe mine is all gold."

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