Jordan Burroughs, the world champion in freestyle wrestling, says that he's focused on taking home gold in the London Olympics.
If you want to know the goal of Olympic wrestler Jordan Burroughs this summer in London, you don’t even have to ask him – just go to his Twitter page.
The reigning world freestyle champion and favorite to win the gold in the 74-kilogram weight class goes by the Twitter handle @alliseeisgold; his Twitter page shows him standing in front of an American flag. At 13,700 followers and counting, he is hoping to have plenty more fans hop on the bandwagon as the American wrestling team's best hope to reach the top of the podium this summer.
“It was always my dream to be an Olympian, (and win) an Olympic gold medal,’’ Burroughs said on TODAY Friday. “Starting off as a kid, it’s hard to realize those dreams at such a young age, but now I’m big, strong, healthy, and I can be a gold medalist soon.’’
Burroughs, 23, is a former University of Nebraska star from Winslow Township, N.J., who started wrestling as a kid when he weighed only 45 pounds. From those humble beginnings, he went on to become a state champion in 2006 at 135 pounds and then won an NCAA title in 2009 as a junior at Nebraska.
A year later, he tore two knee ligaments that ended a 44-match winning streak. But then he roared back as a fifth-year senior after a medical redshirt to win the Dan Hodge Trophy as the nation’s top collegiate wrestler in 2011.
Last month, Burroughs earned his spot on the Olympic team after opponent Andrew Howe defaulted during their bout because of a knee injury. Many wrestlers struggle with the transition from the collegiate wrestling style to the different freestyle wrestling of international competitions, but Burroughs has made the switch seamlessly. He was the only American wrestler to win gold in the World Championships in Istanbul this past September, and then added a gold medal in the Pan-American Games.
“I was successful at a number of levels, I feel as good as I’ve ever felt in my career, and it was an easy transition for me,’’ he said Friday. “I feel good, I’m ready to go in London, and I’m just practicing hard right now.’’
The United States has won a gold medal in each of the last two Olympics, and Burroughs is the clear favorite to be the one to make it three in a row this summer. He said he is up to the challenge.
“I’m just getting mentally focused,’’ he told TODAY. “I’m really prepared right now. It’s been a number of years that I’ve been training for this event, so it’s a huge opportunity to me, a lifestyle changer for winning the gold medal. Right now I’m just focused on the task at hand and going out there and wrestling hard.’’
Burroughs' TODAY interview took place outdoors on Rockefeller Plaza against the backdrop of a large, clamorous crowd waiting excitedly for R&B superstar Chris Brown to perform.
“I wish I’d get to meet him,’’ Burroughs joked. “I don’t know if I’m famous enough yet.’’
If he lives up to his Twitter handle, setting up an introduction should be no problem.