US wrestler Burroughs comes through with gold

A year ago, Jordan Burroughs changed his Twitter handle to


On Thursday, Burroughs promised to tweet a picture of himself

holding the Olympic gold medal. He delivered on Friday night – on

the mat and on Twitter.

The boastful 24-year-old American backed up all his talk,

beating Iran’s Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi 1-0, 1-0 in the men’s

freestyle 74-kilogram division to give the U.S. its first wrestling

gold medal at the London Games.

”A lot of people call it cocky, people call it over

confident,” Burroughs said. ”But I knew I was going to win.”

Burroughs beat Denis Tsargush of Russia in a tight semifinal,

then got past Goudarzi in a rematch of their world championship

bout in 2011.

Burroughs, who grew up in New Jersey, has won 38 straight

international freestyle matches and is the first Olympian to claim

the $250,000 prize from the Living the Dream Medal Fund, a program

designed to support U.S. wrestling.

An hour after beating Goudarzi, the tweet-happy Burroughs made

good on his word, posting a shot of himself beaming beside his


He won’t have to change that boastful handle either – at least

not until the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

”It’s easy to be confident when you put the hard work in that I

do,” Burroughs said.

Also, Dzhamal Otarsultanov took the men’s 55-kg freestyle

category, beating Vladimer Khinchegashvili of Georgia to give the

Russians four wrestling golds at the London Games, tops for any


Burroughs woke up tight on Friday, not surprising considering

the expectations he put on himself. He got over his nerves and beat

his two biggest rivals for the title.

Burroughs won his first two matches to set up a rematch with

Tsargush, a two-time world champion that the U.S. star beat in the

2011 world championships en route to the title.

It turned out to be the most gripping match of the Olympic

tournament so far.

Burroughs owned the first period. But Tsargush scored on a

takedown in the second and kept himself alive to set up a thrilling

final frame.

Burroughs and Tsargush circled the mat cautiously for about 90

seconds before Burroughs – one of the quickest wrestlers in the

world – launched himself at Tsargush’s legs for a takedown.

Burroughs opened the scoring in the final when he notched a

double-leg takedown of Goudarzi with just nine seconds left in the

first period. He clinched the final with a similar move late in the


The gold brought a deep sense of relief for the medal-starved


The U.S. entered Friday with just one medal; a bronze won by

women’s freestyler Clarissa Chun. Burroughs was by far the best

hope the U.S. had for a gold, and the fear was that if he fell

short the Americans would go home without one.

No worries.

As it turned out, they should have just listened to Burroughs

all along.

”He can be the face of American wrestling,” U.S. freestyle

coach Zeke Jones said. ”He’s put himself in a position to become

one of the greatest wrestlers ever.”

Otarsultanov, who beat Russian star Viktor Lebedev for his

country’s spot at 55 kgs, earned his first Olympic gold by downing

the 21-year-old Khinchegashvili 1-0, 4-3.

”I felt responsible. My family and country were waiting for me

to perform,” Otarsultanov said.

Otarsultanov won the first period by scoring from offense on a

tiebreaking clinch. Otarsultanov tied it at 3 late in the second,

and because he had scored the last point he was in position for

victory when Khinchegashvili drove him to the mat as time


Nothing was called – even as the Georgia camp insisted

Khinchegashvili had exposed the Russian’s back for two points.

The Georgian looked positively despondent on the medal stand,

even though he had won a silver medal.

”I know I am only 21, but I feel sad because I had a chance to

win a gold medal and that may not happen again,” Khinchegashvili