MISSISSAUGA, Ontario -- Jordan Burroughs happily fielded a surplus of selfie and autograph requests after winning the men’s 74 kg. freestyle wrestling gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Burroughs, whose Twitter handle is @alliseeisgold, spent nearly 30 minutes greeting fans after his latest big win, all while remaining focused on the long-term plan.
“It’s just a stepping stone to where I want to be in Rio,” Burroughs said, referencing next year’s Olympics. “I knew that I wanted to be a Pan Am champion, but now I that I repeated here, I want to repeat in Rio.”
Much has changed for the 27-year-old since he hoisted gold at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. He’s stood atop wrestling’s highest podium at the London 2012 Olympic Games, took home a pair of world championship titles, got married and became a father.
Burroughs noted that the biggest difference between his Pan Ams experience from 2011 to now was the support – he didn’t have friends or family in Guadalajara rooting him on.
On Saturday, Burroughs’ wife Lauren and soon to be 1-year-old son, Beacon, were in attendance, as they are for most of his competitions.
“Life has changed drastically, but for the better,” Burroughs said. “I’m extremely excited that I get a group of people to share the success with. It’s been awesome. It’s been an awesome journey and they’re coming along for the ride and getting to experience it as well.”
Widely considered one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors, Burroughs has manifested his leadership experience into parenthood. But that hasn’t steered him from his goals of continuing to compete among the international elite.
Next up is the World Wrestling Championships, which make a return to the U.S. for the first time since 2003, held Sept. 7-12 in Las Vegas.
“This is just a stepping stone,” said Burroughs, who’s competed at the world championships since 2011, where he is 18-1. “It’s awesome. There’s nothing like it. This is my first time getting to compete in such a large event domestically. I’m excited."
Two other U.S. medalists from Saturday, Jake Herbert and Kyle Snyder, will also compete at the premiere event.
Snyder defeated Canada’s Arjun Gill, 10-0, at 97 kg., while Herbert took silver at 86 kg. after falling, 12-7, in the gold-medal match to the rugged Reineris Salas of Cuba. Zach Rey took gold in the men’s 125 kg., defeating Canada’s Korey Jarvis, 3-0.
USA Wrestling’s 16-member team took home 15 medals in Toronto, while Cuba took 13 and Canada and Venezuela both earned eight. It was a strong showing for Team USA as many of the U.S. athletes who competed at Pan Ams prepare to vie for world titles on home soil in September.
“It’s going to help a lot,” Snyder said of the collective experience. “I have a lot to work on, everybody else on the team has a lot to work on, and when you compete, you figure that stuff out.
“This is going to make us better for the world championships.”