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At Age 32, Wrestling Champ Jordan Burroughs Ready For Third Olympics In Tokyo — And A Fourth In 2024

By Craig Sesker | July 16, 2020, 11:44 a.m. (ET)

Jordan Burroughs celebrate winning gold at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug.10, 2019 in Lima, Peru.


Jordan Burroughs just celebrated his 32nd birthday.

The American wrestling legend still has plenty he wants to accomplish.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist had talked about retiring after the current Olympic cycle, but those plans changed when he announced Wednesday that he will be moving from Nebraska to the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center after the Olympic Games Tokyo next year.

“The goal is to go through 2024,” Burroughs told TeamUSA.org Wednesday night. “I feel good and I feel strong. I believe I have more to give. I will take it a year at a time, but I’m still mentally dialed in. I still love the sport — I love what I do.”

Burroughs has trained out of Lincoln since arriving at the University of Nebraska in 2006, and in that time he won two NCAA titles for the Huskers, as well as an Olympic gold medal and four world titles. He also has won three world bronze medals.

However, he’d long been planning to move back closer to Sicklerville, New Jersey, where he grew up, and the opportunity to work with Olympic gold medalist Brandon Slay at the PRTC proved to be the right fit.

“Being in Philly, I will only be 23 miles from my hometown,” he said. “We’ve been thinking about moving back out there and being closer to our family. It was always my plan to go back home. My family means everything to me. Having them closer to us will help tremendously. Being close to my roots is special for me. I would have actually made this move a year earlier if the Olympics wouldn’t have been postponed.”

Instead, he’ll continue training in Nebraska through the 2021 Olympics.

“I want to see this cycle through with the Nebraska regional training center,” he said. “(Mark) Manning and (Bryan) Snyder will continue to coach me. They’ve been really supportive and gracious about everything.

“Nebraska is a place that feels like home. I’ve lived there for the second half of my life. It’s where I established myself professionally and as a man. This is where I learned to be successful. It’s a special place.”

Like most wrestlers, Burroughs has not been able to compete over the past several months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Nebraska wrestling room remains closed.

“I’ve been fortunate that I am able to train at a local wrestling club in Lincoln four times a week,” he said. “I’m back training again and working hard. Mentally, I still desire to learn more and improve.”

Burroughs said being home more has allowed him to spend more time with his family, including wife Lauren and three children.

“It has been great to be home and I’ve enjoyed the time with them,” he said. “If everything would have stayed on schedule, I would have been on the road preparing for the Olympics right now. So it’s been really nice to have more time with Lauren and the kids.”

While Burroughs remains bullish on his future, just qualifying for the Tokyo Games next year will be a feat.

The 74 kg. weight class that Burroughs has dominated for the last decade will have added competition for the U.S. Olympic spot with Kyle Dake, a two-time world champion at the non-Olympic class of 79 kg., planning to drop down a class. Two-time NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez is another contender in the loaded 74 kg. division.

Burroughs defeated Dake in a hard-fought, three-match series to make the 2017 world team before beating Martinez the last two years in the Final X that determined the world team spot.

Burroughs has made the last nine U.S. world and Olympic teams at 74 kg.

For all of his success, he’s on a quest for Olympic redemption in Tokyo. After taking the gold medal in London, Burroughs was favored to repeat in 2016 in Rio but went 1-2 and fell short of the medal podium.

Burroughs came back strong a year later and won his fourth world title in Paris before collecting world bronze medals in 2018 and 2019.

In addition to his accomplishments on the mat, Burroughs has been one of the sport’s leading ambassadors. He played an important role in 2013, competing in special events and serving as an athlete spokesperson when wrestling fought to stay on the Olympic Games program.

He has inspired thousands of young people and has a large following on social media. He’s also hugely popular in Iran, a nation where wrestling is the national sport. He has competed there twice at the World Cup and hopes to wrestle there again before he retires.

He has written numerous blogs and columns with insightful commentary on the sport and beyond.

“I’m a true believer that the greatest work I will ever do will not be on the wrestling mat,” he said. “An athlete’s legacy extends far beyond what they’re able to accomplish on the field of play. I have the ability and the voice to empower and lead the young men and women of the next generation, and I want to do that in the same place that I began.”

Burroughs was asked what his plan was after 2024.

“That’s a great question,” he said. “I want to get into entrepreneurship. College coaching isn’t for me. I really do like business. I want to create a high-performance center for athletes that include wrestlers and fighters. That’s something that interests me.”

Craig Sesker is a sportswriter based out of Waverly, Iowa. He has covered three Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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