Name: Jordan Burroughs
Sport: Freestyle wrestling, 74 kg
Hometown: Sicklerville, N.J.
Why you should care about him: Burroughs is the best in the world at his weight, and he really enjoys telling people that. He tweets from the braggadocious handle "@alliseeisgold." You can also go to alliseeisgold.com to buy yourself an "All I See Is Gold" t-shirt. The motto is a reference to the fact that Burroughs has been undefeated since his senior season at Nebraska. His last defeat came in 2009, in what was supposed to be his senior season. Burroughs tore his PCL and LCL in the first period of a match against Central Michigan. He managed to finish the match, but lost 3-2. (The injury caused Burroughs to miss the rest of the season, and he was granted a medical redshirt to return for a fifth season.) He proceeded to go undefeated in his final year with the Huskers, winning both his third Big 12 title and and his second NCAA national title. And he won the Hodge Trophy, wrestling's version of the Heisman.
If you judge Burroughs just by his tweets, he might seem like a bit of an asshole. But he toes that thin line between cocky and confident. In interviews he doesn't hesitate to flash a smile, while talking about how hard he trains, how badly he wants that gold medal, and how he relishes his role as the face of US wrestling.
Part of the reason why Burroughs is so successful is that he can't stand to lose; anything less than the best is unacceptable. From The Newark Star-Ledger:
His temperament for defeat finally boiled over in 2008 after a 10th-place finish at the Junior World Championships in Turkey. He cried for hours, the only calming feeling coming when he promised himself he would never lose again.
Burroughs' pursuit of Olympic gold borders on obsessive. He could have quit wrestling to take up MMA (and made more money in the process), but he wanted the gold instead. On the subject of wrestlers defecting for MMA, he told the LA Times:
If someone can be so easily pulled away by financial opportunities, then maybe they aren't as passionate about it as you'd want them to be. You want guys to basically die for a gold medal.
Burroughs is being rewarded for his sacrifice. His success has earned him appearances on Today and CNN, as well as a clothing deal and his own Topps trading card. That's unusual: U.S. wrestlers are largely anonymous. But Burroughs brings enough talent and charisma to interest Americans in a sport usually dominated by the members of the former Soviet Union.
Don't expect him to disappear after London either. Burroughs says he wants to win another gold at the 2016 Games in Rio, and then go into MMA. He is, however, slightly apprehensive of that brave new world: He's afraid of being punched in the face.
Olympic/world championships experience: This is Burroughs' first Olympics. He won gold at the world championships in 2011, just a few months after winning his second national title for the University of Nebraska.
Sexy-pose threat level:
Previous sexy pose:
Olympic archetype: Cassius Clay, the unbeatable self-mythologizing amateur.
Scouting report from some guy on the internet: Twitter user ""Andrew" (@TooRealASek):
Jordan Burroughs is the greatest athlete alive.
Scouting report from home country: From NBC:
The 2010/11 Hodge Trophy Winner (wrestling's Heisman) at Nebraska, Burroughs graduated in May and three weeks later won the U.S. Open. He added a world championship at 74kg that September. After claiming gold at the 2011 Pan American Games – the last major tournament before Trials – Burroughs firmly established himself as the man to beat at 74kg. In Iowa City, he showed some rust but there's no doubt he'll be in model form come August. With a twitter handle of @alliseeisgold, he'll be eyeing nothing less than perfection in London, and has a great chance to fulfill his dream of topping the podium.
Did you know?: WWE was what got Burroughs interested in wrestling in the first place. He used to throw down with a big Randy "Macho Man" Savage doll.
Forecast for 2012: Oh, he's gonna win gold.
Relevant Bob Costas facial expression: