Jordan Burroughs enters World Championships on new streak after tasting defeat

Jordan Burroughs
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Jordan Burroughs will wrestle for his fourth straight global title at the World Championships on Tuesday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where, for the first time at an Olympics or Worlds, he will compete with a blemish on his international record.

Burroughs, the Olympic champion in the 163-pound freestyle division, suffered the first senior international defeat of his decorated career in a strange setting on Feb. 15.

A 4-4 loss via tiebreaker to countryman Nick Marable (video here) snapped an American record 69-match winning streak dating to 2011. Add in NCAA competition, and Burroughs had won 105 straight. His last defeat came in December 2009, in overtime, after he tore two ligaments in his left knee early in the match.

“I think it was God’s way of telling me I’m not perfect,” Burroughs told the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News in the spring. “Basically, there will be times in your career that if you don’t wrestle hungry, there is someone out there that is more hungry or as hungry as you.”

Burroughs agreed that the tournament where he lost, his first meet since winning the 2013 World Championship four weeks after breaking an ankle, had the atmosphere of a high school JV basketball game.

It happened in the quarterfinals of the Yasar Dogu International in Istanbul.

“It really wasn’t much in terms of the amount of people at the tournament,” Burroughs said in a phone interview while training in Rome last week. “I think in the wrestling community, it wasn’t too significant. … The atmosphere, it wasn’t really significant cheering. Everyone was whispering, ‘Oh, Burroughs lost.’ Other than that, it was a normal day.”

Burroughs figured his phone would explode with messages and notifications after the defeat, so he put it away to focus on securing a place on the podium. For the first time, he stood in the bronze-medal place when all was said and done.

“A lot of people only found out through social media, and weeks later,” said Burroughs, who also passed 100,000 Twitter followers in February.

Many still hadn’t known when Burroughs returned to the U.S. When they’d praise his undefeated record, he had to correct them.

“Actually, I lost,” he has said. Burroughs acknowledged the obvious, that this will be mentioned in many stories about him leading to Rio 2016. “It’s something that I’m prepared to talk about for a long time.”

Lauren Burroughs was pregnant with their baby boy at the time. Don’t you dare hang your head or be upset over the defeat, she told her husband. You’ve accomplished a lot, and you still have a great career ahead of you.

“It will always remain with me,” said Burroughs, known to flip over Monopoly boards growing up and with such a memory that he has said only two journalists picked him to win Worlds in 2011, out of a panel of about 25. “I hope I never lose again.”

So Burroughs, 26, started a new win streak in the most competitive division in U.S. wrestling, where he must stave off the likes of David Taylor and Kyle Dake, who combined to win the last three NCAA Wrestler of the Year awards.

(Marable, who said he felt really bad immediately after his landmark victory for putting a “roadblock” on Burroughs’ legacy, has dropped down to the non-Olympic 154-pound division and made the U.S. team for the World Championships.)

“I think the streak I’m on at three is a little bit more important [than the previous one],” Burroughs said in an interview while attending the NCAA Championships.

Burroughs feels harder to beat now than ever before, even though he needed a late rally to edge Taylor 7-6 at the U.S. Open in April. Burroughs then defeated Taylor by a more comfortable margin at the World Team Trials in June.

“Unfortunately, in order for me to fulfill my dreams, I have to kill his,” Burroughs said after beating Taylor for the only World Championships team spot in their weight class.

Burroughs’ new streak is now at 19. His international record is 88-1. He had hoped to reach 100-0 before that loss. He’s still aiming at 100 victories, which will come some time next year.

“If you consider just one loss in the last four years detrimental to my legacy, then you’re crazy,” Burroughs said.

But the bigger carrot has always been Olympic and World Championships.

“I want to win as many as possible,” he said. “When I hang up my shoes, I want to be recognized as one of the greatest to ever do it.”

Burroughs, a student of his sport, has always put the two-time Olympic freestyle champion John Smith on a pedestal.

“No matter what I do, John Smith is always going to be the greatest, not only in a number of people’s eyes, but my eyes as well,” Burroughs said.

He moved closer Smith by joining a handful of U.S. wrestlers to win three global titles with his World Championship last year. He and Smith are the only ones to do so in back-to-back-to-back succession. Smith won all six Olympic and World titles from 1987 through 1992, so Burroughs has plenty of work ahead.

“It doesn’t get easier,” said Smith, now a coach at Oklahoma State. “As you get stronger and better, the field chasing you gets stronger and better. You’re setting the pace for everyone else.”

Burroughs recently read a Michael Jordan biography, which got him thinking about the way he wants to retire.

“There’s nothing sadder than seeing somebody who was once great at their respective sport compete past their prime,” Burroughs said. “When you think of guys like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, guys who were complete animals in their primes, get knocked out later in their careers, and got older and less powerful and less fearful. They became human. I want to leave with that level of invincibility.

“When [Jordan] finished with the Bulls in 1998, he was perfect, almost invincible. Then he came back with the Wizards and tarnished his legacy. I don’t want people to ever say that Burroughs can’t wrestle.

“In terms of emptying the tank, I don’t want to finish off my career by not making a team or a step off the top of the podium into retirement.”

Burroughs’ plan for after the World Championships? Spend time with his son. They’ve bonded a little so far since his birth in July. Burroughs has carried him in a Moby Wrap, performed 5 a.m. diaper changes and joked that he spilled mustard from a roast beef sandwich on the boy’s head.

“I want to get a tattoo of my baby,” he said, a lighthouse on his left calf with the boy’s name, Beacon, on it. “It’s symbolic of a beacon of light, hope.”

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Faith Kipyegon breaks second world record in eight days; three WRs fall in Paris


Kenyan Faith Kipyegon broke her second world record in as many Fridays as three world records fell at a Diamond League meet in Paris.

Kipyegon, a 29-year-old mom, followed her 1500m record from last week by running the fastest 5000m in history.

She clocked 14 minutes, 5.20 seconds, pulling away from now former world record holder Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, who ran 14:07.94 for the third-fastest time in history. Gidey’s world record was 14:06.62.

“When I saw that it was a world record, I was so surprised,” Kipyegon said, according to meet organizers. “The world record was not my plan. I just ran after Gidey.”

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic 1500m champion, ran her first 5000m in eight years. In the 1500m, her primary event, she broke an eight-year-old world record at the last Diamond League meet in Italy last Friday.

Kipyegon said she will have to talk with her team to decide if she will add the 5000m to her slate for August’s world championships in Budapest.

Next year in the 1500m, she can bid to become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track and field event three times (joining Usain Bolt). After that, she has said she may move up to the 5000m full-time en route to the marathon.

Kipyegon is the first woman to break world records in both the 1500m and the 5000m since Italian Paola Pigni, who reset them in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m over a nine-month stretch in 1969 and 1970.

Full Paris meet results are here. The Diamond League moves to Oslo next Thursday, live on Peacock.

Also Friday, Ethiopian Lamecha Girma broke the men’s 3000m steeplechase world record by 1.52 seconds, running 7:52.11. Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shaheen set the previous record in 2004. Girma is the Olympic and world silver medalist.

Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway ran the fastest two-mile race in history, clocking 7:54.10. Kenyan Daniel Komen previously had the fastest time of 7:58.61 from 1997 in an event that’s not on the Olympic program and is rarely contested at top meets. Ingebrigtsen, 22, is sixth-fastest in history in the mile and eighth-fastest in the 1500m.

Olympic and world silver medalist Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic won the 400m in 49.12 seconds, chasing down Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who ran her first serious flat 400m in four years. McLaughlin-Levrone clocked a personal best 49.71 seconds, a time that would have earned bronze at last year’s world championships.

“I’m really happy with the season opener, PR, obviously things to clean up,” said McLaughlin-Levrone, who went out faster than world record pace through 150 meters. “My coach wanted me to take it out and see how I felt. I can’t complain with that first 200m.”

And the end of the race?

“Not enough racing,” she said. “Obviously, after a few races, you kind of get the feel for that lactic acid. So, first race, I knew it was to be expected.”

McLaughlin-Levrone is expected to race the flat 400m at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, where the top three are in line to make the world team in the individual 400m. She also has a bye into August’s worlds in the 400m hurdles and is expected to announce after USATF Outdoors which race she will contest at worlds.

Noah Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 100m in 9.97 seconds into a headwind. Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy was seventh in 10.21 in his first 100m since August after struggling through health issues since the Tokyo Games.

Lyles wants to race both the 100m and the 200m at August’s worlds. He has a bye into the 200m. The top three at USATF Outdoors join reigning world champion Fred Kerley on the world championships team. Lyles is the fifth-fastest American in the 100m this year, not counting Kerley, who is undefeated in three meets at 100m in 2023.

Olympic and world silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson won the 800m in 1:55.77, a British record. American Athing Mu, the Olympic and world champion with a personal best of 1:55.04, is expected to make her season debut later this month.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 12.98 seconds, becoming the first man to break 13 seconds this year. Holloway has the world’s four best times in 2023.

American Valarie Allman won the discus over Czech Sandra Perkovic in a meeting of the last two Olympic champions. Allman threw 69.04 meters and has the world’s 12 best throws this year.

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Iga Swiatek sweeps into French Open final, where she faces a surprise


Iga Swiatek marched into the French Open final without dropping a set in six matches. All that stands between her and a third Roland Garros title is an unseeded foe.

Swiatek plays 43rd-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova in the women’s singles final, live Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on NBC,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

Swiatek, the top-ranked Pole, swept 14th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-2, 7-6 (7) in Thursday’s semifinal in her toughest test all tournament. Haddad Maia squandered three break points at 4-all in the second set.

Swiatek dropped just 23 games thus far, matching her total en route to her first French Open final in 2020 (which she won for her first WTA Tour title of any kind). After her semifinal, she signed a courtside camera with the hashtag #stepbystep.

“For sure I feel like I’m a better player,” than in 2020, she said. “Mentally, tactically, physically, just having the experience, everything. So, yeah, my whole life basically.”

Swiatek can become the third woman since 2000 to win three French Opens after Serena Williams and Justine Henin and, at 22, the youngest woman to win four total majors since Williams in 2002.

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Muchova upset No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus to reach her first major final.

Muchova, a 26-year-old into the second week of the French Open for the first time, became the first player to take a set off the powerful Belarusian all tournament, then rallied from down 5-2 in the third set to prevail 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5.

Sabalenka, who overcame previous erratic serving to win the Australian Open in January, had back-to-back double faults in her last service game.

“Lost my rhythm,” she said. “I wasn’t there.”

Muchova broke up what many expected would be a Sabalenka-Swiatek final, which would have been the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 match at the French Open since Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the 2013 final.

Muchova is unseeded, but was considered dangerous going into the tournament.

In 2021, she beat then-No. 1 Ash Barty to make the Australian Open semifinals, then reached a career-high ranking of 19. She dropped out of the top 200 last year while struggling through injuries.

“Some doctors told me maybe you’ll not do sport anymore,” Muchova said. “It’s up and downs in life all the time. Now I’m enjoying that I’m on the upper part now.”

Muchova has won all five of her matches against players ranked in the top three. She also beat Swiatek in their lone head-to-head, but that was back in 2019 when both players were unaccomplished young pros. They have since practiced together many times.

“I really like her game, honestly,” Swiatek said. “I really respect her, and she’s I feel like a player who can do anything. She has great touch. She can also speed up the game. She plays with that kind of freedom in her movements. And she has a great technique. So I watched her matches, and I feel like I know her game pretty well.”

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