Jordan Burroughs: I’m on wrestling’s Mount Rushmore after third World Championship

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Jordan Burroughs won his third World Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas on Saturday, capping the most successful U.S. performance at a World Championships since 2006 (total medals) or 1995 (gold medals).

Burroughs, who in 2014 lost at an Olympics or Worlds for the first time, while grappling with an MCL sprain, mercy ruled Mongolian Pürevjavyn Önörbat 10-0 in the 74kg freestyle final to reclaim his World title at the Orleans Arena on Saturday.

Burroughs, 27 and wearing golden shoes, celebrated by slapping the mat, smiling and raising his right index finger in the air before the referee raised his arm.

“I made it back,” Burroughs repeated while wearing an American flag, adding later to reporters, “It’s been a hard year … a lot of doubt … a lot of unknowns, uncharted waters.”

Burroughs became the third U.S. men’s wrestler to win at least four combined Olympic and World Championships, joining Bruce Baumgartner and John Smith. Burroughs won the 2011 and 2013 World titles and the 2012 Olympics.

“I’m like almost to the peak of my wrestling ability,” Burroughs told media in Las Vegas before the match Saturday, “and then it’s going to be on the decline.”

Next year, Burroughs can join Baumgartner, Smith and George Mehnert as the only Americans to win multiple Olympic wrestling titles.

“When I think of the Mount Rushmore of wrestling, I definitely can say I’m on it now,” Burroughs said.

Burroughs has said — and repeated Saturday — that his eye is on Smith’s American record of six combined Olympic and World titles.

“I might not be the best wrestler technically, but I think I have the biggest heart in the entire world,” said Burroughs, adding that he needed four stitches above his left eye after his second of six matches Saturday.

Overall, the U.S. won four gold medals at the World Championships, its most in one year at a Worlds or an Olympics since 1995. It earned seven total medals this week, its highest total since 2006.

Burroughs came off what he called the hardest year of his life in 2014.

His 105-match winning streak dating to 2009 was snapped in February of last year, and though he welcomed baby boy Beacon that July, Burroughs sprained an MCL wrestling at Worlds in Uzbekistan and was later defeated by Russian rival Denis Tsargush. Burroughs settled for a bronze medal and saved a photo on his smart phone of Tsargush beating him.

“I’ve been a little bit beaten up by life,” Burroughs said. “A lot of people forgot about what I was capable of.”

Burroughs also added coaching duties to his plate, as an assistant at Nebraska last fall.

“It was really trying in terms of me staying focused to be the best wrestler in the world, me being the best husband in the world as well as the best father,” Burroughs said. “There were a lot of nights where I had absolutely no energy to be either of the three.”

Burroughs, who has a tattoo of a lighthouse beaming with a light in honor of his son’s name, slept in a different room in his Vegas hotel than his wife and Beacon on Friday night.

“These are some of the sacrifices I’ve got to make,” Burroughs said. “I’m like, babe, I love you, but I’m going downstairs to my room. I’ve got to get some sleep.”

It was a wise decision. Beacon was up at 4:30 a.m., Burroughs said.

Burroughs has compared his rivalry with Tsargush to that of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Tsargush, who also won the 2009 and 2010 World titles before Burroughs began wrestling internationally, was not on the Russian team at Worlds this year though.

Burroughs said it was a little bit anticlimactic to regain his World title without getting a shot at Tsargush.

“You want to beat the guy that’s beaten you,” he said before the final Saturday. “I thought about it a lot this year. It really fueled me and gave me hunger to be better and to be prepared for this event.”

Perhaps the most exciting point of the entire week in Las Vegas came during Burroughs’ semifinal against a different Russian earlier Saturday. Russian fans began chanting, and home fans silenced them with an ear-splitting U-S-A chant (at the 6:15 mark here).

MORE WRESTLING: Video: Jordan Burroughs rips phone book in half

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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