Jordan Burroughs breaks U.S. wrestling record for Olympic, world titles

Jordan Burroughs
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Jordan Burroughs won his sixth world wrestling title, combining with his 2012 Olympic title to become the first U.S. wrestler with seven global gold medals.

Burroughs, 34, won all five of his matches over the last two days at the world championships in Belgrade in the 79kg division, which is not an Olympic weight class.

He beat Iran’s Mohammad Nokhodi 4-2 in Friday’s final, using his trademark double leg takedown, in a rematch of last October’s world final also won by Burroughs.

“I’m still at the top of my game,” said Burroughs, a father of four who won his first world title in 2011 and is 10-0 in medal matches between the Olympics and worlds. “Before every match, I always remind myself that I chose this. This is chosen suffering.

“Someone’s going to break this [record] one day. Today is my day.”

Burroughs, who said in June that he plans to retire after the 2024 Olympics (whether or not he makes the team), for years harbored a goal of breaking John Smith‘s American record of six combined Olympic and world titles. Adeline Gray complicated the quest by winning her sixth gold last October, as did Burroughs. Gray, 31, is on a break, giving birth to twins in July.

“I’m going until I absolutely can’t anymore,” he said Friday. “As of now, that day hasn’t come yet.”

Burroughs’ 10 medals of any color between the Olympics and worlds are second in U.S. history to Bruce Baumgartner‘s 13.

“I’m the standard now for USA wrestling,” he said. “I’ve been at this for 12 years, and there’s no one who can say that I don’t deserve this.”

Burroughs won his Olympic gold medal in 2012 in the 74kg division and competed there through last year’s Olympic Trials, where he was beaten by Kyle Dake. Burroughs then moved up to the non-Olympic 79kg division, since Dake received a bye into the October 2021 Worlds at 74kg as a reigning Olympic medalist (bronze).

Burroughs must move back into an Olympic weight class by 2024, likely returning to 74kg with an eye on dethroning Dake at Olympic Trials.

Also Friday, American David Taylor beat rival Hassan Yazdani of Iran 7-1 in a rematch of last year’s Olympic 86kg final (won by Taylor with a takedown with 17 seconds left) and last October’s world championships final (won by Yazdani).

Taylor, 31, “contemplated retiring multiple times” since his Olympic title in Tokyo and “was hurt all year, hardly could train,” due at least in part to knee swelling.

“I just didn’t know if I wanted to do it anymore,” he said. “I achieved my lifelong goal of Olympic champion. I believed if I could go to world championships eight weeks later, I’d probably be done. Going there and losing, it was hard.”

Two U.S. wrestlers won back-to-back Olympic titles, and just one in the last century — Smith in 1988 and 1992. Burroughs and Taylor are older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling gold medalist, according to Olympedia.org.

“My wife, my coaches, my inner circle of people, they just sat me down and said, ‘What do you want? You’ve earned the right to do whatever you want to do.’ I’m not a loser. I’m not going out losing [at the October 2021 Worlds],” Taylor said. “[Yazdani] is burning that fire for me to continue going. He’s that barrier between me and a gold medal in Paris. World championships are great, but people remember us for the Olympics.”

American Zain Retherford, the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Wrestler of the Year at Penn State, took silver in the non-Olympic 70kg division. Retherford on Thursday clinched his first world medal in his third appearance, then on Friday fell 10-0 to Japan’s Taishi Narikuni in the final.

Earlier Friday, past world champions J’den Cox (92kg), Thomas Gilman (57kg) and Dake advanced to Saturday gold-medal matches.

Wrestlers from Belarus and Russia are banned due to the war in Ukraine. Russian wrestlers won the most medals at the 2021 World Championships (18) and were second to the Americans with eight medals at the Tokyo Games.

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Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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