2012 Olympic Gold Medalist
Copywriter, T. Scharfenberg | Photography, J. Fischer | Videography, C. Wild
The Price of Gold
We hear it's going up. At least according to Jordan Burroughs, who knows exactly what it takes to bring home Olympic gold.
The process starts early. Back in elementary school, Jordan was just an eager athlete who brought home his elementary school's wrestling team flyer. Before long, Jordan became a dominating high school wrestler, taking match after match from opponents. During his high school career, he gathered three district championships, two regional titles, and a Senior National Championship, with a final record of 115-20.
Jordan then moved on to the University of Nebraska to face his next set of challenges. "I was a one-time state champ in high school. We had four-time state champs on our team in college so I really had to do something to separate myself physically and mentally from the rest of my teammates. I had to make a name for myself amongst my coaching staff and basically the country, so I tried to work as hard as I could. It was extremely tough." And that hard work paid off as Jordan earned himself a starting spot on the team as a freshman.
As a sophomore, he picked up his first Big 12 title. Then Jordan get really serious, packing his junior year with an incredible 17 wins over ranked opponents and the breaking of Nebraska's record for takedowns with 117. He picked up a second Big 12 title on his way to also grabbing an NCAA championship.
Then, just as he was riding high, Jordan suffered a devastating knee injury. Tearing his LCL and PCL, he was sidelined with surgery and an eight-month recovery period. Combined with a satisfaction of what he'd accomplished, this could have been the end of Jordan's career. "I had a little bit of complacency after my junior year of college where I won a national title and felt as though I had done everything I planned to do in college. But I remained hungry, got my love back for the sport, and was just enjoying what I did. It was less of a job and more of a fun activity and a hobby for me, so that's what made it cool."
Good thing, because after redshirting and returning as a fifth-year senior Jordan was unstoppable. In fact, he hasn't finished in anything but first place in any tournament he's entered since 2009. He returned from his injury at 165 pounds of pure strength to complete his final year at Nebraska. This absolutely incredible year was completed with a third Big 12 championship, a second NCAA championship as a #1 seed, and a Hodge Trophy.
After graduating, Jordan took a little break. It was three whole weeks before he won the 2011 US Open. Not one for slowing down, Jordan joined the US world team. Continuing his dominating streak, he became just the fourth wrestler to ever win the NCAA Championship and the World Championship in the same year. This gained him a qualification for the 2012 Olympics and a trip to London, where Jordan accomplished his lifelong dream of holding Olympic gold.
Jordan told us that hearing his fans say he's been their motivation motivates him in return. Feeling the need to share his success with these fans, Jordan tweeted his gold medal picture just 20 minutes after being named the Olympic champion at 163 pounds. That was only after running over the stands and jumping the railing to hug his biggest fan of all, his mom.
Now, Jordan is already looking forward to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. "For me, I prepare by looking at the big picture, keeping it all in perspective. I want to be the best in the world. I've accomplished that and now I want to continue to be the best in the world. I know everyone's gunning for me and that's a motivator. So when I step in the wrestling room, I know I have to work harder and outwork all my opponents and everyone out there in the world. I don't know how they're training specifically, I don't know what they're doing, but I know what I'm doing and I'm doing it as hard as I can."
Jordan reminds young wrestlers everywhere that "no goal is impossible" with hard work. And he means it. So much so that he added it to his body with a tattoo that reads "Dream It, Do It."
Want more from Jordan? Check out @alliseeisgold on Twitter or take a look at the videos for wrestling tutorials below. To see what else happened on set, take a look at Jordan's photo outtakes, including one where he flips our Eastbay interviewer. Jordan told us "no matter how good a takedown looks, they're all worth the same amount of points." Still, Jordan's takedowns look pretty good, especially because of our Eastbay staff. Ok fine, maybe just because of Jordan. We're no gold medalists, but we like to do our part, too .
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