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Rejuvinated Jordan Burroughs chases redemption at 2021 Wrestling World Championships

After failing to make the USA Olympic team for Tokyo 2020, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist has reinvented himself, and is the heavy favourite to land gold in Oslo, Norway.
By Andrew Binner

It’s a new weight category, but the same goal as usual for freestyle wrestling star Jordan Burroughs at the 2021 Wrestling World Championships: gold.

After losing out to Kyle Dake for a place on the USA Olympic team at Tokyo 2020, many wondered whether the London 2012 Olympic champion would hang up his singlet. Perhaps he would cash in with a lucrative Mixed Martial Arts or WWE contract.

But knowing he had plenty more to give in his own sport, Burroughs decided to double down on wrestling, but not as we've seen him before.

After an astonishingly successful decade in the 74kg bracket, the New Jersey native moved up to 79kg. The move proved a masterstroke, as Burroughs swept all those before him at September’s USA World Team Trials in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In the final, he secured a 10-5 victory over Alex Dieringer in the first match, before sealing the tie with a 4-3 win in the second to secure a place in his 10th world championships team, alongside Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion David Taylor, Rio 2015 gold medallist Kyle Snyder, former double world champions Kyle Dake and J’den Cox.

He wrote on social media after making the team: “Today I woke up with a full belly and full heart. I’m thankful for the love that I’ve received from all the meaningful people in my life.

READ: Everything you need to know about the star-studded 2021 Wrestling World Championships: Preview, schedule and athletes to watch

Chasing history

But it’s not only gold Burroughs is chasing in Oslo, 2-10 October.

History is also in his sights.

Right from the start of his professional career, the man who changed his Twitter handle to @alliseeisgold has been chasing Barcelona 1992 Olympic gold medallist John Smith’s US record of six World and Olympic gold medals combined.

With one Olympic and four world titles in the bag already, Burroughs just needs one more gold medal to make that dream come true.

Fitness question mark

The major hurdle Burrough must overcome to make history is fitness.

The 79kg men’s freestyle category is not as deep in talent as other weights at the world champs in Oslo, meaning that if he is 100% fit, Burroughs, as the only former senior world medallist, will be the strong favourite to win gold.

However, questions have already started circulating in this area.

Following his final match at Trials against Dieringer, a painful-looking leg injury was causing Burroughs to limp noticeably.

Two of his key rivals in Norway - Radik Valiev (ROC) and Nika Kentchadze (Georgia) - will need no second asking to exploit such a weakness in Burroughs’ armory.

But the Nebraska graduate is used to proving the doubters wrong. Even if Burroughs isn’t 100%, he is a master in match management and energy conservation with a world-class defence, and that extra motivation caused by doubters may well spur him on to more heroics in Norway.

Jordan Burroughs’ newest fan

As if gold medals, history and doubters weren’t enough motivation for Burroughs at worlds, he has also has a new baby to make proud.

The 33-year-old recently announced on social media the birth of his fourth child - named Banner Jordan Burroughs - with wife Lauren Mariacher.

Paris 2024 on the horizon for Jordan Burroughs?

Competing at 79kg on the world stage will undoubtedly be one of the biggest tests of Burroughs' career.

He has often said that 79kg would be his ideal weight class, but has ignored the division as it is a non-Olympic category. Now, it's time to prove his worth there.

If he can pin down another world title, not only would Burroughs equal Smith's record and enhance his legacy further, but he would also demonstrate that he is good enough to potentially wrestle for Team USA at the Paris 2024 Olympics in just three year's time.