Jordan Burroughs out of Tokyo Games after U.S. trials defeat: "It's not over for me"

Burroughs the only major name to miss out after losing trials as other Olympic and world champs Snyder, Maroulis, and Gray secure Tokyo spots

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

London 2012 freestyle wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs will miss his first major international championships after being surprised by Kyle Dake in two straight bouts at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Texas.

Burroughs, a four-time world champion in the 74-kilogram weight class in addition to his 2012 Olympic title, had made nine straight Olympic or World Championship teams since his senior debut in 2011.

However, Dake – a two-time world champion at the higher non-Olympic 79 kg – swept their best-of-three tilt to book his first Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020 and end Burroughs' 10-year run.

Dake's career record against Burroughs had been 1–7, but he was not overawed and won their first match 3–0, the first time Burroughs failed to record a point in over 200 senior matches according to NBC Sports. It was also Burroughs' first career non-tiebreaker loss to a fellow American.

The second match went 3–2 in Dake's favour, ending Burroughs' streak.

Burroughs, who turns 33 in July, indicated recently he intends to stay in wrestling beyond this year instead of switching to a career in mixed martial arts.

"It just sets in that a run is over for me," he said on American network NBCSN after his defeat. "The future is still bright for me, although it just might not be in Tokyo. It's not over for me."

For his part, 30-year-old Dake – a four-weight collegiate champion – will finally get to experience an Olympics. He lost the 86 kg Trials final in 2016 to J'den Cox, who went on to win bronze in Rio but will also not be in Tokyo after missing his trials 97 kg weigh-in.

"Jordan is one of the best we’ve ever had," Dake said in quotes reported on TeamUSA.org. "He’s a great ambassador for the sport and he’s really pushed me and motivated me.

"I’m happy with all of the work I put in to get here… I want to get the Olympic gold, that’s the goal."

In other weight classes, Olympic champions Kyle Snyder (men's 97 kg) and Helen Maroulis (women's 57 kg) will be returning to the Games.

Snyder won his series in straight matches against a former college teammate Kollin Moore after Cox's controversial exclusion from the trials.

Maroulis, meanwhile, needed just 22 seconds in a deciding third bout against Jenna Bukert, battling through a torn mediate cruciate ligament which she suffered barely two weeks ago.

Also making it back to the Olympics is Adeline Gray, who will be looking for redemption in the women's under-75 kg category after missing a medal in Rio.