LONDON — Wrestler Jordan Burroughs spent months boasting that all he could see was gold.
It’s not bragging anymore.
The 24-year-old American backed up that talk at the London Games, beating Iran’s Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi 1-0, 1-0 in men’s freestyle 74-kilograms to give the U.S. its first wrestling gold medal in London.
Burroughs beat Denis Tsargush of Russia in a gripping semifinal match Friday, then got past Goudarzi in a rematch of their world-championship bout in 2011.
Burroughs, who grew up in New Jersey, has won 38 straight international freestyle matches and is the first American wrestler to claim the $250,000 prize from the Living the Dream Medal Fund, a program designed to support U.S. wrestling.
Dzhamal Otarsultanov of Russia also won Olympic wrestling gold in men’s 55-kilogram freestyle, beating Vladimer Khinchegashvili of Georgia to give the Russians four wrestling golds at the London Games, tops of any nation.
Otarsultanov came through with his first Olympic gold by downing the 21-year-old Khinchegashvili 1-0, 4-3.
Burroughs had raised quite a few eyebrows when he made his Twitter handle to (at) alliseeisgold.
He lived up to it with a brilliant run in London.
Burroughs won his first two matches to set up a rematch with Tsargush, a two-time world champion that Burroughs beat in the 2011 world championships en route to the title.
It turned out to be the most gripping match of the Olympic tournament so far.
Burroughs owned the first period. But Tsargush scored on a takedown in the second and kept himself alive to set up a thrilling final frame.
Burroughs and Tsargush circled the mat cautiously for about 90 seconds before Burroughs — one of the quickest wrestlers in the world — launched himself at Tsargush’s legs for a takedown.
Burroughs opened the scoring in the final when he notched a double-leg takedown of Goudarzi with just nine seconds left in the first period. He clinched the final with a similar move late in the second.
The gold-medal final at 55 kilograms between Otarsultanov and Khinchegashvili was also quite wild.
Otarsultanov, who beat Russian star Viktor Lebedev for his country’s spot at 55 kilograms, won the first period by scoring from offense on a tiebreaking clinch.
Otarsultanov tied it at 3-all late in the second, and because he’d scored the last point he was in position for victory when Khinchegashvili drove him to the mat as time expired.
Nothing was called — even as the Georgia camp insisted that Khinchegashvili had exposed the Russian’s back for two points.
The Georgian looked positively despondent on the medal stand, even though at just 21 years old he’d won a silver medal.
The gold that Burroughs won also brought a deep sense of relief for the medal-starved Americans.
The U.S. entered Friday with just one medal; a bronze won by women’s freestyler Clarissa Chun. Burroughs was by far the best hope the U.S. had for a gold, and the fear was that if he fell short the Americans would go home without one.
As it turned out, Burroughs was right all along.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.