NEW YORK (Reuters) - Decorated U.S. wrestler Jordan Burroughs, who suffered a devastating defeat at the Rio Olympics, continues a mission to regain his swagger at Wednesday’s Beat the Streets meet against Japan.
Burroughs and team mates including U.S. Olympic champions Kyle Snyder and Helen Maroulis, and 2016 world champion Logan Stieber grapple with Team Japan wrestlers in 11 outdoor matches in Times Square to benefit wrestling programs in the New York City area.
The 2012 Olympic gold medallist and three-times world champion, Burroughs entered the Rio Games with a 130-2 record in international competition but was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Russian rival Aniuar Geduev in the 74 kg weight class.
”It was devastating. I still feel the ramifications of it now,“ Burroughs told Reuters on Tuesday. ”I‘m still the guy I was back then, but I‘m trying to get back to a place where I carry that swagger back to the mat.
“When you win and you’re successful, there’s this confidence you exude when you come out. Getting back to that place is really key for me.”
Burroughs, 28, said he has every intention of returning to prominence and expects to be fighting for Olympic gold at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
He said he still has no answers for his Rio fizzle.
”I have driven myself mad thinking about it,“ he said. ”Did I lose it, or did something take it from me. Was it a lack of preparation, a lack of a game plan, or just the ebb and flow of a match.
“So many things you could attribute it to that I’ve just kind of given it up and chalked it up to a bad day.”
Burroughs said the experience has made him appreciate his love for the sport more than ever, even with the responsibilities that come with helping to raise his two young children.
“I‘m one of the best in the world at what I do and I can still wrestle at a high level,” he said.
“I still love it.”
Burroughs will be matched against 2014 world silver medallist Sohsuke Takatani in the 74 kg match.
Snyder, who became the youngest American wrestler at age 20 to win an Olympic gold, will go against Koki Yamamoto in the 97 kg match.
Maroulis, the first U.S. woman wrestler to win Olympic gold, is matched against junior world champion Yuzuru Kumano in the 58 kg division.
“This is really an amazing event. It’s really powerful,” said Maroulis. “You get to wrestle world class competition on a mat in the middle of Times Square. A lot of kids are watching.”
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Toby Davis