It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for U.S. wrestlers at the 2012 London Olympics.
While the U.S. Greco-Roman grapplers failed to win a single medal at the Summer Games, Team USA freestyle wrestlers brought home a total of four medals, including two golds, for the greatest haul of freestyle gold since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta… and the biggest total medal count for U.S. wrestlers since 2000.
Winning gold for the U.S. were Jordan Burroughs at 74 kg/163 pounds, and Jake Varner at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.
The 23-year-old Burroughs, a two-time NCAA champ (2009, 2011) for the University of Nebraska, defeated three-time World medalist Sadegh Goudarzi of Iran, 1-0, 1-0, claim the gold medal on Aug. 10. Two days later, Varner, 26, a two-time NCAA champ (2009, 2010) for Iowa State, beat Valeri Andritsev of Ukraine, 1-0, 1-0, to win the gold medal in the final match on the closing day of the Olympics.
To show how golden the London Games were for the U.S… in each of the three previous Summer Olympics, only one freestyle wrestler had won a gold medal: Henry Cejudo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Cael Sanderson in Athens in 2004, and Brandon Slay at the 2000 Sydney Games. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, three U.S. freestylers — Kendall Cross, Tom Brands, and Kurt Angle – each struck gold.
In addition to gold medalists Burroughs and Varner, two other U.S. wrestlers earned bronze medals: Missouri Valley mat alum Clarissa Chun at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., and Coleman Scott, 2008 NCAA champ for Oklahoma State, at 60 kg/132 lbs.
In terms of total medals earned, Team USA’s success at the 2012 Olympics surpassed the medal count of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (one) and equal that of the 2004 Athens Games. U.S. wrestlers won six medals in Sydney in 2000.
Want to know more about the Olympics? Click on the “Olympic Wrestling” link to see links to College Wrestling Examiner’s articles on the 2012 London Olympics, including day-by-day recaps of how US wrestlers did at the Summer Games. And, for a complete list of all 125 U.S. wrestlers who have earned medals at the Olympics since 1904, check out this feature at College Wrestling 101.
College Wrestling Examiner’s Year in Review: For the fourth straight year, College Wrestling Examiner will be taking a look at the Top Ten Stories of 2012. Now through the end of this year, we’ll be posting our choices for the ten most significant stories in the world of collegiate wrestling.
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