Jordan Burroughs’ second career loss and one-day wrestling

Jordan Burroughs is pushing for the title of best U.S. wrestler of all time. He’s 92-2 in his international career, with two world championships and Olympic gold. (Hence the Twitter handle: @allIseeisgold)

The second of those losses might merit an asterisk, as the headline implies: Jordan Burroughs sprains MCL, wins bronze at World Wrestling Championships | OlympicTalk.

To give credit where it’s due: Russia’s Denis Tsargush, who beat Burroughs, is a former world champion himself and the man who has given Burroughs a couple of tough matches in major events.

But seeing Burroughs lose on a hobbled leg raises a question: Are wrestling and other combat sports better off in the current format of running through an entire weight class in one day?

The format is still relatively new in wrestling. (It’s older in judo.) In 2000 and 2004, wrestlers had two or three days of competition, starting with small round-robin pools before advancing to a knockout bracket. By 2008, they switched to one day per weight class.

Maybe a different format couldn’t have helped Burroughs recover from his injury in time to have another classic match with Tsargush. But what are the advantages to making wrestlers do everything in a day? It doesn’t add any drama. Broadcasters, let alone reporters, have no time to build the story of a wrestler, particularly an underdog, moving through a tournament to the final.

When wrestling was placed on the Olympic chopping block last year, FILA reconsidered its rules but left the one-day format intact. Bloody Elbow’s Mike Riordan sees a better way:

The NCAA Division I wrestling championships stand alone as the true gold standard when it comes to well-attended television-friendly amateur wrestling tournaments. At the NCAAs, all weights compete simultaneously in six sessions spread over a three day period. The semifinals, which determine the match ups for the finals, take place at the end of day two, and the finals take place at the end of the third day. This creates a situation where all of the event’s most anticipated matches fall on a Saturday night, with a whole day left before them to ensure proper coverage, allow for decent marketing, and maximize fan anticipation.

If FILA seeks to eventually optimize the product of its World Championships and Olympics, then it needs to eventually abandon the one-day model, and continue to progress into a format which resembles the NCAA championships.

The NCAA doing something right while the international organizer gets it wrong? Go figure.

Woly Award: Jordan Burroughs rules the mat

Wrestler Jordan Burroughs is the winner of this week’s Woly, the weekly award for U.S. Olympic-sports athletes.

I used to give this award for USA TODAY, and it continued for a while after I departed. They stopped, so I’m restarting.

Burroughs, the Olympic and world champion, capped a big weekend for his sport with two massive wins, running his international record to an astounding 54-0. He needed to rally to win his match against Russia’s Saba Khubetzhty at Wednesday’s “Rumble on the Rails,” but under new international scoring rules, he roared past the same opponent Sunday in Los Angeles.

The USA lost to Iran in the first head-to-head matchup Wednesday at Grand Central Terminal, rebounded to swamp Russia, adapted after Iran withdrew from the L.A. event, then won seven matches in L.A.

A couple of other events from Olympic sports last week:

TRACK AND FIELD: “WL” = “world list,” the top performances in the world this year.

At the Diamond League meet in Shanghai, the USA’s Jason Richardson and Ryan Wilson finished 1-2 in the men’s 110 hurdles and moved into first and third on the world list at 13.23 and 13.25.


Other results:

Men’s 400: Kirani James (JAM, 44.02) and LaShawn Merritt (USA, 44.60) top two WL.

Women’s 100: Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM) 10.93, top WL.

Women’s 400 hurdles: Top two WL: Zuzana Hejnova (CZE, 53.79) and Angela Morosanu (ROU, 53.85).

Men’s long jump: Top two WL: Li Jinzhe (CHN, 8.34) and Aleksandr Menkov (RUS, 8.31)

Men’s javelin: Top two WL: Tero Pitkamaki (FIN, 87.60) and Vitezslav Vesely (CZE, 86.67)

Men’s 3,000 steeplechase: Top seven times WL, all Kenyans. Winner: Conseslus Kipruto, age 18, 8:01.16.

Women’s 5,000: Top eight times WL, all Kenya and Ethiopia. Winner: Genzebe Dibaba (ETH, 14:45.92)

In Los Angeles, three U.S. runners moved into third, fourth and fifth on the world list: Jennifer Simpson (2:00.45), Phoebe Wright (2:00.58), LaTavia Thomas (2:00.68). No. 1 is 2:00.33. Also, Mary Cain demolished the U.S. junior record in the 1,500 (4:04.62).

In Ponce, Puerto Rico, U.S. hurdler Johnny Dutch ran a world-leading 48.02 to upset the host country’s Javier Culson (48.36, 2nd WL).

CYCLING: Tejay van Garderen proved he can win a multistage race and that a cyclist can win a multistage race with a newborn at home. He’s the new Tour of California champion.

The rest of the week in Olympic sports: the U.S. men won bronze in ice hockey’s World Championships, U.S. women won eight gold medals in Continental Championship boxing, and Olympians Brady Ellison and Khatuna Lorig won mixed-team gold in the archery World Cup opener.