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Fresh and unsung U.S. Olympic medalists

Gold-medal wrestler Jordan Burroughs
Photo by Yuri Cortez
Gold-medal wrestler Jordan Burroughs
As always, the Olympic Games provided memorable sporting moments that will be talked about for years to come. Highlights of 2012 include Usain Bolt making history by winning three medals in back-to-back Olympics, and Michael Phelps becoming the most-decorated (and arguably greatest) Olympian in history. But with a limited amount of sports featured on the NBC primetime telecast, many athletic feats won't get the attention and respect they deserve. To be specific, let’s examine two athletes who not only won gold but are also primed to make history in future Olympic Games.

Outside of the wrestling and combat-sports community, Jordan Burroughs was a relative unknown despite his two NCAA titles and All-American status at the University of Nebraska. Burroughs’ success in college has caught the attention of the Mixed Martial Arts world to make the crossover. However, he had other plans by beginning his quest to become the greatest American wrestler ever. The 2011 World Championships saw Burroughs win the 74kg championship and made him a favorite to win gold in London. Burroughs embraced his role as the new star of American wrestling by changing his Twitter handle to @alliseeisgold. His confidence and swagger proved to be a valuable asset in defeating a difficult field of Iranian and Russian wrestlers. In the final, Burroughs achieved his destiny by overcoming his 2011 World Championship foe, Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi to claim gold. Along with extending his 38-straight international freestyle match winning streak, the 24-year old got a nice $250,000 bonus from the Living the Dream Medal Fund. When asked what his future held, Burroughs sees more championships and medals on the horizon. If he continues to win gold, he might be in line to replace Phelps as the face of the USA Olympic team.

17-year-old champ Claressa Shields
17-year-old champ Claressa Shields
The United States has always had a strong history in the sport of boxing in the Olympic games. But lately it has been struggling, with the men's team failing to medal for the first time in history. With talk of creating different plans to revitalize America's dominance in boxing, there was pressure on the women to deliver. For the first time, women were allowed compete in boxing. Most of the attention before the games went to Marlen Esparza who appeared in various commercials leading into London. Esparza captured the bronze in the flyweight division, but the youngest member of the team, Claressa Shields, earned the gold. Shields has a classic underdog boxing story growing up in a tough neighborhood in Flint, Michigan. Despite her personal struggles, Shields became the first woman to win a gold medal in women's boxing and was the only gold medalist for USA boxing. She's only 17-years old but experts are already stating she's the new face of boxing in America. With Holly Holm being unknown outside of New Mexico, Shields could fill the void that Laila Ali once had. And with Shields being fairly young, she’d surely excel in future Olympics, although she may capitalize on her newfound fameand turn pro. But if Shields turns her sights to the 2016 Rio Games, USA boxing future may lie with the women instead of the men.

 
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