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|Living the Dream Medal Fund bonuses of $550,000 given to four 2012 U.S. Olympic wrestling medalists|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Jordan Burroughs with his $250,000 check are lifted up by Living the Dream Medal Fund stewards Mike Novogratz, Rich Tavoso and Dave Barry during reception in New York City. Gary Abbott photo
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Checks of a combined $550,000 were given to the four U.S. wrestlers who won medals for the United States at the 2012 London Olympic Games, during a reception at the Catch Roof in Manhattan on Wednesday night.
Receiving their checks from the Living the Dream Medal Fund stewards were Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner who each received $250,000 for winning Olympic gold medals and Olympic bronze medalists Clarissa Chun and Coleman Scott, who received $25,000 each for their efforts.
This innovative incentive program provided $750,000 to U.S. wrestlers in all three styles during the 2009-2012 Olympic cycle. This was the most bonus money awarded by any summer Olympic sport in the at the 2012 London Games through this wrestling program.
On hand to make the check presentations were Living the Dream Medal Fund Stewards Mike Novogratz, Dave Barry and Rich Tavoso were also in attendance. Stewards from the London Olympic cycle who were not able to attend the function include Art Martori, Stan Dziedzic, Dave Bunning and Joe Alpert.
Jordan Burroughs won an Olympic gold medal at 74 kg/163 lbs. in men’s freestyle and received $250,000.
“I want to thank you guys again. It is an awesome honor to be here. I am super proud of everyone. I am happy to be a gold medalist. Hopefully, we can get a lot more gold medalists in 2016,” said Burroughs.
Jake Varner won an Olympic gold medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. in men’s freestyle and received $250,000.
“I want to thank you. It is not easy doing what we do. What you do makes it easier for us. You help keep it stress free. Thank you so much for helping us,” said Varner.
Coleman Scott won an Olympic bronze medal at 60 kg/132 lbs. in men’s freestyle and received $25,000.
“It has been a couple of tough years for me. I went from being third in the country to third in the world in one year. I could not have medalled without these guys and everyone who was behind me. For me, I won the medal for everybody else, not for me,” said Scott.
Clarissa Chun, competing in her second Olympics, won an Olympic bronze medal at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. in women’s freestyle and received $25,000. She was fifth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me from day one. Some people call it redemption for my match for my medal. It wasn’t easy for me in my first Olympics. I had my own personal battles. Thank you for everyone who has been there for me, with words of encouragement, and who touched me in many ways. That drove me to train harder, not just for me, but for those who helped me,” said Chun.
Novogratz recognized the amazing efforts of USA Wrestling leader Al Bevilacqua for spearheading the administration of the public fundraising part of the program.
“The stewards did a lot for the Living the Dream Medal Fund. The reason we did this was to connect the wrestling community. We wanted to connect our fans to the Olympic movement. No one did more for this than Al Bevilacqua, who ran the grassroots campaign. Thousands of people donated $10, $50, $100, $1,000 to the fund. He was the heart and soul of the Living the Dream Medal Fund,” said Novogratz.
Earlier in the evening, members of the U.S. Olympic Team in both men’s freestyle and women’s freestyle made an appearance at an Olympic Wrestling Team Thanks America tour celebration at the Beat the Streets Manhattan Training Center in New York City.
Young wrestlers and their coaches from all over the metropolitan area came to the public rally. National Coach Zeke Jones and Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner spoke to the fans and answered their questions. The athletes signed autographs, posed for photos and videos with the kids, and mingled with those in attendance.
It was the second successful stop of this tour, which was kicked off in Orlando, Florida two weeks ago. The final tour stop will be held in the Los Angeles area on December 19. More details to come.
The Freestyle National Team has also held a training camp this week, along with their guests from Russia. The camp is being hosted by Edge Hoboken wrestling club, located in Hoboken, N.J. It is the second straight year that Freestyle Team USA has trained in this popular club location in New Jersey.