For Jordan Burroughs, his timing for the 2012 Olympics was perfect. Burroughs had spent five years wrestling at University of Nebraska, graduating in 2011. A few months later, he won a world championship and kept riding that wave to a gold medal in London.
Then Burroughs began his next Olympic cycle by shifting into stereotypical adulthood with marriage in 2013 and having two children since then.
And he didn't even have to move.
After working as an administrative assistant for the Cornhuskers wrestling team in 2012-13, Burroughs became an assistant coach in 2014.
"It's different," Burroughs says of coaching. "It's a lot harder. I'll tell you that. It's very difficult to get young men to do the things you coach them to do. And so, that's what the job entails, but that's what makes it so great. If the guys already knew what to do on their own, then no coaches would have a job."
The situation in Nebraska was unique. Burroughs, the reigning gold medalist at 74 kg (163 pounds) who was training for another Olympics, spent time on buses and planes with NCAA athletes. Cornhusker wrestlers went to practice every day to get instruction from arguably the greatest active wrestler in the country, if not the world.
And they got more than just a wrestling education.
"I think being able to connect with the young men, and teach them the ideals of life and characteristics that they're going to need to succeed has been an awesome journey for me," Burroughs says. "I've been successful at every level so I just want to want to embark on this journey and show them the knowledge that I've attained through this incredible trip I’ve taken in the sport of wrestling. It's been fun, a lot of fun. It's difficult to do when you're trying to train and be the best wrestler in the world simultaneously, but it's been a very fun experience."
— Husker Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) November 20, 2014
To concentrate on his bid at a gold-medal repeat even more, Burroughs left his coaching post before the 2015-16 season, but he remained in Lincoln. Although he was back focusing on himself, Burroughs realizes how much coaching helped him grow as a person and athlete.
"You get to see the intricate details of the sport when you're coaching, and so you do a lot more teaching," he says. "As a wrestler, you're always getting information given to you, 'Do this, do that.' But as a coach, you are the one who is the instructor. It really helps me break down the small, minute details of the sport. I've watched a lot more video of opponents. I got to see the little intricacies of the sport. I got to teach guys about mental preparation, visualization and mental training. And so that really helped me in my preparation as a wrestler. That’s been huge and instrumental for me and my career. Because of the years that I spent in the Nebraska wrestling room, with those guys, it's really strengthened me both mentally and physically."
Although wrestling is more popular at Nebraska than most universities, it takes a clear back seat to football and basketball (shoutout Tyronn Lue). Burroughs, a native of Camden, New Jersey, finds solace in his adopted home. Unless he is swinging around his gold medal, he blends in around town.
"There are a lot of times where I can go around all day and not be recognized and be pretty incognito," Burroughs says. "That's what I appreciate about the small town of Lincoln. It's the capital of Nebraska, about 250,000 people, and so being in Lincoln, I'm a big fish in a small pond, but also sometimes I feel like a small fish and that's great. To be able to be in the public and not be recognized is also great. I appreciate that kind of invisible aspect of my life."
Burroughs, who spoke to ThePostGame on behalf of Chobani, is about to take that invisible coat off. The 28-year-old has a target on his back. The winner of three of the past four world championships at 74 kg (2011, 2013, 2015) and the last Olympic gold medal in 2012 (there are no world championships in Olympic years), Burroughs is the man to beat in Rio and he is No. 1 in the most recent world rankings.
Burroughs is attempting to become the second American to repeat as a wrestling gold medalist. John Smith is the only man to do so, winning the 62 kg crown in 1988 and 1992. Wrestling in Rio will take place Aug. 14-21.
"I've gained a newfound perspective and I try to enjoy every moment, knowing this won't last forever for me," Burroughs says. "And so, as I get older, I gain a little more perspective every single time out because I know that this could be my last opportunity doing so, whether it's age or someone being better than me that's on the up and coming, I just understand that it's going to be difficult to maintain excellence forever, so my perspective has definitely changed."
-- Carmelita Jeter Remembers Making The Switch From Basketball
-- Becky Sauerbrunn: Other Countries Reach Out About Equal Pay
-- Kitties Or Puppies? Her Biggest Fear? Get To Know Shawn Johnson
Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.