Kyle Dack finally qualified for the Tokyo Games at the age of 30 by defeating 2012 Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion Jordan Burroughs at the US Olympic Trials.
Five years ago, Kyle Dack was injured and ready to retire.
Although he had been one of America’s most successful freestyle wrestlers, he had several times achieved his tallest goals. Injuries to his labrum, biceps, arm, shoulder and leg played a significant role in his struggle.
He was also trying to outdo Jordan Burroughs – widely regarded as one of the best freestyle wrestlers of all time. Burroughs won an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and won four world titles in the 74 kg.
In 2017, DAC shifted its approach to rehabilitation and working with the help of a company called Functional Patterns. A change in fitness training that helped her recover from her injuries finally got her the result she had wanted for so long. He Beat Burroughs at this year’s US Olympic Trials To qualify for the Games for the first time.
At 30, Dack feels his time has finally come.
“I feel better than I ever did,” he said. “I feel like I did when I was a young teen. I just feel agile. I feel like I’m making all the right decisions. And I know I’m making the right decisions because I am now I’m not really in pain.”
Dack said that defeating Burroughs gives him the confidence to move to Tokyo, but he knows that doesn’t guarantee anything.
“I had to go out and perform at a level that was better than anyone had ever seen,” Dack said. “It’s great to do that, but that was never the end goal. The ultimate goal is to go out and be an Olympic gold medalist.”
Dack became a two-time world champion at a non-Olympic weight of 79 kg before dropping down to 74 to defeat Burroughs. To earn gold in Tokyo, DAC will likely cross paths with Italy’s Frank Chamizo and/or Russia’s Zaurbek Sidakov. Chamizo was a bronze medalist in 2016 in the 74kg in Rio and is the number 1 seed in Tokyo. Sidakov won the world title in 2019 with a weight of 74 kg.
“I think I’m just a better wrestler than all these guys,” Dack said. “I find that I’m more fluid in different situations and understand different aspects. In my opinion, the only way I can really lose is if I decide not to wrestle and I’m just a guy.” I stand in front
Dack’s swagger comes from a long run of success. At Cornell, he was a four-time NCAA champion, each coming in a different weight class. He finished third at the Olympic Trials in 2012 and second in 2016 before winning his two world titles.
Dack’s confidence began to rise after defeating Chamizo last July. DAC believes that his approach will give him an edge.
“Their execution and planning leading up to an incident is very different than mine,” said Dack. “I think he has a bit more laissez-faire. Mine is more regimented, like making sure I hit all these milestones before I get into a competition.”
Dack never encountered Sidakov. He has a lot of respect for her and would welcome the matchup.
“I think I’m a really, really tough matchup for him,” Dack said. “He’s strong and relies on hand-to-hand fighting and pushing people, but with some good shape and strength of my own, I feel like I can hold my own in those positions.”
Dack said that his mental attitude is the only thing that can stop him in Tokyo.
“My only focus is to dominate and really force the action, not by taking bad shots or taking unnecessary risks, but by not allowing them to just stand up and play pattycake,” he said. “And I want to go out and put them in a position where they feel threatened. I have to go wrestling.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.