SINGAPORE – Jenna Burkert (Middle Island, N.Y.) wrapped up competition on a high note. She defeated Christiana Victor of Nigeria, 3-1, in a tight final match in the women’s freestyle wrestling -60 kg weight class to finish fifth on Monday at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
“Like everyone else, I was here to win. I came up a little bit short, but I pushed through, and I got fifth and I’m happy,” Burkert said. “I had to pull my head out a little bit. The last 20 seconds, I didn’t know if I could pull through and I was really just doubting myself. Then my coach was like, ‘you’re not out.’
“I remember looking up and looking at my mom, and she traveled such a long way here,” Burkert continued. “I knew no matter what, she’d be happy. But, I wanted to get that fifth place, I wanted to get my hand raised.”
Burkert dropped two close matches to open the pool rounds at the International Convention Center. She fell 0-3 to both Pooja Dhanda of India and Dzhanan Ahmed of Bulgaria. In her third match, she notched a quick, 4-0, defeat of Natasha Puteri of Singapore to give her momentum heading into the fifth-place match.
“She had a great finish,” said head coach Mark Halvorson. “She opened up and went for it. She wrestled to win the match at the end and won. That was a touch match and the weight class was really loaded – I can’t believe the depth in that class.”
Battsetseg Baatarzorig of Mongolia defeated Pooja Dhanda of India to win the weight class, while Svetlana Lipatova of Russia took bronze. Find complete results HERE.
Burkert will be a senior at Marquette High School in Michigan, where she participates in the U.S. Olympic Education Program at Northern Michigan University. She was named the 2010 ASICS Girls High School Wrestler of the Year. Burkert was a 2009 Junior Nationals champion and 2010 Junior Nationals runner-up. She also won the 2010 USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle Nationals.
Team USA concludes wrestling competition on Tuesday, Aug. 17, with boys freestyle competition. Two wrestlers will represent the U.S.: Quinton Murphy (Holley, N.Y.) in the -63 kg weight class and Jordan Rogers (Spokane, Wash.) at -76 kg. In the pool rounds, Murphy will face Amadeus Pereira (Guinea-Bissau), Mohamed Boudraa (Algeria) and Bakhodur Kadirov (Tajikistan). Rogers will go against Victorin Kouagou (Benin), Amr Ali (Egypt) and Christopher Aguon (Guam).
The wrestling lineup features 112 athletes – 80 men and 32 women – with eight participants in each weight class. An additional wrestling competition at the Youth Olympic Games, beach wrestling, will be held on Saturday, August 21 at Siloso Beach on Sentosa Island. This event is open to all YOG athletes in all sports. The U.S. wrestlers will have the opportunity for another competition if they enter the Beach Wrestling tournament.
Jenna Burkert: “This competition has been tremendous. It’s really prepared me for the Olympics, maybe 2012 or 2016. It gives you a whole feel for it – they’ve got the lights on you and a bunch of spectators and it gets your nerves.”
Head coach Mark Halvorson: “This was good from a developmental standpoint, wrestling at an international level. She learned a lot of what it takes. We were talking about the difference of being at this level fundamentally what you have to work on or concentrate on.”
About Team USA
The U.S. Team in Singapore is comprised of 82 athletes in 18 sports, the maximum number of qualified U.S. athletes. Team USA is competing in aquatics (swimming and diving), archery, badminton, basketball, boxing, equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, judo, modern pentathlon, sailing, table tennis, taekwondo, track & field, triathlon, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling. Complete information on Team USA can be found at youtholympicgames.teamusa.org.
About the 2010 Youth Olympic Games
Singapore is hosting the inaugural Youth Olympic Games from Aug. 14-26, 2010, as young athletes age 14-18 compete in 26 sports and take part in the Culture and Education Program. Approximately 3,600 athletes from around the world will participate, and all 205 National Olympic Committees will be represented. The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games aim to inspire youth to embrace, embody and express the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. More information can be found at www.singapore2010.sg.