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Young athletes often fantasize about competing in the Olympics, but very few have the opportunity. That dream could become reality, however, for Georgi Ivanov, assistant coach for Maryville’s NCAA Division II wrestling team and an assistant in the University’s admissions office.
In September, Ivanov will represent Bulgaria in the wrestling World Championships, a qualifying tournament for next summer’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I am so happy and honored,” he says. “It’s a dream come true.”
Ivanov has wrestled since age three when his father, a coach, got him started. “Bulgaria has a rich history in the sport of wrestling,” Ivanov says. “It’s a big tradition.”
Born and raised in Bulgaria, Ivanov moved to the U.S. nine years ago. He wrestled at the University of Nebraska-Omaha for Coach Mike Denney, who is now in his fourth season coaching Maryville’s wrestling team. After finishing his education at Boise State two years ago, Ivanov moved to St. Louis to assist his former coach.
Ivanov, who has never stopped wrestling, doubled his weekly training sessions this year from five to 10 to prepare for competition. He recently won the national wrestling tournament in Bulgaria, allowing him to compete on the world stage next month. If Ivanov places in the top five, Bulgaria automatically earns a spot in the Olympics for the 74kg (163 lb.) weight class. While it’s likely Bulgaria would then pick Ivanov to compete, he wouldn’t know for certain until a month before the games.
“With the support from Maryville University, I’m able to go for my goals and compete,” he says. “I want to see how far I can go with it.”