Rio de Janeiro, Brazil -- A pair of memorable wins -- including a nearly improbable six-point rally in his first round match -- highlighted Tervel Dlagnev's day in the 125kg bracket of the men's freestyle wrestling competition in Rio.
Making his second Olympic appearance, Dlagnev finished fifth at both the 2012 and 2016 Games. He went 2-2 on the day, upsetting the 2015 World silver medalist in the opening round and then advancing to the semifinals via a 3-2 win in the quarters. By vying for a bronze medal, Dlagnev continued his streak of wrestling for a medal in every tournament of his career.
OPENING ROUND THRILLER
Dlagnev got his day off to a dramatic start, falling behind in his opening-round match against No. 2 seed Jamaladdin Magomedov of Azerbaijan 5-0 with just two minutes left. But then things changed. And changed quickly.
Dlagnev finished on a takedown to cut the deficit to 5-2 and then tacked on a leg lace to draw to 5-4. Just a minute and a half remained, however, and Magomedov went into defense mode. Dlagnev, aggressively going after Magomedov's legs to secure the winning takedown, finished his attack with just 10 seconds left, scoring the winning points to upsetting the 2015 World silver medalist. The end result was a memorable six-point rally and date in the quarterfinals.
ANOTHER NAIL BITTER
Just like in the opening round, Dlagnev found himself in a match that went down to the final seconds when he was pitted against 11th-ranked Robert Baran of Poland in the quarterfinals. This time, however, Dlagnev was the one playing defense, nursing a 3-0 lead as the final minute ticked away. Despite giving up a late takedown, Dlagnev held on and punched his ticket to the semifinals with a 3-2 decision.
After a scoreless first two minutes, Dlagnev went in for a low single leg takedown and finished to give himself a 2-0 lead. The advantage increased to 3-0 on a pushout early in the second period and that proved to be the decisive score in yet another one-point win.
Following a short break, Dlagnev went back on the mat for his semifinal match against Komeil Ghasemi of Iran, the 2012 bronze medalist and 2014 World silver medalist. Ghasemi took Dlagnev down just seconds into the contest and then completed four gut wrenches to complete the 10-0 technical fall.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH
In the bronze medal match, Dlagnev drew the number one ranked wrestler in the world, Geno Petriashvili of Georgia. Unfortunately, like in the semifinals, Dlagnev shot low, was taken down and then gutted four times for a 10-0 loss. Despite the final two results, it was a gutty and gritty performance for Dlagnev, who nursed a back injury through much of his Olympic perpetrations (that injury forced him to miss the 2015 World championships).
On his back injury:
“I am not sure about my body. I wasn’t planning on wrestling out there (in the bronze-medal bout). I kind of got talked into going out there. Hopefully it means something to somebody.
I didn’t work out one day of training camp. My back locked up right when I got on the plane to leave to the Olympics. It has been a year fade. I made the Trials, but since then I have had five practices in the last four months. I have been just holding on, holding on hopefully for one big day. It didn’t go my way.”
After a post-college wrestling career that included a gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games, two Olympic appearances, five U.S. Open titles and two World championship bronze medals, Dlagnev will begin his tenure as an assistant coach with Ohio State beginning on Sept. 12. He has trained at the Ohio RTC since moving to Columbus eight years ago.
U.S. Men's Freestyle Wrestling
Carioca Arena 2 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Opening Round: Dlagnev over Jamaladdin Magomedov (Azerbaijan), 6-5
Quarterfinals: Dlagnev over Robert Baran (Poland), 3-2
Semifinals: Komeil Ghasemi (Iran) over Dlagnev, 10-0
Bronze Medal Match: Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) over Dlagnev 10-0