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Olympic wrestler says God and wrestling saved him from self-destruction

Recommended by Alicia Purdy

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, July 23 2012 9:52 a.m. MDT

Tervel Dlagnev takes down Les Sigman, left, during their 120-kilogram freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials, Sunday, April 22, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa.

Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

Our take: U.S. Olympic wrestler Tervel Dlagnev was on a path of self-destruction until he found the sport of wrestling that let him become a three-time U.S. freestyle heavyweight champion and a 2009 world bronze medalist. Now, considered the best hope for the U.S. to take the gold in the sport, Dlagnev credits his Christian faith with helping to shape his determination and dedication to being the best and with helping him set aside a disrespectful, lazy attitude that almost caused him to miss out.

He was pudgy, lazy, disrespectful and on the verge of flunking out of his Texas high school.

His parents let him make most of his own decisions, which was their way of letting him experience the freedoms they didn't have before fleeing then-communist Bulgaria.

He swore like a drunken sailor.

Teachers called home all the time to complain about his behavior.

On July 27, Tervel Dlagnev will march in the Opening Ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad in London, representing not just the United States, but also the notion that, as an immigrant, the American dream is what you make it, and the final product almost never is what you expect.

Some say wrestling saved him.

Read more about Tervel Dlagnev on Cleveland.com.

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