Tervel Dlagnev considers his loss in the 2012 Olympic Games one of the hardest he’s taken in his career.
In the semifinals that year, he lost to Uzbekistan’s Artur Taymazov via pin. With separated cartilage in his rib cage, he went on to drop the bronze medal match to Iran’s Komeil Ghasemi, finishing fifth overall.
However, in 2019, Taymazov and silver medal winner Davit Modzmanashvili were both stripped of their medals after a failed drug test. Modzmanashvili competed for Georgia that year, but has represented Uzbekistan since 2017.
As a result, Ghasemi and Russia’s Bilyal Makhov were awarded a shared gold medal, while Dlagnev was awarded bronze along with Kazakhstan’s Daulet Shabanbay.
Now, three years after the reallocation was announced, Dlagnev was awarded his medal in Lincoln, Nebraska, during the Big Ten Wrestling Championships at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“Just want to thank the IOC, USA Wrestling, USOC for this opportunity,” he said in a March 6 press conference. “Obviously, it’s quite a ways out of the actual event, but still very much appreciated. And so I know there’s a lot of hard work, a lot of moving pieces to this. So I just want to show my gratitude for this moment.”
He said that if he knew at the time that he’d eventually be awarded bronze, some things would have changed, particularly how long it took him to recover mentally. However, he didn’t want to dwell too much on what could have happened.
“I went dark for a while and then dug myself out, kept competing, but I think if I would have known then I would have been like okay, I could have got back a little sooner,” he said. “But you know, this is the way God planned it so I’m going with it.”
Dlagnev said that he doesn’t feel a bunch of excitement about being awarded the medal, with the London Olympics being a decade behind him now. He does still value that he was able to officially be a part of Olympic history for his home country and accept the award in an arena full of people.
“This is a cool honor, I think. Historically, being a part of the Olympic medalists for USA Wrestling is a big deal to me, obviously, was a dream. And so a little unorthodox way to get there, but proud of it still,” he said. “I don’t have butterflies in my stomach, but I have gratitude and pride.”
The ceremony came on the final day of the Big Ten’s wrestling championships, where Nebraska finished seventh as a team. Dlagnev never competed for the Huskers, instead wrestling at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, but still has multiple connections to the program.
He’s currently a volunteer assistant on the coaching staff under head coach Mark Manning. Manning was an assistant coach for the U.S. Wrestling team in multiple Olympic Games, including 2012.
He was happy to see Dlagnev be presented with the award he’s had to wait so long for.
“I love justice being served, but I love that Tervel got what he deserved,” Manning said. “Because he worked hard for that.”
As a coach, Manning had nothing but praise for Dlagnev. He’s only in his first year as an assistant, but has served as a big help to the program and will continue to do so as they go into the NCAA Championships.
“He’s tremendous,” Manning said. “He’s a great asset to our program, he just fits right in with our culture and our team and he’s been wonderful to have here and he’s going to continue to do big things.”
If there’s one advantage of Dlagnev’s award ceremony being delayed, it’s who he gets to celebrate with. Not only was the ceremony in Nebraska, but he had his kids with him, who weren’t born yet in 2012.
“This is the stuff that it’s about,” Dlagnev said. “I mean, I’ll probably go put this somewhere and not look at it very often, but moments like this with family in Nebraska, friends, the people that went to London with me being able to celebrate one last time, so it’s pretty cool.”