Olympians Among Us

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George Ivanov

Assistant wrestling coach, Georgi Ivanov. Photo courtesy of Jordan Coker.

Georgi Ivanov is known as George around campus, but to his fans he is known as BUL Nightmare. He was born in Bulgaria, but moved to the states as a child. Ivanov was predestined to wrestle as his father was a part of the Bulgarian National Wrestling Team first, and from the young age of 5, George started his wrestling career.

For the Love of Wrestling

Ivanov explained that to do well in wrestling, you have to completely alter your lifestyle. The more you commit, the more you get out of it. Countless hours of training, eating right and staying in a positive mindset traits that make winners. Unlike other sports, wrestling is completely individual, Ivanov trains for him and himself only.

I love that you don’t rely on anyone once you step on the mat. It’s you against your opponent and whoever is more prepared that day, wins.

Sports Sponsors

Although he’s never truly considered himself a great wrestler, two large companies, Nike and BodyBuilding.com, believed in him enough to sponsor him. It takes a very talented and skilled athlete to get great sponsorships like these, “It’s humbling that two of the most well-known athletic companies in the world sponsor me. I still can’t believe it.”

In Rio, Nike had a house where all of the athletes they sponsored were invited to visit. In the house, there was a wall that all of the athletes sign. I cannot describe how it felt to be included with so many amazing athletes.

Future Plans

As assistant wrestling coach here at Maryville, Ivanov has already given back to many younger wrestlers. Although he is not sure where wrestling will take him in the distant future, he now is focusing all of his attention on the wrestlers here to prepare them for their competition season.

I would like to thank Dr. Lombardi, Marcus Manning, Jeff Miller, Coach Denney and everyone who supported me on my way to my Olympic journey. Thank you.


Giordan Harris

Giordan Harris of the Maryville University swim team. Photo courtesy of Jordan Coker.

Giordan Harris has fought hard to earn all his accomplishments thus far. Raised on Ebeye, one of the Marshall Islands, “Swimming in the ocean is something that everyone did, but competitive swimming isn’t something that happens,” said Harris.  Around the age of 6, Harris started his schooling at the military base on a neighboring island. There he met one his best friends, who convinced him to join the swim team. It was not until he was 12 and was traveling to his first international meet that his family started to realize just how accomplished Harris would become.

I remember being terrible when I started, but I eventually fell in love with swimming and just rode the wave to where I am now.

A Natural Love for the Water

Harris says that he was attracted to swimming, because it is a hardworking sport. Even after making both the national swim and basketball teams, he still thinks swimming is the harder, because of “the practice to performance ratio,” as he says. In a single practice, Harris will swims between 9,000 and 12,000 meters, but when it comes to competition time, his race is only 50 meters or under 25 seconds.

Growing up, I was only supposed to play basketball. When I decided to swim, everyone thought I was crazy.

2 Olympics, 2 Cities

Harris says his mother, Mary, has been with him every step of the way. Having sacrificed so much, it was special to be able to share his first Olympic experience with her during the 2012 Olympics held in London. He says swimming in the games was a dream come true and wants to keep chasing it, so look out for him at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Before we walked out in the opening ceremony during the 2012 Olympics… in that moment hearing the crowd screaming, all the emotions hit me. I was happy. I was proud. I was excited. I was scared. I was nervous. Every emotion hit me.


His mother started the first Marshallese swim team, The Martial Island Swim Federation, and built it from the ground up. Giordan aspires to further establish the team and help young swimmers achieve their goals.

In addition to helping with the swim team, Harris also wants to travel around the Pacific teaching children how to swim. According to Harris, drowning is extremely prevalent among the islands. He believes that the right exposure to water will lead to less drownings, and he wants to aid in that mission first hand.

Everyone assumes that because you are from an island and around the ocean all the time, you can swim. That’s the way people always view it, but because we are surrounded by water, there is more opportunity to drown.

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