WRESTLING: Do-it-all Dantzler aims for success at the highest level
For most athletes, training for the Olympics is a full-time gig, but for T.C. Dantzler it is just one aspect of his busy life. With a family, a wrestling career, and his own business to run, Dantzler's days are a whirlwind of activity."I am in a unique situation with a growing business,"Dantzler said."We are ranked among the top volunteer background screening companies in the country and are no longer a startup business but a standup business."A typical day for Dantzler means getting up before 5 a.m. to go work at the office, returning home to get the family up and his son off to school, training at the OTC, going back to the office, another training session, and maybe even returning to work before going home for the evening."I have a really good business partner, Jarvis Wyatt,"Dantzler said."Without him I could not be doing what I am doing. I am really comfortable in knowing that TC logiQ is taken care of. If I forget something at the office I know he will take care of it, and if I forget something personal he will help me out."While some people might not be able to handle this kind of hectic schedule, it doesn't seem to faze Dantzler. He's just as focused on his goal of making it to the Olympics and winning a gold medal as any of his contemporaries."He's had a great passion for the game, for life, for being successful in everything that he does,"said Steve Fraser, U.S. National Greco-Roman coach."With his business what he's done is remarkable." Thanks to a passion for wrestling and a great support system, Dantzler has been able to stay at the top of his game."I also have great support from my wife, Tanya,"said Dantzler."She really believes in my wrestling and in the business. My support system makes it all possible."Dantzler is the reigning U.S. World Team Trials and U.S. Nationals champion. He was part of the U.S. Greco-Roman team that won the World Championships in September 2007, placed fifth at the 2006 World Championships and is a five-time World Team member. Dantzler's years of experience have helped to give him an advantage in a competitive weight class."I think it's huge because I am able to recognize situations before they happen,"Dantzler said."Wrestling is a situations sport, and the more you wrestle the more situations you see. I've obviously seen a lot. I think this give me a huge advantage over my competitors."He is the wrestler to beat at 74 kg/163 lbs., but Dantzler's weight class has not yet qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games. As the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the U.S., the pressure is on Dantzler to secure an Olympic berth and hopefully bring home a medal from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The Pan American Championships present the next opportunity for the weight class to be qualified. The top finisher in the weight class will secure a berth for its country to the Olympics. Dantzler will represent the U.S. Greco-Roman team at that weight and is set to compete February 29 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo."The big key to the event is going out there and doing what I'm able to do and representing my skills,"Dantzler said."I'm going to have to keep guys down. I know guys are worried about my lift, I just have to stop guys from getting the escape. Once I keep them on the mat nobody can stop my lift, that's guaranteed. I have to go in there, get it down, and make my lift work."Recent wins at the Chicago Cup against 2007 World Champion Yavor Yanakiev from Bulgaria and a first-place finish at the Dave Schultz Memorial International have kept Dantzler on track as he approaches the Pan American Championships, and ultimately, the Olympics."It really keeps me humble,"Dantzler said."I wrestled up at 84 kg at the Schultz and lost a couple matches. I wrestled some really good guys. Coming off the win against the World Champ, coming off the win at the Dave Schultz where I didn't give up a point and outscored my opponents 49-0, wrestling up a weight sort of kept me humble."At the Dave Schultz, Dantzler challenged himself by not only competing in his weight class, but also wrestling up a class at 84 kg/185 lbs."I wanted to show my opponents that I am a little bit nutty, that I am ready to put it on the line every match, every period,"said Dantzler."It also helped me identify areas that I am weak in that I really didn't realize before."Three other wrestlers at the 2008 Pan American Championships in Dantzler's weight class medaled at the 2007 Pan American Games, including gold medalist Odelis Herrero of Cuba, silver medalist Sixto Barrera of Peru, and the other bronze medalist, Felipe Macedo of Brazil. This means that Dantzler must be ready to wrestle every time he steps on the mat; there will be no easy matches at the competition."TC has one main competitor, the Cuban, Herrero, not that we want to look past anyone,"Fraser said."The Cuban has beaten him three times. I don't think TC has beaten him yet. This is a big match and a big tournament. It qualifies the weight class for the Olympics."At the Pan American Championships, Dantzler will look to avenge two losses to Herrero; he was pinned in the finals at the 2007 Pan American Championships and lost in the first round of the 2007 Pan American Games."I'm focused on getting my chance in on top, getting on top of my opponent,"said Dantzler."I know Herrero's going to try to stand up and get out. I've been breaking down a lot of film on him. I watched how Harry (Lester) wrestled him. I've pretty much dissected him."At the Pan American Championships, Dantzler will have the home mat advantage, with the competition taking place at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, where he trains. This means he can go home to rest between matches, and he will have the support of friends and family. In 2000, Dantzler took part in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, placing third. In 2004, his weight did not qualify for the Olympics and he competed down a weight class at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. This experience has helped motivate Dantzler as he trains for the Olympics."It's a huge motivating factor to get this done and put this to rest so I can focus on getting on the Olympic team and winning a gold medal,"Dantzler said. Motivation also comes in the form of his teammates. Dantzler was part of the historic Greco-Roman team that won the title at the 2007 World Championship. The team has stayed focused since the win on continuing their dominance of the sport."Everybody wants to win a gold medal, everybody is pushing each other,"said Dantzler."We're not laying back on the World title. We want to go out there and show everybody what happened last year is going to happen this year. We've pretty much set the standard for how everyone wrestles Greco-Roman."Dantzler has trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center for many years, but in that time has not won a World Championship or Olympic medal. This year he plans to change that."TC gets up early to start the business day, works a lot of hours,"Fraser said."He's also dedicated to being at every practice. His dedication to his personal and business life will help him in his sports life. He and I are usually the last guys leaving the locker room every night after practice. That pays off."Dantzler is looking for success beyond qualifying his weight class for the Olympics and representing the U.S. in Beijing."Honestly, to be an Olympian and not come back with a gold medal wouldn't mean anything,"said Dantzler."It all goes together. Making the team is only a piece of the puzzle, but I want to complete the puzzle and bring back a gold medal."With such passion for the sport of wrestling and a strong competitive drive it is hard to imagine Dantzler being anything but successful. He definitely has his sights set on great things."To hear your national anthem in someone else's country, that's as big as it gets,"Dantzler said.