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Huddleston: ‘Bulgaria Will Be Back’
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Born in the Netherlands to a Bulgarian mother and an American father, recent Challenge Cup of Mersin medalist David Huddleston of Bulgaria told IG he is hopeful that the once-mighty country he represents internationally can regain its former gymnastics stature.

“I of course strive to succeed,” said Huddleston, who earned the first Challenge Cup of his career when he won silver on vault in Mersin, Turkey, on September 1. “Not just for myself, but to help and show the world that Bulgaria, once on the top of the world in gymnastics, will be back sooner or later.”

Huddleston’s gymnastics journey is unique and indeed international. He was born in the Hague, the Netherlands, and lived in the Caribbean for eight years. He has lived “on and off” in the U.S. for a total of about five years, and in Bulgaria for a total of about six years.

“We have traveled a lot throughout the years,” Huddleston said.

Huddleston said he owes his gymnastics career to his mother, Gergana Georgieva, a former track athlete in her native country. She runs her own trucking company in Texas, assisted by Huddleston’s father, Herbert Justus Huddleston, who used to work for a solar company.

“My mother was the reason I started gymnastics in general,” said Huddleston, who holds dual citizenship with Bulgaria and the U.S. “She is an ex-athlete and saw potential in me as a gymnast. She made me do the splits every day and taught me how to do a back flip. In 2007 my mother was talking with my now coach, Damyan Ignatov, on the phone, and she took a big step of moving from the Caribbean to Bulgaria just so I could train with him.”

Huddleston also thrived while training in the U.S. during a couple relocations. He first trained under coach Vladimir Artemev at 5280 Gymnastics in Colorado, and later under 1988 Olympic all-around champion Vladimir Artemov (not to be confused with Artemev) in Texas. Later he trained at Alamo Gymnastics in Texas and then under coach Ryan Maskell at Powerhouse Gymnastics in San Antonio. “He is such an amazing coach and person,” said Huddleston of Maskell. Ignatov, with whom Huddleston now trains in Sofia, is responsible for his more recent progress.

“I am very thankful for him,” said Huddleston of Ignatov. “He was the one who pushed me and advanced me into being a better gymnast.”

Huddleston said he believes the current and future generations of Bulgarian gymnasts can thrive with more financial support. As another example of their potential, teammate Yordan Aleksandrov won two medals in Mersin and one medal at the Challenge Cup of Szombathely, Hungary, the following weekend.

“It's sad to know that the country you compete for was once at the top and now it's not — not even close,” Huddleston told IG. “In my opinion it all has to do with finances. We have a lot of young talented gymnasts that I dearly want to see, future-wise. I want them to succeed. We have really good gymnasts overall. It's just that, in my opinion, money is what's lacking. We don't go to many competitions to show what we can do.”

Huddleston now looks to qualify for next summer’s 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo through his performance at next month’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“My plan to go to Tokyo is through the World Championships,” he said. “I will be doing my all-around performance.”

Check out David Huddleston on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidhuddleston_/

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