Olympic athlete Ivan Manev lives in harmony with nature

Ivan Manev (first from the right) with the rest of his rowing team at Moscow Olympics, 1980Ivan Manev is part of the most successful Bulgarian generation of athletes who contributed to Bulgaria’s best performance on Summer Olympic Games in 1980. Ivan Manev earned bronze medal in the K-4, 1,000 m event. In the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow Bulgaria placed 3rd in the overall ranking with a total of 41 medals (8 gold, 16 silver and 17 bronze). Nine boats competed for the medals in 1980. We did not expect this success, because the Russian athletes were the top favorites in the discipline, Ivan Manev told Radio Bulgaria and added:

Training was very tiring. It took us time to realize what we actually did. We put in a lot of efforts to score these results. Men’s kayak is a very difficult sport.

Ivan Manev tried other sports before choosing kayaking, but he was rejected everywhere because of a “lack of talent”.

I was in the 10th grade when I first started to practice kayaking. In 1968 I won silver medal and in 1969 I earned gold in the junior competitions. In 1971 I won my first medal at European Rowing Junior Championships and this is how my successful career started.

Ivan is sixty eight now, but he can be seen quite often in his kayak in Pancharevo Lake near Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. Ivan Manev keeps fit with mountain hiking, running, swimming and cycling.

I have been training for fifty years now. It takes forty to fifty days for the human body to adapt to a more intensive training, physical pressure or a new diet. Then, the bar is put up higher and people should not stop or give up. That is why I have been training for such a long time. The water in Pancharevo rowing channel helps me get rid of all negative influence. The twisting motion, which is a typical motion in kayaking, is the only body motion which moves the internal organs of the human body and helps us lose weight. Even abdominal press is not as effective as this exercise. Our health condition depends on our internal organs.


Ivan Manev graduated mathematics at Sofia University Saint Kliment Ohridski. When he was a child he was interested in math jokes, physics and astronomy. Ivan came to the conclusion that mathematics helps people think in depth. He wrote the book The Key to Absolutism where he makes his philosophical studies of thinking. He contends that everything is due to the Absolute Harmony of God’s Love. Ivan Manev believes that we must start developing the thinking processes at a very early age.

Education develops people when it makes them more physically, mentally and spiritually active and brings us closer to God. Education must promote activity, skills and thinking in children. Children should know the sense of each word. We are what our habits are. That is why children should form physical habits, in order to endure emotional and mental pressure. Unfortunately, children are not physically and emotionally active nowadays and the number of children who practice sports and study arts is low. And most important of all – children must do everything with love, in order to improve their spiritual development. When our thoughts, feelings and actions are in harmony with nature we are filled with energy and feel young. When we are not in harmony with nature and God’s Will, we tire out and age quickly.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: private library

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