A lavish show starring some of the British pop music idols such as Oasis, Pet Shop Boys, Spice Girls, Annie Lennox, The Who, George Michael and Pink Floyd, closed the 30th Summer Olympics in London on Sunday night. Hundreds of brilliant athletes from across the globe marched in the stadium to bid good-bye to the British capital and to make a wish to meet again in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
It was hardly surprising that the United States of America leads the unofficial chart by nations with 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze medals, or the total of 104. China is second having snatched 87 medals, of them 38 gold, 27 sliver and 22 bronze. The hosts from Great Britain are third with 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze distinctions. With more medals but fewer Olympic titles the athletes from Russia have come fourth: 82 medals in total, of them 24 gold, 25 silver and 33 bronze ones.
Unfortunately in this chart Bulgaria shares the 63rd to the 68th positions with Estonia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Puerto Rico and Taiwan, with just a single silver medal and a single bronze one won during the Games. In this way the Bulgarian athletes have seen their poorest Olympic performance for the last 60 years. In 1952, this country won a single bronze medal that was historic being the first-ever Olympic distinction for the nation.
Most paradoxically, the athlete who achieved the greatest Olympic success for Bulgaria this year, was probably one of the most disappointed medalists in London. For a second consecutive time wrestler Stanka Zlateva
has failed to win the Olympic gold. This time she could not dominate over Russian Natalia Vorobieva. In this way the five-time world champion reminded us of great Bulgarian wrestler, Alexander Alexandrov who had numerous successes and medals in wrestling with a single exception, the Olympic gold.
Much happier is boxer Tervel Pulev
, a bronze medalist who was defeated at the semifinal by the indisputable No. 1 iamateur boxing, Alexander Usik of Ukraine. The rest of Bulgarian boxers – Detelin Dalakliev, Alexander Alexandrov and Stoyka Petrova played well and reached the quarterfinals.
Though he failed to win a medal, there is a Bulgarian athlete who has won the admiration of the world – 39-year-old gymnast Yordan Yovchev
. He has become the first participant in six Olympic Games and on top of that qualified for the final and finished 7th in the rings event.
The Bulgarian volleyball side
gave a really good performance in London. The team recovered successfully from a major row that shook the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation and from the difficult time it had during the Olympic qualifications. To make things worse, head coach Radostin Stoychev and two key players, Matey Kazyiski and Andrej Zhekov, left the team. Against this background, the young national side led by Nayden Naydenov, was a small sensation ranking fourth in a very close tournament. This has been the greatest Olympic success for Bulgaria’s volleyball following the silver medal won back in 1980 in Moscow.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov himself a former athlete and active in karate, football and tennis, has praised Bulgarian Olympic athletes. This however can hardly conceal the huge problems of financing sport in this country coupled with the poor condition of mass sport and with training kids and juniors. So, instead of criticizing Bulgarian athletes, we should better give them their due because they have worked very hard – Milka Maneva and Ivan Markov ranked fifth in weightlifting, the rhythmic gymnasts ended up sixth in the group all round, Silvia Miteva was eighth in the individual all round in the same sport; marathon swimmer Petar Stoythcev ranked ninth in the 10 km open water marathon swimming.
Let us hope that the praise that Bulgarian athletes received from top Bulgarian politicians during the Games will not remain as a good memory from London but will have its follow-up in more efforts and funding dedicated to the development of Bulgarian sport. In the end, the results in Rio will show whether this has happened at all.
Translated by Daniela Konstantinova