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  • Kostadinova Raises the Bar for Bulgarian Olympic Committee


    (ATR) Bulgarian Olympic Committee president and high jump world record holder Stefka Kostadinova professes lofty new heights for the NOC as she embarks on her fourth term.
    Stefka Kostadinova with IOC president Thomas Bach (Bulgarian NOC)

    Kostadinova, standing unopposed, was re-elected for a new four-year term at the Bulgarian Olympic Committee General Assembly in Sofia on March 23.

    Kostadinova said she aims to uphold the BOC’s standing in the Olympic Movement, maintain a zero tolerance policy towards doping and witness Bulgarian athletes begin to return to the country's glory days at upcoming Olympics and European competitions.

    “My main task, together with my team, is to preserve the unity of the Olympic family of Bulgaria as we have done so far, to sustain the good reputation of the BOC before the IOC and the international sport structures,” Kostadinova tells Around the Rings.

    “It is very important that we recover our positions in the world of elite sport, especially in sports that we are traditionally strong,” said the 52-year-old Bulgarian NOC leader.

    One of the recent blemishes on the Bulgarian NOC was the ban of its weightlifting team for Rio 2016 following 11 positive doping tests during the Games qualification period.

    Kostadinova has been Bulgarian NOC president since 2005 (Bulgarian NOC)
    “This case was very complicated and it was not random that all the penalties were unprecedentedly reduced by IWF [International Weightlifting Federation] and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who twice cancelled the fine imposed to the Bulgarian Federation by the International Federation,” Kostadinova said.

    “Those were very clear signs by all international experts that in this case the Bulgarian athletes became the victims of negligence beyond their competence and responsibility,” said the Bulgarian NOC president and 1996 Olympic high jump gold medalist.

    “BOC did everything in its power and used all its abilities to discover the truth and not let this happen again, continuing its policy of zero tolerance of prohibited substances in the practice of sport.”

    Kostadinova noted that Bulgaria has top-ranked snowboarders and biathletes who could next February in PyeongChang claim the country’s first Winter Olympic medal since Torino 2006. Short track speed skater Evgenia Radonova won silver for Bulgaria at those Games.

    In terms of performance at the Summer Olympics, Bulgaria’s medal total has steadily declined every year since it took home 41 medals from Moscow 1980 and 35 in Seoul 1988. The Balkan nation only won three medals in Rio de Janeiro last summer, equaling its total from London 2012.

    “It is difficult and incorrect to make comparisons between the number of medals won now and 30 years ago,” Kostadinova told ATR. “The changes in this part of the world definitely have an impact on sports and on the accomplishments of the Bulgarian competitors in the Olympic Games.

    Kostadinova set high jump world record in 1987 in Rome (Bulgarian NOC)
    “I believe that Bulgaria will manage to reestablish its positions in the elite of some of the sports and lately we’ve had breakthroughs in sports that are not so traditional nationally.”

    In addition to remaining the women’s high jump world record-holder, Kostadinova’s sporting accomplishments include winning an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta 1996 and a silver in Seoul 1988.

    Kostadinova will celebrate the 30-year anniversary of her high jump world record this August 30. The Bulgarian sporting icon from Plovdiv set the untouchable mark of 2.09m at the 1987 IAAF World Championships in Rome.

    “This was an unforgettable experience,” she said. “Those 209 cm became some kind of a milestone in my life. I never expected the world record to last for so long and I believe it will be broken by a Bulgarian soon.”

    Written by Brian Pinelli

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