Federation Friday: Bulgaria


Federation Friday: Bulgaria

April 15, 2016

Having produced true gymnastics legends like Iordan Iovtchev and Maria Petrova, the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation shows us the huge popularity and importance of the sport in their country!

Last February 24 Encho Keryazov and Iordan Iovchev staged in the Bulgarian capital Sofia the fifth edition of the inspiring and breathtaking charity show "Night of Stars".  It consists of a phenomenal sports and circus art meeting in an impressive and glamorous variety show inspired by the friendship between Iordan Iovchev and Encho Keryazov whose Foundation organises this charity initiative for talented children. The venue is the Armeec Arena, home of the 2014 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships!

“FRIENDS” was the motto of this generous meeting between the world of sports and circus champions:  gold and silver medalists from Olympic Games and World Championships, and winners of the “Gold Clown” prize at the International Circus Festival ofMonte-Carlo. The multifunctional sports hall "Arena Armeec" hosted thousands of spectators who enjoyed the performances of the best gymnasts, acrobats and circus artists in the world. 

During the glamorous event the Foundation "Encho Keryazov" -whose motto is "Charity gives meaning to success"- gave its fifth annual awards to the talented children of Bulgaria in the following three categories: education, art and sport. A new category was added: disadvantaged children. In this category five students with motoric and hearing difficulties were awarded prizes for excellent international sports achievements.


Iordan Iovchev and Encho Keryazov


“Charity gives meaning to success”





"Disadvantaged Children" - the newest category of the Foundation “Encho Keryazov”

for talented children

Stefka Kostadinova – President of BOC gives awards to disabled students for their excellent achievement in sport

Magic happened as well that night: world wrestling champion Stanka Zlateva and marathon swimmer Petar Stoychev, winner of the World Cup for 11 consecutive years and interim Minster for Sport in 2013,  disappeared in a box from which, instead of them, triumphantly emerged the Golden Girls of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian RG Senior Group gymnasts, World Champions from Izmir 2014!

The Kovachev brothers’ ‘Wheel of Death’ was one of the most interesting performances. Stars of the Russian circus made a touching acrobatic show without the use of any security ropes.

Of course, the highlight of the evening was the performance on rings by the Olympic medalist and World champion Iordan Iovtchev, who performed his exercise from Athens 2004 accompanied by Vasko Vassilev, Bulgarian violinist and first Concertmaster of the Royal Opera House in London.  Iovchev celebrated his birthday on this day, and invited 1996 Olympic rings Champion Yuri Chechi as his special guest. The large audience sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for Iovchev. 


Want to know more about the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation? Read these interesting facts!

Did you know that … ?





Bulgaria was one of the founding countries of the modern Olympic movement. It had its participant at the 1st Olympic Games: Charles Champeaux. He was a Swiss and Bulgarian teacher and gymnast, the only competitor of Bulgaria at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.

  • There are 5 Bulgarian gymnastics federations which are independent (Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation for MAG and WA), Bulgarian RG Federation, Bulgarian Trampoline Federation, Bulgarian Sports Acrobatics Federation, Aerobic Union Bulgaria). However, the FIG and UEG affiliated one is the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation.







Iordan Iovtchev participated in 6 Olympiads.

  • Iordan Iovtchev retired from sport at the age of 39, after his 6th participation in the Games at the Olympic Games in London 2012.

  • Iordan Iovtchev was Deputy Minister for Sport twice.

  • A Vice MAG Olympic Champion, Krasimir Dunev took the lead of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation from another Vice MAG Olympic Champion, Iordan Iovtchev, who then became Deputy Minister for Sport.




Bulgaria is the first country which organised a common World Cup event in both Artistic and Acrobatic Gymnastics in 2015.

  • Rhythmic Gymnastics is considered the national sport of Bulgaria.

  • In Bulgaria the RG gymnasts are called “the Golden girls” for their medals won at Olympic Games, World and European Championships, European and World Cup competitions and International Tournaments.





The first generation of the Golden girls:

Lili Ignatova, Anelia Ralenkova, Iliana Raeva and Diliana Georgieva





Bulgarian Senior Group, World Champions from Izmir 2014





The 70th anniversary of the greatest Bulgarian RG Coach, Neshka Robeva, will be celebrated during the RG World Cup Sofia 2016. 

  • Both three-time Bulgarian RG World Champions are named Maria.

Mariya Gigova

Maria Petrova

Maria Petrova and Mariya Gigova 
at the RG World Cup Sofia 2015
  • Iliana Raeva, one of the brilliant RG gymnasts from the first generation of the Golden Girls leads the Bulgarian RG Federation since November 2012.

Iliana Raeva with a future RG star

Iliana Raeva, an amateur of art

  • With the active support of its RG Clubs the Bulgarian RG Federation will organise the second national edition of a general gymnastics event with rhythmic gymnastics elements which is close to the model of the World Gymnaestrada. No limitation for sex and age! An international edition of the event is about to be organised in Kamchia resort on the Black Sea coast.

  • The Bulgarian RG Federation organises 21 annual national competitions for three different levels (Elite, A and B categories), 4 different age categories (Children aged 9 – 10; Pre-juniors aged 11 – 12; juniors and seniors) and 2 disciplines (Individual and Group). In 2016 the Bulgarian RG Clubs will organise 26 National Tournaments open for international participation. 

  • The Bulgarian RG Federation keeps on expanding! At least one new club is born every year. We have now 56 RG Clubs which is a large number for such a small country and population.

  • According to the programme of the Bulgarian RG Federation for the promotion of the Rhythmic Gymnastics in the small towns,  Panagiurishte, a symbolical town from the period of the Bulgarian National Revival, hosted the traditional national tournament “Golden Hoop” for girls aged 10 – 12. The town has a multisport hall for 2000 spectators which hosted its first RG competition.

RG National Championships “Golden Hoop” 2016

  • A new RG sports hall will be constructed in Sofia. 





2018 RG World Championships will be held in the year when Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, will be the European capital of Sport.

  • The Bulgarian RG Federation is the Local Organising Committee of the 9th RG World Cup competition in Bulgaria. 

  • The Bulgarian audience and gymnastics family are very much looking forward to welcoming the best gymnasts in the world. A backstage follow up is usually organised during the RG World Cup in Sofia – it catches the audience attention.
  • A raffle is usually organised for the audience of the RG World Cup in Sofia. Sponsors provide attractive presents. And the public gets the chance to meet the best gymnasts when they give autographs to the fans. 

Giving autographs during RG World Cup Sofia 2015




The gymnasts from the Bulgarian Senior Group became guardians of stray dogs in the shelter in Seslavtsi, near Sofia. The girls’ charity initiative “Give a present to yourself, adopt a dog” helps to provide everything necessary for the dogs’ happy life. The Bulgarian graces not only raise funds and walk the dogs but help finding people to adopt them.

  • The Bulgarian Trampoline Federation has been the LOC of 5 World Cup competitions, 2 European Championships so far and will organise the 2017 TRA & DMT World Championships.

  • The first age category for the TRA competitions in Bulgaria is for children aged up to 8. The trampoline is the most interesting discipline for kids.






The TRA World Cups held in Bulgaria are named after one of the Bulgarian astronauts, Alexander Aleksandrov.





The Bulgarian Sports Acrobatics Federation has a five-time World Champion. This is Boyanka Angelova.




The 2016 ACRO Training camp of the UEG will be held in in Kamchia Resort from 7th to 13th August. 

  • Aerobic Union Bulgaria was the Local Organising Committee of the 1st Aerobic Gymnastics World Age Groups competition which was held in Sofia in 2004. 

  • Aerobic Union Bulgaria has organised 2 World Championships and 13 World Cup competitions in Bulgaria so far.




Iordanka Blagoeva, President of Aerobic Union Bulgaria, is the Vice Olympic Champion in the High Jump at Munich 1972, the bronze medalist from the Olympics in Montreal in 1976, the first Bulgarian athlete who set a world record in an athletics discipline and the Vice President of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee.  

  • The Bulgarian National Television, Host Broadcaster of the World Cup competitions in Bulgaria, gets its best TV ranking on the days of the gymnastics competitions.


YouTube video : here

Text and photos: Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation