Life between the boat and journalism
When I got involved with sport, rowing was not among the most popular sports in Bulgaria. First I tried athletics, basketball and volleyball until one day a sailor saw my potential and told me wonderful things about boats, water and beautiful scenery. As soon as I sat in a boat I just fell in love with rowing and that love was for life.
As early as the first year in the sport I became a National Junior Champion and won a silver medal in the women’s category. More success followed in Bulgaria and at international regattas. However, my biggest success came nearly 10 years later, after long and persistent hard training and unwavering love for boats. This happened when rowing for women was first officially included in the Olympic programme in Montreal 1976. I had a historical chance and the great honour to become the first Olympic women’s rowing champion along with partner Svetla Otzetova for Bulgaria. The experience was indescribable! My sports career was developing successfully. Two years later, I added a world champion title at Lake Karapiro (New Zealand) to my tally. Victories were interspersed with silver and bronze medals from world championships and major international regattas round the world. I was a leader of perhaps the biggest rowing team, which numbered 100-150 men and women. I had the love and respect of my colleagues, the people in Bulgaria and its government.For my successes in rowing I subsequently received the highest state honours.
Unfortunately in the following Olympic Games, which were held in Moscow 1980, I qualified fourth and my coaches decided that this was the ceiling of my ability. I decided to end my sporting career. It was a difficult decision as the athlete is always tempted to continue but it is really important to find the strength to stop while still at the top.
For me that moment was not sad. I had already graduated from the National Sports Academy, and while I did not see myself as a rowing coach, I definitely had some ideas about my future. Although I am fond of painting and had graduated from the vocational school of applied arts, the sports career did not allow me to grow much as an artist. So, I bet on my love of literature and went on to study TV journalism at Sofia University. It was perhaps the best decision I made - dedicating my life to reflect upon sporting events and at the same time promoting sports among young people. As a journalist I cover the biggest sporting events in the world - summer and winter Olympic Games, World and European Championships.
In addition to sporting successes many wonderful things happened in my personal life. I got married, I have a wonderful son, who is also involved with sports. Fortunately, I as a woman athlete, have not encountered any problems in attaining managerial positions in Bulgaria. I am a member of the Executive Committee of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee, and was a press attaché of the Bulgarian delegation in the Olympic Games in Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004. Along with all this I am a TV commentator on my favorite sport: rowing.
In 1997 I had the honour to be elected as a National Ambassador for "Sport, tolerance and fair play" to the Council of Europe, in addition to being the official representative of Bulgaria in the European Fair Play Movement. I am also the Chairwoman of the Fair Play Commission in the Bulgarian Olympic Committee. I teach journalism at the National Sports Academy and have the opportunity to educate future journalists in the values of sport and fair play.
Since 1991, I have been the President of the Bulgarian Masters Federation, and have been working with our great athletes who maintain their active sporting life. Since 1992 I have participated actively in the Executive Committee of the Bulgarian Sport Foundation and in many charitable causes.
Olympic champion from Montreal 1976, 4th place of the Games in Moscow 1980
World champion from Lake Karapiro 1978, silver medals at Amsterdam 1977 and Bled 1979, bronze medal at the Nottingham 1975