Bulgaria in the Olympics
Bulgaria will be represented by 63 athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom.
Legendary gymnast, Yordan Yovchev, has been chosen to bear the national flag during the Parade of the Nations, part of the Games' opening ceremony on July 27 2012.
Bulgarian athletes will compete in the following Olympic Sports: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Canoeing Flatwater, Cycling – Road, Fencing, Gymnastics – Artistic and Rhythmic, Judo, Sailing, Shooting, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball - Men's indoor tournament, Weightlifting, Wrestling.
Bulgaria made its Olympic debut in 1896, at the inaugural of the 1896 Games, with a single gymnast. However, since Charles Champaud was a Swiss national living in Sofia, some sources credit his appearance to Switzerland instead.
The Bulgarian Olympic Committee was created in 1923 and first sent a team to the Summer Olympic Games in 1924. The nation has participated in every Summer Games since then, except for 1932 (during the Great Depression), 1948 (after World War II), and 1984, when the country participated in the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics. Bulgaria first participated in the Winter Olympic Games in 1936, and has attended every Winter Games since then.
Stefka Kostadinova is the current president of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee. She is also the reigning world record holder in the women's high jump at 2.09 m, which she jumped during the 1987 World Championships in Rome. Her world record is one of the oldest in modern athletics. Altogether Kostadinova set seven world records - three outdoors and four indoors. She also holds the women's world record for having jumped over 2.00 m 197 times. Kostadinova won the gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, setting an Olympic record of 2.05 m.
Bulgaria's total Games appearances are 19.
Bulgarian athletes have won a total of 212 medals – 51 gold, 84 silver and 77 bronze, with wrestling (66), weightlifting, and rhythmic gymnastics as the top medal-producing sports.
Beijing silver medalist and five-time freestyle wrestling World Champion, Stanka Zlateva, is looking to take gold in the 72kg wrestling discipline. Two-time Olympic shooting champion and five-time medalist Maria Grozdeva is one of Bulgaria's most successful Olympians, having competed in four Games (1992-2004), and winning medals each time.
In the 2012 Olympics, Bulgaria anticipates anywhere between 6 and 10 medals and is placing its highest hopes on wrestling, boxing, weightlifting, rhythmic gymnastics shooting and athletics. In the latter, the country counts a great deal on runners Ivet Lalova and Vanya Stambolova. In tennis, the Bulgarian medal hopefuls are the young Tsvetana Pironkova in the women competition and Grigor Dimitrov in the men one.
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