Bulgaria Phenomenal Gymnast Skips European Championship

Sports | March 27, 2012, Tuesday // 14:52
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Phenomenal Gymnast Skips European Championship Yordan Yovchev wants to become the first male gymnast to compete in six Olympic games. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Bulgaria's legendary gymnast Yordan Yovchev will skip the European championship in May as he prepares to compete in his six Olympic Games, a record among male gymnasts.

Yovchev was scheduled to lead the Bulgarian team to the 2012 European Championships in Montpellier, France in end-May, but gave it up, fearing this could put at risk his performance in London.

"We decided not to take any risks. It is better for Dancho to pool his efforts and focuse on the Olympic games," his coach Krassimir Dunev said.

The legendary gymnast has been battling serious shoulder injuries and recently admitted he has been trying different types of treatment to ease the pain.

The greying gymnastics veteran won in January a quota for the London Summer Olympics despite the shoulder painful injury. This is will be his sixth participation in Olympic Games for the 39-year-old, a world record in itself.

Yovchev, who is the President of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation, said his qualification for London would be crucial for both the Federation and the "survival of gymnastics" as a sport in Bulgaria.

After the world championship in November, the gymnasts announced he would focus on the Rings exercise if he qualifies for the Olympics.

Despite his four world titles, he never managed to win Olympic gold.

Yovchev's greatest moment of fame still angers Bulgarians and the story is one of the very few things that can make him look sad.

In the rings competition of the Athens Games, Dimosthenis Tampakos of Greece received a generous score of 9.862. Then Yovchev, with a perfect performance, superior in every way, received a 9.850.

Yovchev said he has been robbed, while Bulgarian media slammed the decision of the judges as the "theft of the century".

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