BULGARIAN WOMEN “ALL ROUND” ATHLETES - GLORY AND DISASTERS
The historic facts & figures surrounding Bulgarian female “all-round” athletes are more heroic, rememberable and important that those of Bulgarian men. They left significant trace into European and world track & field annals and can be proud and worthy with their medals and scores in Pentathlon and Heptathlon…
THE TOUGH BEGINNING
First news for any Bulgarian women multiple athletes appearance are shown just after Second World War. As first Bulgarian pentathlon champion was recognized the beautiful blond hear hurdler and long jumper Elena Zankina. She became Bulgarian national champion in 1947 with sum of 2243 points. At the same contest Zankina won gold also in long jump (4.80). In 1949 the gold medal at Pentathlon was awarded to the javelin record holder Yoana Mrakova (Arsova) – 2374 p.
As first Bulgarian national record at women’s pentathlon was named Yoana Mrakova’s score of 3147 point made in Sofia on 05-06 July 1952 (15.5; 9.47; 1.43; 4.62; 29.5). Mrakova-Arsova was 24 times Bulgarian javelin record holder (from 32.72 to 52.01 in 1964)! Mere than a month later, again in Sofia, the ethnic Hungarian (she had dual citizenship) Aleksandra Jerzsebek-Antonova add 450 points for another record – 3601 (15.9; 9.33; 1.38; 5.22; 26.8). Antonova liked to run most of all 400 m (bettered the Bulgarian record nine times – from 64.0 to 59.1 – first in Bulgaria run “under” 60 seconds) and 800 m 2:20.0 exactly! Aleksandra was also holder of Bulgarian record in LJ – from 5.04 to 5.25 – six times!!!
The very talented and inspired Bulgarian sprinter Veselina Kolarova (record breaker at 100 m 6 times – from 12.1 to 11.8 in 1964; 200 m eight times – from 26.9 to 24.8 in 1959) tried also Pentathlon. She gathered first 3653 points in Sofia on 05-06 Oct 1953 (12.7; 8.72; 1.33; 5.05; 26.0) and two years later (again in Sofia, on 22-23 Sep 1955) Kolarova added more than 200 points – 3872 p. (12.3; 9.18; 1.39; 5.03; 25.3). Some 10-15 days after that Veselina took two national records at….80 m hurdles – 12.0 and 11.9, thus becoming the first Bulgarian women getting down “under” twelve seconds at 80 m hurdles…
Next record holder came from sofian “Septemvri” club – Ivanka Abadzhieva. Ivanka twice broke Bulgarian record – first in Sofia on 14-15 Sep 1956 3885 (12.4; 10.96; 1.40; 5.19; 27.2) and second time 3978 points (12.4; 11.48; 1.43; 5.08; 27.2) – also in Sofia on 20-21 Nov 1956.
During all the 50’s period of 20 century the German athlete (but born in Sofia) Paulina Zolikoffer powered at LJ (5.83) and Pentathlon. She won Bulgarian pentathlon title four times in a row – 1954 (3939), 1955 (4010), 1956 (4047) and 1957 (3921). Zolikoffer took part at World Youth Festival in Warszawa at the beginning of August. There she “bettered” first BG record at LJ – 5.73 m. Later Paulina competed at Pentathlon and gained eight place with 4007 (11.4; 1.48; 8.86; 26.5; 5.74,) adding a single centimeter in LJ. Bulgarian officials hadn’t ratified all her marks as Bulgarian tops according to then existing rules (Paulina wasn’t Bulgarian citizen). The next 1956 year Zolikoffer again achieved good score at Pentathlon – 4047 (9.26; 1.51; 26.6; 12.4; 5.67) – but has had unable to travel to Melbourne for Olympic games because of mentioned above…
As Zolikoffer’s successor on the stage raised Snezhana Kerkova-Zhalova. Known much more as a hurdler/sprinter, Snezhana dared to try also Pentathlon. Kerkova was a briilant hurdler (with 19 records in a row at 80 m hurdles – from 11.9 up to 10.7), and also an excellent sprinter (100 m 11.9 and 200 m 24.4). Snezhana and her coach Grouyu Yurkukov decided to compete at EC in Stockholm on 20-21 Aug 1958. First she achieved 11.31 SP, 1.38 HJ; 25.7. On second day Snezha continued with 11.5 at 80 m hurdles and finally 5.02 LJ. That scored her a 4093 points – Bulgarian record and 14th place overall… Three week earlier – at Bulgarian multiple champs in Sofia (on 02-03 Aug) Kerkova won the title and was the first Bulgarian woman (after Zolikoffer) to exceed 4000 points – 4021 (9.95; 1.38; 25.0; 11.6; 5.15).
After a year break Snezhana Kerkova-Zhalova (meanwhile married her coach Konstatin Zhalov) returned to Pentathlon with 4154 points to win the 1960 title (11.7; 11.26; 1.43; 5.05; 25.5). Kerkova went on to try Pentathlon at Balkan Games in Belgrade on 16-17 Sep 1961. There she won bronze with another Bulgarian record 4202 (11.2; 11.1; 1.41; 5.08; 25.4).
On 1962 Kerkova waited for her baby (the famous Bulgarian sport journalist Asen Spiridonov). Two women exceed 4000 points at Bulgarian Multiple Champs – Sahska Varbanova was first with 4171 points and Donka Naneva second with 4007 points….
The Stara Zagora born Donka Naneva (later Gurgurieva) made a couple of records during pre-olympic 1963 year. First Naneva won Bulgarian title (06-07 July 1963 in Sofia) with new national record – 4292 points (11.7; 10.33; 1.60; 5.64; 26.9), followed in footsteps by Sashka Varbanova 4196 and… 29 years old Pavlina Zolikoffer 4111 (after living several years in GDR she returned in Sofia). Two months later (on 14-15 Sep 1963 in Sofia) Naneva straggled for balkan title against Yugoslavian Draga Stamejcic. Draga was ahead after 80 m hurdles 11.3 to 11.6 for Donka, the shot was again favorable to Stamejcic – 11.82 vs. 10.10 of Naneva. But the two jumps were Naneva’s hunting. At first she broke Bulgarian HJ record with 1.63 (against only 1.48 of Draga). Later Naneva was supreme at LJ - 5.84 m against 5.78 m of Stamejcic. At last 200 m dash was revenge for Stamejcic – she won with 25.9 up to Naneva’s 26.8. Draga Stamejcic became Balkan champion with national record – 4440 points. Donka Naneva completed second also with national record – 4375 points.
At Olympic year – 1964 – Sashka Varbanova became Bulgarian pentathlon champion with 4272 points, followed by her future long-lived rival Snezhana Dimitrova (Yurukova) 4198 points. At Balkaniade in Bucuresti on 12-13 Sep 1964 Draga Stamejcic was again the hot favorite for title (that title would have been fourth in a row for her). She commenced with 10.9 at 80 hurdles (to Sashka Varbanova with 11.3). The shot was merely good for Draga – 11.94 vs. 13.20 of Varbanova. High jump was mediocre for both – 1.57 for Stamejcic and only 1.45 to Varbanova….Things have gone better for Stamejcic at LJ – 5.94 m and for Varbanova – 5.52 m. The best has had saved for last – Draga run 200 m for 24.8, Sashka – for 25.3). so Stamejcic scored new national record – 4750 points, so did Saska Varbanova – Bulgarian top of 4492 points…….Later Stamejcic flied for Olympiade in Tokyo where placed on excellent fifth place with another Yugoslavian record 4790 points (10.9; 12.73; 1.54; 6.19; 25.2).
The next 1965 appeared as a year of stabilization and affirmation for Bulgarian pentathletes. Sashka Varbanova became Bulgarian champion for third time with 4301 (11.9; 12.81; 1.46; 5.31; 25.7). During first event – 80 m hurdles – Sashka hit the second hurdle and slowed her time to mediocre 11.9. Second there was Snezhana Dimitrova (Yurukova) with 4237 points and third with 4022 points was…the future world record holder at HJ Yordanka Blagoeva (then only 18 years old).
The 1965 Balkaniade took place in Athina, Greece. Sashka Varbanova grabbed the gold at Pentathlon with 4440 points (11.8; 13.26; 1.52; 5.51; 25.9). Snezhana Dimitrova (Yurukova) completed second with “silver” 4258 points (11.6; 10.88; 1.55; 5.32; 26.4). She edged for second place the Romanian athlete Pandele (4232)….
1966 was a year of the digression with a relatively few moments for joy. Sashka Varbanova was leader and champion with 4287 points. The second best performer was Snezhana Dimitrova-Yurukova (married her coach Gruyu Yurukov – ex-decathlete) with score of 4301 points. Varbanova won silver medal at Balkan Games in Sarajevo with 4335 points, a fraction behind the winner the Romanian Elena Vaszi-Vintila (4369)…In this year for the first time the odds saw the new prodigy – extremely talented Nedyalka Angelova from Kyustendil. Born in 1949, at 18 years she made her first Pentathlon namely in 1966. Nedyalka travelled to Odessa to compete at second European Junior Champs (on 24-25 Sep). Angelova began with bad 12.1 at 80 m hurdles (delayed pretty much to the start shot). After that she improved with best mark among all at SP – 12.78 m. At HJ she was not good – 1.48. Long jump was modest too - 5.55. The 200 m were marked with 27.7… Sixth place with 4222 points (Bulgarian U20 record) was something pretty promising for tall and elegant girl…..
Two Bulgarians – Sashka Varbanova and Snezhana Yurukova were ranked among the best ten in the world Pre-olympic ranglists in 1967. Yet at the end of May (23-24 May) in Sofia (at the “Narodna mladezh” tournament) Varbanova improved her own national best with 4707 (11.3; 14.13; 1.52; 5.78; 25.1). She became winner at National Multiple champ in Sofia on 08-09 July 1967 Sashka Varbanova became Bulgarian champion with 4740 points (11.0; 13.23; 1.55; 5.89; 25.3), followed by only 10 (!) points by Snezhana Yurukova 4730 points (10.9; 12.40; 1.55; 6.05; 25.4)…. Third was Nedyalka Angelova 4204 points..The marks of Varbanova & Yurukova were second and third in whole world at that time |(only behing soviet Valentina Tikhomirova (4779). Snezhana Yurukova had the chance and privilege to be invited to Pre-olympic Week set in Mexico on 15-16 Ovtober 1967, exactly a year before XXIX Olympiade schedule. Yurukova straggled bravely and took third place with pb 4735 points (11.1; 12.33; 1.62; 5.76; 25.0), just after Hungarian Annamaria Toth (4953) and Patricia Winslow (4880). Thus Varbanova and Yurukova entered the first twenty for all times…..
The Olympic 1968 season was crucial for Snezhana Yurukova and she hade much intensive and exhaustin training sessions as never before. The training camps followed one after another…. Yet on 11-12 May Snezha score wonderful sum – 4781 points (10.8; 12.33; 1.61; 5.98; 25.5). Two weeks later, again in Sofia, she added more than hundred points to establish new national record for second time in just 13 days – 4876 points (11.1; 12.96; 1.65; 5.94; 24.7)….. Her magnificent shape was maintained with the equaling NR at 80 m hurdles – 10.7 (made in Sofia on 02 June). At the GDR-Bulgaria match in Plauen next week Yurukova won again with 4707 poins (11.1; 12.06; 1.66; 5.81; 25.7)…. At Individual Multiple champ in Sofia on 06-07 July Snezhana showed consistency – victory with 4817 p. (10.9; 12.79; 1.60; 5.98; 25.1). Second was 19 years old Nedyalka Angelova 4607 (11.1; 12.88; 1.54; 5.73; 25.8) and third – the injured Sashka Varbanova 4435 points.
On 03-04 Aug 1968 at the athletic tournament from the schedule of World Youth Festival in Sofia Snezhana began extraordinary – 10.7 (equaled NR), after that 13.10 (pb) at SP. But at the HJ when taking the bar raised on 1.64 m, Yurukova injured badly her left heel. That was a real disaster! And happened only two and a half months before the Olympiade!!!....
Nevertheless Yurukova travelled to Mexico…There she was careful not to force the trauma. Snezhana began with 11.0 at 80 hurldes, after that 11.83 m at SP (over a meter below), at HJ Snezha reached only 1.59 (instead of usual 1.65)….. Second day was some better – 5.98 at LJ (before the injury Yurukova leaped twice at 6.20 m at test contests). The 200 m were run for 25.1 and score achieved was 4728 points.. That was enough only for 14th place.
The 80 m hurdles race was replaced by 100 m hurdles in women program (the height of hurdles was “raie”from 76.2 sm to 84 sm). Nedyalka Angelova accepted that change relatively fast and took the first establishment of the new record. Yet on 11-11 May in Sofia she scored 4465 points (14.9; 12.80; 1.55; 5.81; 26.7). In the same day in Leverkusen the first world record was made by West German Heide Rosendahl – 4995 points….Nedyalka continued with her brilliant appearances. On 01-02 June in Schieleiten (Austria) she broke again Bulgarian record with 4620 (14.3; 13.53; 1.50; 6.00; 26.1), ahead of East Germans Monika Peikert 4605 and 18 years old …Burglinde Pollak 4599 and…future world record holder Liese Sykora-Prokop (Aut) 4575… At Bulgarian Spartakiade on 17-18 July 1969 Angelova won the Pentathlon title with another national record (third in a row) – 4737 points (14.4; 13.27; 1.61; 5.93; 25.9). This time she was followed bu Sashka Varbanova 4527 points (14.5; 13.45; 1.52; 5.49; 25.7)…. Menawhile Snezhana Yurukova (after beating the “World record” at 60 m hurles indoors in Sofia on 08 February 1969 – 8.5 sec.!) participated only at 100 m hurdles (14.0) and LJ (5.89) before quit because of pregnancy…..A plenty gifted 17 years old Ivanka Venkova scored 4376 points in Sofia (15.2; 10.50; 1.51; 5.85; 25.0). Angelova won easily th Balkan Title in Sofia on 29-30 Aug with outstanding score of 4858 (14.1; 12.76; 1.63/ 6.22; 25.3) – fourth best ever (!) after Prokop (5089), Meta Antenen (Sui) (5046) and Rosendahl (5023)…
But the following European Champ in Athina was a real revelation for Angelova. After great delay at start reaction on 100 m hurdles (only 15.1), she was much hesitant at SP 12.85. Angelova cleared 1.62 afterwards. Second day commenced with good 6.12 at LJ and a relatively slow 200 m – 26.6. The score (4592) was good enough only for the ninth place!
Yet in early May (09-10 May 1970) Nedyalka Angelova hurried to reveal her own yet unexplored talent… And also to affirm her own place among the world elite. She added 50 points to her record and scored 4908 points (13.9; 12.99; 1.67; 6.23; 25.7). Angelova changes style at HJ – from straddle she referred to “Fosbury-Flop”…. At “Mehrkampf-meeting”in Schieleiten on 06-07 June 1970 Angelova scored 4780 (14.4; 12.96; 1.68; 5.89; 25.6) to place second after future record holder Burglinde Pollak (GDR) 5131…In Schieleiten fourth was Penka Sokolova with pb of 4533 points (13.9; 10.68; 1.56; 5.93; 26.1).
Angelova demonstrated top shape at Bulgarian Multiple Champs (on 26-27 June, just at her birthday) to win with 4886 points (13.8; 12.61; 1.70; 6.01; 25.6) ahead of Penka Sokolova 4375 points….
At Balkaniade in Bucuresti on 13-14 August Angelova improved Bulgarian best mark achieving 4920 points for gold medal….She began almost perfectly with 13.8 at 100 m hurdles, continued with 12.99 at SP, 1.70 at HJ. Second day commenced with 6.05 (Elena Vintila was better with 6.21). Angelova completed with 25.6 to score 4920 points (NR) ahead of Elena Vintila (Rou) 4723 and Yugoslavian Djurdja Focic 4434 p. Penka Sokolova was sixth with 4395 (14.1; 10.78; 1.53; 5.67; 26.4). Except at Pentathlon Nedyalka Angelova competed also at LJ (second with 6.23 after Viscopoleanu 6.43, but ahead of Eleva Vintila 6.12). Nedyalka won second silver at 100 m hurdles with 13.7 behind Valeria Bufanu (Rou) 13.5…
Two weeks after Bucuresti Angelova departed to Italy, where in Torino, at “Stadio Communale” she had to compete at the World Universiade. The pentathlon scheduled to 02-09 September. Angelova commenced badly – only 14.0 at 100 m hurdles. Then she was supreme at SP – 13.24 - best result among the 18 women competing… At HJ with 1.61 she was some unheralded…. Second day begun with best result among all at LJ – 6.16 (second with 6.14 was Britain Ruth Martin-Jones). But the last event – 200 m – was (as often happened) a nightmare for Nedyalka. The soviet pentathlete Tatyana Kondrashova (Vorokhobko) was long, long ahead (she run as a rocket!) with amazing 23.6. That meant the victory overall and gold medal with 4884 points. Nedyalka fought for good place, but finished fifth in the last heat with 25.4 (and 4859 overall, only 25 points behind Kondrashova). Ahead of Nedyalka finished Dutch Mieke Sterk 24.3, Ulrike Jacob (FRG) 24.8 and the Suisse Kathrin Lardi-Zing 25.4.
Meanwhile at the first trial Balkan Junior Games held in Athina on 25-26.07.1970 the pentathlon champion became Lidia Petrova (Gusheva) with score of 4019 points (14.6; 8.77; 1.50; 5.43; 27.3). Lidia later was very good hurdler (13.27 at 100 m hurdles and 8.05 at 60 m hurdles indoors) and also excellent long jumper (6.58 m at LJ)…
At Paris suburban Colombes on 12-13 Sep held junior Pentathlon of the first official European Junior Champ…. Ivanka Venkova made score for good fourth place with 4395 points (15.0; 10.12; 1.54; 5.69; 24.7). Has had she reached her bests in LJ (6.13 Bulgarian junior record from July) and 23.9 at 200 m (Bulgarian record for women & Junior marked when winning Balkan women title in Bucuresti), Venkova would gained at least silver (!) medal with about 4500 points (behind the winner Monika Peikert (GDR) 4578 points).. Ivanka “Vania” achieved that two week after Colombes – in Sofia on 27 September, scoring 4518 points (14.7; 10.88; 1.58; 5.64; 24.7)…..
Early in May (22-23 May) Snezhana Yurukova made her comeback with good score 4793 points (14.2; 12.27; 1.67/ 5.96; 25.3). Two weeks later (on 05-06 June) the two Bulgarians were in front of all (separated only by Hungarian Margit Papp (4761)). The winner was Nedyalka Angelova with 4829 points (14.1; 13.50; 1.66; 6.06; 26.1), and third was Snezhana Yurukova 4727 (14.4; 12.52; 1.63; 6.05; 25.7)….Soon after Yurukova again injured herself badly….. she broke her left knee…
Exactly on her 22th birthday (26 June) Nedyalka Angelova became Bulgarian champion at Pentathlon with 4746 points (14.1; 13.54; 1.55; 6.00; 25.6), ahead of Ivanka Venkova 4413 (14.4; 10.14; 1.46; 5.86; 24.8) and talented all-rounder hurdler Zdravka Trifonova 4286 (14.7; 10.18; 1.49; 5.48; 25.2). A day later Nedyalka improved Bulgarian record at 100 m hurdles – 13.6!!!! And another month later – again in Sofia on 26 July – Nedyalka Angelova improved her own Bulgarian record scoring 4947 points (14.1; 13.86; 1.70; 6.11; 25.6). She was then ready to overcome 5000 points, but the difficulties with 100 m hurdles were boringly consistent during that period…
At Second (trial) Balkan Junior Games held again in Athina Balkan junior champion at Pentathlon became Donka Novakova (4196 points (14.9; 9.15; 1.54; 5.57; 25.9) and silver medal was awarded to Tyanka Dineva Georgieva 4100 (16.1; 10.41; 1.54; 5.44; 26.2)….
Two years after Athina 1969 Nedyalka Angelova was forced to survive second disappointing in row. For the Xth European Champ in Helsinki (13-14 Aug) she travelled not fully fitted – with slight indisposition and not so confident…. She began with mediocre 14.25 at 100 m hurdles, good 13.46 at SP. At the third event – HJ – she begun with 1.50, after got 1.52, 1.54 and 1.56 without troubles. She needed two attempts to get 1.58 with success… At 1.60 yet on first try she felt strong pain in right flink. Nedyalka fall at the pit in tears – the pain was so strong, that she even couldn’t spet on her heel…. So Angelova had to withdraw…..
The Balkaniade in Zageb on 03-04 Sep 1971 has had to be epilog for the pre-olympic year for Angelova and Yurukova…Angelova completed with second place with 4782 points (14.14; 13.44; 1.69; 5.91; 26.64) behind the “hostess” Djurdja Focic 4902 (14.02; 12.08; 1.69; 6.16; 25.04)…. Snezhana Yurukova placed fourth with 4543 (14.46; 11.68; 1.60; 5.87; 26.18)……
OLYMPIC 1972 YEAR
It was obvious that the most significant contest (for all) will be XXth Olympiade in Munich (Pentathlon has had to be held at 02-03 September. But one of the main pretenders for place in the team – Snezhana Yurukova – couldn’t escape from the chronic pains in foots. She departed to Wien where on 11 June famous doctor Jelinek made surgery to both her Achilles tendons…. So the Olympic year was over for Yurukova…...
Nedyalka Angelova rested single in preparing for Munich….. Her first tournament was in Zurich on 03-04 June (in the Multiple meet Switzerland-GDR) . She placed fourth with 4159 points (according to the new 1971 scoring table) Her marks were as follows: 14.6; 13.33; 1.57; 6.10; 25.9…. Burglinde Pollak ranked first with 4730 points, second finished Christine Bodner 4497 and third Margit Herbst-Olfert 4349 points. The troubles with hurdles remained unresolved. Nedyalka used to compete at Long jump at this time (June & July). At 21 May she bate Diana Yorgova in Sofia – 6.19 to 5.88.. At GDR-Bulgaria meet at 11 June her leap was measured 6.14 m.
Second pentathlon for Nedyalka was in Amsterdam (Papendal) on 08-09 July. Her score was almost identical as that in Zurich a month ago…..Angelova placed second with 4162 (14.1; 13.13; 1.63; 5.98; 26.1) after Dutch Miep van Beek 4349 points… Balkan Games in Izmir (Turkey) remained the last chance for improve….. And last opportunity to prove herself. Nedyalka begun 100 m hurdles in better condition – 13.85 (full electric measurement), second in the first heat was Elena Vintila with 14.18…In second heat Penka Sokolova (Bul) started also good – 13.89, ahead of Elena Mirza (Rou) – 14.20…Second event – Shot putting was also excellent – 13.83 m (pb). Yugoslavian Jadranka Antunovic was well behind with 12.11…and 10.51 for Penka Sokolova. At High Jump (the weather in Izmir was very hot at that moment – about 40 Grad Celsius) the best was Elena Vintila 1.73, ahead of Angelova 1.70, Breda Babosek (Yug) and Penka Sokolova with pb – 1.64…. Fourth event – Long Jump scheduled for 05 August early in the morning – 8:30 a.m. After first attempt Elena Vintila was ahead with 6.21. Angelova fouled…..At second attempt Vintila improved a couple of centimeters – 6.23. Nedyalka made a big leap – of around 6.30 m. But it was declared again (!) as foul…. Third attempt – Angelova had to be cautious – and she had – 6.19 m…Penka Sokolova made mediocre 5.69 for third place… The 200 m dash was shown for 9:50 a.m. !!!! The sun shined so relentlessly – it was so hot on the very fast synthetic track! In first heat Elena Vintila edged Angelova – 25.04 to 25.15. Third was Penka Sokolova 26.05. In second heat winner Elena Mirza made 25.45. So Nedyalka Angelova won gold with new national and Balkan record – 4423 points. Second placed Vintila 4245, third Sokolova with 3972, just 19 points ahead of Breda Babosek……
Angelova went to Berlin for training camp before Games…. She tried only 100 m hurdles and placed third in Potsdam on 19th August (14.1), and another third in Berlin on 25 Aug (13.7), behind Karin Balzer (12.8) and Annerose Krumpholz (13.2)…..
So the moment of true occured. Nedyalka was keen to compete again the best all-rounders at Olympiade in Munich…. First event were 100 m hurdles. Nedyalka was head to head with Heide Rosendahl, Burglinde Pollak, Valenina Tikhomirova (USSR)…She started again with delay…. Ahead went Rosendahl and Pollak, also Britain Ann Wilson (in the inner lane). Nedyalka was in pursuit to Tikhomirova for fourth place…Eventual winner in that heat was Rosendahl with 13.34, second Pollak 13.53 and third Wilson 13.61… Tikhomirova finished a fraction before Angelova – 13.77. Nedyalka wrote 13.84 (pb)…a mere better than in Izmir….. At second event – Shot put – Angelova commenced satisfactingly – 13.96 m in first attempt, followed by 13.54 in second and 13.85 in third….After second event Angelova was sixth with 1722 points. The third event High Jump - began at 4:00 p.m. Nedyalka was in the Group A – the stronger one with all favorites….She cleared 1.55, 1.60; 1.65, 1.68 at once…. Her attempts at 1.71 were not bad, but for regret unsuccessful. At her third fly Nedyalka overwhelmed the bar, but touched it with calf…For regret the bar fell… After third event Angelova stayed overnight at ninth place with 2637 points. Second day began with Long Jump at 11:00 a.m. Nedyalka was again in the better Group A….. Her first attempt was brave, but foul of about 6.30 m. The second Nedyalka’s try. Good run and nice leap to landing over 6.30 m. The judge measured 6.32 (this supposed to be fourth best at last, after Rosendahl (6.83), Australian Lyn Tillett (6.44) and Christine Bodner (GDR) (6.40). Angelova putted on in all in her third attempt. She landed somewhere in the region of 6.45 m, but for regret the try was declared as foul….. After the fourth event Angelova raised to sixth position with 3612 points… The last event – 200 m – was scheduled for 16:45 p.m. on 3 september. Nedyalka was drawn in lane 5, between Mary Peters (inside) and Tikhomirova (outside). The rage of Heide Rosendahl for gold was unbelievable – 22.96, second was Bodner with 23.66, third Burglinde Pollak 23.93. Fourth finished Mary Peters (Gbr) 24.08, which for her eventually was sufficient for gold medal and world record… Tikhomirova (USSR) 24.25 completed fifth for 24.25. And Nedyalka won the battle for sixth place with West German Karen Mack – 24.58 contra 24.72… Thus Angelova bettered her 200 m pb with more that half second!!! Her score was announced as 4496 points – sixth place with NR. And all that made among the strongest pentathletes!!!!
The post Olympic year – 1973 – was predicted not so quiet, not so resting for Bulgarian women. Both Bulgarian teams were honored among the strong teams in the inaugural edition of European Cup for Multiple events held in Bonn on 22-23 September. Before there there were three semifinals to specify the best teams for Bonn – in Sofia, Innsbruck and Reikjavik…. The three Bulgarian princesses – Nedyalka Angelova, Snezhana Yurukova and Sashka Varbanova realized their responsibilities to represent Bulgaria at the highest level and to classify the team for Bonn…..
The tests began yet at the end of May. Nedyalka Angelova flied to Formia, where on 19-20 May she placed second with 4159 p. (14.5; 13.96; 1.60; 6.26; 26.0), behind the French Marie-Christin Wartell (4375). The great return of Sashka Varbanova happened in Sofia on 02-03 June when she made huge pb 4264 p. (14.0; 14.29; 1.60; 5.96; 25.4). On the same date (02 June) Angelova was in Graz (Austria)..There she battled with the small Hungarian Ilona Bruszenyak and lost – second with 4290 (13.6; 13.09; 1.66; 6.11; 26.0). Bruszenyak reached the national record 4410 (13.4; 12.31; 1.66; 6.20; 24.6)… All those days pentathletes competed mainly in individual events. For example, Angelova and Yurukova took part in the match GDR-Bulgaria-Great Britain in Leipzig on 30 June-01 July. Initially they placed third (Yurukova with pb 6.27) and fourth (Angelova with 6.26) at LJ. On second day both started at 100 m hurdles – Yurukova fifth with 13.7, Angelova sixth with 13.8…. Next week (07-08 July), at GDR-Bulgaria match in Sofia Sashka Varbanova was third at LJ (6.15 pb) and at 100 m hurdles 13,8, and Yurukova fifth at LJ (6.06)….
At Bulgarian Champs in Sofia on 14-15 July 1973 the three primes were involved only in Multiple program (single day). They started brilliantly – at 100 m hurdles Sashka Varbanova and Snezhana Yurukova equaled Bulgarian record (13.5), Angelova was a fraction third (13.6). At Shot put Angelova (13.97) and Varbanova (14.45) made pbs, and Yurukova was third (13.28). Yurukova improved at HJ with pb of 1.71. There neither Angelova (1.68), nor Varbanova – only 1.59 m, were on their bests. As mentioned, the schedule was reduced to one day appearance (as what would be on European Cup). Long jump commenced on 16:30 h afternoon. Yurukova leaped to 6.20, Angelova to 6.08 and Varbanova distant low at 5.94 m….At 200 m the trio hurled into rage battle – Yurukova finished for 25.0, a half meter ahead of Varbanova (25.1) and Angelova closed third with 25.3…The score of “Saint Trinity” – winner with pb Snezhana Yurukova 4468, second Nedyalka Angelova 4414, and third Sashka Varbanoba 4357 (pb).
The left fourth spot in he team remained vacant – that fourth. For it battled Ivanka Venkova 3980 (15.07; 10.68; 1.70 pb; 5.68; 25.06) and Penka Sokolova 3919 (14.05; 11.50; 1.51; 5.94; 26.26) at the trial on 28 July – just before the EC semifinal….
Meanwhile Angelova and Varbanova were selected in team for Poland-Bulgaria match in Warszawa on 28-29 July. Angelova won LJ with 6.38 (pb). Varbanova ranked fourth with 6.00 m plus 13.7 for the same fourth place at 100 m hurdles)….
At last the sacral date – 12 August – came. Bulgarians were “hosts”- Sofia welcomed the teams of GDR, USSR, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The pressure upon four Bulgarians was enormous. Angelova (13.50) and Varbanova (13.74) went well, also Ivanka Venkova (14.20 pb). But Snezhana Yurukova stumbled at third hurdle and almost fell… A real disaster!!! Yurukova succeed to finish, but with miserable 14.79. Second event – Shot putting. Nedyalka was perfect (13.95), also was Varbanova 14.86 pb, Yurukova too – 13.90 pb, but not so for Ivanka Venkova 10.66. The third event – High Jump - appeared to be fateful. Varbanova could get only 1.58, Angelova was better – 1.66 (but below odds expectations of something around 1.70). At 1.68 Venkova and Yurukova both succeed. At the net Height – 1.70 m – the misfortune stupefied ours. Yurukova stepped aside on her second attempt and injured badly sole Snezhana couldn’t even walk…..So she had to withdraw!! The three remained had to save Bulgarian reputation…. Nedyalka Angelova leaped nicely at LJ – 6.50 m, only behind East Germans Angela Schmalfeld 6.57 and Margit Herbst-Olfert 6.53. Varbanova was steady – 6.05, but Venkova herself leaped at only 5.88….The 200 m was redemption for Bulgarians – personal best for Varbanova – 24.64, good 24.57 for Venkova and enough 25.15 for Angelova…As a recapitulation Nedyalka Angelova completed with 4509 points – NR, Sashka Varbanova was ninth with personal best overall 4393. Ivanka Venkova finished eleventh with pb of 4154 points. The road for European Cup in Bonn was widely opened…..
Nedyalka Angelova herself was recommended to fly for the Universiade in Moscow on 17-18 August. Feeling some tired and disconcerted she commenced with mediocre 14.24 at 100 m hurdles, following with 13.66 at SP and only 1.60 HJ. Nedyalka hoped for much more from LJ, but remained with only 6.17 (still standing third overall after soviet duo Nadezhda Tkachenko & Tatyana Vorokhobko). But Angelova was realy disappointing at 200 m – 26.11 verse 25.80 of Canadian Diane Jones. And thus he lost the bronze medal to 100 points…
Sashka Varbanova and Ivanka Venkova went to Athina for numerous Balkaniade. They both begun in good shape – Varbanova (13.95 at 100 m hurdles and pb at SP 14.92). Venkova also was satisfying (14.22 at 100 m hurdles at 11.05 at SP). But the Yugoslavian Djurdja Focic (13.90 at 100 m hurdles and 12.68 at SP) overshadowed both with excellent 1.74 at HJ and 6.24 m LJ. Varbanova got only 1.50 m (!) at HJ (Venkova was on her own with 1.68). At LJ Varbanova leaped only at 5.82, Venkova – to 5.80…. The 200 m was like allure for Focic – nice time of 24.33, Varbanova completed with 24.94, Venkova was slower – 25.14…. So Balkan Champion became Djurdja Focic with NR – 4478, second was Varbanova with 4206 and third Romanian Cornelia Popescu 4151, who edged Venkova (4109) only because of great HJ – 1.83….. Nedyalka Angelova competed at LJ (third with 6.30 m) and also at 100 m hurdles – bronze medal 13.92)
On 1 September in Sofia held the international match between CSKA and Zadar (Split). Sashka Varbanova twice equaled Bulgarian record at 100 m hurdles (13.5), and Snezhana Yurukova just recovering after bad trauma made at SP 13.48.
Two Bulgarian pentathletes were included in Bulgarian team for European Cup final in Edinburgh on 7 September – Nedyalka Angelova and Sashka Varbanova. Varbanova fouth at 100 m hurdles and placed fourth with 13.84 (just edged the West German Ute Nolte 13.89). The very danger injury befell Nedaylka Angelova at LJ. After the opening leap of 6.07, in second attempt she traumatized heavily (4.53) her left foot…. The remaining four jumps was real anguish for Nedyalka. The doctor tried to freeze the ankle, but…. After the third leap Angelova could not even get out of the sand pit….5.63 m…5.98, 6.03, 5.93 – that was all that Nedyalka could to that evening. She cried out of sorrow and disability…. The Bulgarian team chiefs criticized and accused her unfoundedly... After contest the young women even couldn’t step on her foot and was forced to limping…
There was no place for rest – our athletes had to defend honor of Bulgarian athletic at the European Cup multiple events final in Bonn, Saturday, 22 September. Ours began in good mood and decided to battle for third place (although the West Germany hostesses aimed for the same….). The weather met them clouded and cool (about 15 Grad C) All begun with 100 m hurdles. First heat ranked Margit Olfert (GDR) 13.84, Sashka Varbanova 13.90, Uta Nolte (FRG) 14.09; Second heat was coller - Angela Schmalfeld (GDR) 13.61, Tatyana Vorokhobko (USSR) 13.98, Snezhana Yurukova 14.24…5 Ulrike Jacob (FRG) 14.48. Third heat – mighty muscular Nadezhda Tkachenko (URSS) won in 13.60, Barbel Muller (GDR) 13.98….7 Ivanka Venkova 14.90; Fourth heat was the strongest - 1.Burglinde Pollak (GDR) 13.21, Ilona Bruzsenyak (Hun) 13.60, Liese Prokop (Aut) 13.80, Christel Voss (FRG) 14.00, Nedyalka Angelova 14.06, Tikhomirova (URSS) 14.13. The second event was Shot putting. In Group A Pollak 15.85, Nadezhda Tkachenko 15.55, Prokop 14.91, Margit Papp (Hun) 14.37, Angelova 14.01 pb, Voss 13.96,….Ivanka Venkova ranked last with pb – 11.11. Soviet Valentina Tikhomirova injured with only throw on 13.74. In Group B best competed was Sashka Varbanova with pb – 15.06. Margit Olfert – 14.77, Angela Schmalfeld 13.48… Snezhana Yurukova could threw only 12.87, also Tatyana Vorokhobko 12.25. After two events GDR 2631 points, URSS 2573, Bulgaria 2509, Hungary 2296 and FRG 2204..In the individual Pollak ahead with 1912, Nadezhda Tkachenko 1843, Liese Prokop (Aut) 1786 and fourth was Varbanova 1777!!! At third event – High jump – the women were splitted in four groups out of four athletes… In first group Marie-Chriustine Wartel (Fr) and Christel Voss got 1.81, Pollak was fraction below – 1.78 (pb)… Angelova managed only 1.66. In Group B Margit Papp (Hun), Nadezhda Tkachenko and Florence Picaut got 1.78…Ivanka Venkova succeed at 1.63… At Group C Tatyana Vorokhobko was first 1.75, second Ulrike Jacob (FRG) 1.69 and third Snezhana Yurukova with saving 1.66….At Group D 18-years old Ildiko Szabo (Hun) and Vera Tkachenko got 1.63…Sashka Varbanova equealed her pb with 1.60 m…West German Uta Nolte got also 1.60 m, as Margit Olfert too. After the three events DDR team was ahead with 8044, second URSS 7958, third Bulgaria 7676, fourth France 7519, fifth FRG 7487, sixth Hungary 7439. Fourth event became the Long Jump. In Group A Burglinde Pollak was goodness with third leap at 6.47 m (pb), second Ilona Bruzsenyak 6.25, third and fourth Nadezhda Tkachenko and Margot Eppinger (FRG) with equal 6.12. Bulgarian Nedyalka Angelova after foul in first jump was hesitate with 5.89 at second attempt. She gathered all in her last jump – 6.08 and good position for head rankings….Ivanka Venkova could not reach more than 5.76…..In second Group B the GDR athletes Angela Schmalfeld (6.55) and Margit Olfert (6.51) were well ahead of Tatyana Vorokhobko 6.08. Snezhana Yurukova began well – safety first jump of 6.05. In third leap she putted all of her and landed on about 6.20 m. But the judge declared…foul with red flag! The West German Ulrike Jacob wrote 6.02 m. Sasha Varbanova herself payed a high price for eagerness performing further jumps. All her leaps are identical (in the same region – 5.65, 5.61, 5.67). All time she jumped off well behind the take-off board, about 30-40 sm….That caused her some marks of about 6.10 m or so….and much more points for the team! Before the last 200 m the team placement was as follows: GDR 11078, URSS 10685, Bulgaria 10350, FRG 10176, France 10176, Hungary 10160 points. The 200 m dash was of great importance for Bulgarians and West Germans either. In penultimate third heat (FRG & Bulgaria) the line up was: 1. Angelova, 2.Voss, 3.Venkova, 4.Eppinger, 5.Nolte, 6.Yurukova, 7.Jacob, 8.Varbanova…..The question was: Which team will outfox another…Most of odds predicted that Germans will edge on Bulgarians… Start shoot of the pistol heard. Eight women darted with all that was resting in their legs and their minds…. The tall Margot Eppinger finished well in front – 23.91, second was Ulrike Jacob 24.59, third Uta Nolte 24.79…Sashka Varbanova rushed in eight lane for fourth place – 24.86, just ahead of Ivanka Venkova 25.09. Chritel Voss finished sixth for 25.15. Nedyalka Angelova crossed the finish line with just two hundred delay - 25.17, and last came the exhausted Snezhana Yurukova 25.41. Who gained the battle for the dreamed third place???? The athletes waited in anticipating the final scores to be announced officially…..Who, who, who???? At last they looked the results on scoreboard: Team was winner GDR 13924, second URSS 13351, third Bulgaria 12852, fourth FRG 12823, fifth Hungary 12612, sixth France 12559. In a few minutes the officials publish renovated placings – thirty points of the Angelova’s HJ score were missed unwittingly during the contest…by mistake….The secretaries add those 30 points to Bulgarian dowry and the Bulgarian sum became 12882 points – some 49 points ahead of hostesses…. That was a kind of triumph for Bulgarian pentathletes, who beat the glory Germans in their own motherland…
One of the best pentathletes – Nedyalka Angelova – interrupted her training (expected baby) and the remained were Snezhana Yurukova and Sashka Varbanova. To them joined also Penka Sokolova whom progress was remarkable…Yet on 19-20 May Yurukova showed good opening shape with 4405 points (13.7; 13.28; 1.71; 6.11; 25.2)…. At Fifth Spartakiade in Sofia on 23 June Yurukova became Bulgarian Champion for second consecutive time – 4372 (13.6; 13.82; 1.68; 5.92; 25.2), followed by Penka Sokolova 4338 (!) (13.5:13.68; 1.62; 6.03; 25.3) and Sashka Varbanova 4177 (14.0; 14.32; 1.62; 5.55; 25.6)…
In Sofia was held Balkaniade on 03 August 1974 (single day schedule). Bulgarians were keen for good results. Yet on first event – 100 m hurdles – Penka Sokolova made NR 13.54 with full electric measurement. Second finished Snezhana Yurukova 13.59, third Djurdja Focic 13.83, fourth Cornelia Popescu-Popa 14.94. Second event – Shot Putting – was a Bugalrian triumph – Yurukova 14.45 huge pb, Sokolova also with pb – 14.07, Focic 12.50 and Popa 12.44. At HJ Cornelia Popa got 1.83, Focic was second 1.80, Snezhana Yurukova equaled her pb – 1.71 for third place. Penka Sokolova made pb too – 1.65. At Long Jump Yurukova was perfect in her first lep – around 6.40. But the red flag was raised… In second she wrote 6.23, and in third – 6.28 pb. Penka Sokolova scored 6.18 m and Focic 6.11 (Popa was well behind with 5.77)… Meanwhile Sokolova was due to participate at LJ in first day – with pb of 6.27 she placed fourth. She also ran 100 m hurdles placing again fourth with 13.53 (exactly as Ivanka Yovcheva for bronze)…. On the last event – 200 m Djurdja Focic got the best – 24.37, ahead of Yurukova 24.78, Sokolova 25.68, Florica Boca (Rou) 25.91 and Cornelia Popa 26.62… Thus Snezhana Yurukova scored overall with 4561 (NR), followed bu Djurdja Focic 4502 (also NR), Penka Sokolova 4386 pb and Cornelia Popa 4130 points….
At Balkan junior Games in Varna on 10-11 August Valentina Spasova Stoimenova (later Dimitrova) became Balkan junior champion at Pentathlon with 3978 points (15.2; 13.40; 1.65; 5.58; 26.1), followed by Romanian Coculeana Bucataru (Rou) with the same score (3978 p.)!!!!
At European Champs in Rome the pentathlon was scheduled for 4 September. At the fist event – 100 m hurdles – in first heat winner was Siegrun Thon (Siegl) (GDR) 13.58, followed by Yurukova 13.83 and soviet Lyudmila Popovskata 13.89… In second heat the world record holder Burglinde Pollak (13.36) edged soviet Nadezhda Tkachenko (13.39) and Penka Sokolova was third with NR (13.42)… In third heat Zoya Spasovkhodskaya 13.27 was ahead of Margit Olfert 13.57 and Ilona Bruzsenyak 13.63. At SP Group A Yurukova bompeted much below her pb with three weak puttings – 10.71, 11.68, 12.63 (more that meter and half below her best)…In Group B Sokolova was relatively good – 13.40 m….At HJ in first group B Yurukova made successful 1.55, 1.60, 1.65, 1.68 before failing at 1.71 with left leg injured (that was her last event at all, she retired after Rome)… In the same Group B Sokolova commenced with 1.50 and 1.55 (at first try). For 1.60 she needed two jumps. After that 1.65 at once, 1.68 at second try (pb) and three failures at 1.71….At fourth event (LJ) Sokolova had troubles with her approaching. And first leap – only 5.50, second 5.86…At third jump he took-of some 60 sm (!) behind the take-off board and 5.72….At 200 m Penka Sokolova started in second heat and finished with 25.70, behind Djurdja Focic 24.55 and west German Christel Voss 25.58…. In overall Sokolova placed ninth with 4323 points. But there’s no rest for Penka. She had to travel to Berlin for participation at Police Champs of socialist couries. There she was perfect at LJ – 6.41 m, second at 100 m hurdles 13.1 (NR) and sixth at 100 m – 12.0. Yet in early autumn she competed more and more and took inaugural national record at 400 m hurdles – 65.0 on 17 Octomber!!! At the same day she made full pentathlon and won with 4284 points, ahead of Valentina Stoimenova 4004 p. (14.8; 13.45; 1.65; 5.65; 26.6).
The sping season began on 17-18 may for pentathletes. At first start in Sofia Penka Sokolova gathered 4233 points (13.68; 13.63; 1.59; 5.85; 25.39). Penka travelled for inaugural Multiple Meeting in Götzis on 31 May – 01 June. There Sokolova placed fifth with 4213 points (13.5; 13.14; 1.55; 6.02; 25.5). Valentina Stoimenova-Dimitrova (married her coach Georgi Dimitrov) remained 15th with 3731 points….
At Bulgarian Multiple Champs on 28-29 June 32 years old Sashka Varbanova-Videnova became national champion for sixth time with very good score of 4335 points (13.5; 13.92; 1.56; 6.10; 25.6), followed by Valentina Dimitrova 4129 points and Rumyana Kosharevska third with 3914 points (15.0; 11.80; 1.65; 5.58; 26.0)….
Penka Sokolova was due to start at European Cup Individual Events in Sofia on 12 July. She fought like lioness and took two second places – at 100 m hurdles with NR (13.18) and at LJ with pb of 6.46 m. At the end of next week our male and female teams travelled to Romania where was one of the three semifinals of EC Multiple events. In Poliana Brasov Sokolova appeared extraordinary and place second with 4431 (13.52; 13.46; 1.69 (pb); 6.18; 25.26), only a single point behind the winner Zoya Spasovkhodskaya. Valentina Dimitrova placed 10th with 3921 (15.22; 14.26; 1.63; 5.57; 27.15) and Rumyana Kosharevska – 15th with 3165. Our women placed fourth (out of four) with score 11516 p. URSS 12893 and Austria 12245 p. continued to final in Bydgoszcz. The hostesses from Romania placed third with 11643 p.
Only a few days later Penka Sokolova underwent very serious car crash. She injured badly her skull and chest as was forced to visit hospital and to lay there for a while…..
Inspite her injury Sokolova arrived in Bucuresti for participating at Balkaniade. He was brave fighter again placing second with 4270 (13.96; 13.30; 1.63; 6.00; 25.19) beated only by Djurdja Focic (Yug) 4342 (14.46; 12.14; 1.70; 6.35; 24.54). Valentina Dimitrova placed third with 3996 p.
Penka Sokolova improved her health relatively quickly. In Varna on 08 Septeember she made a very strong pentathlon achieving 4501 points (13.1; 13.47; 1.56; 6.15; 23.6) followed by Valentina Dimitrova 4169 (14.4; 13.97; 1.65; 5.75; 25.8)….
Meanwhile very talented only 15 years old Emilia Kunova from the capital Sofia surprised the crowd with the junior title (3946 p.) at 02-03 Aug. Less than a week later Kunova placed sixth at “Druzhba” tournament in Banska Bystrica (Cze) with 3876 (14.8; 9.68; 1.66; 5.59; 25.2)….
Penka Sokolova herself continued to train so hard. She aimed to try broking the Bulgarian record yest once - in early autumn. That happened in Sofia on 02 October. Sokolova gathered th sum of 4559 (a couple of points below the Yurukova’s record) – 13.2; 14.26; 1.66; 6.23; 24.6…. At the third LJ attempt (after foul and 6.23) Penka leaped further than 6.40 m. But the referee espied a small trace on the green plasticine… Second there was again Valentina Dimitrova 4084…
The Olympic summer season began tough for Penka Sokolova. After several injuries she started in Sofia yet on 24-25 April and…. lost to Valentina Dimitrova. The Valia’s score was 4234 (14.5; 15.12; 1.69; 5.78; 26.2) and Penka’s 4138 (13.8; 13.55; 1.55; 5.75; 25.5)….
Dimitrova made a couple of pentathlons more – In Sofia on 08-09 May she scored 4313 (14.6; 15.28; 1.72; 5.87; 25.8) and 20 day later – again in Sofia on 29-30 may 4248 (14.4; 15.23; 1.72; 5.87; 26.9)….At second contest another talented athlete – the 22 years old Rumyana Kirova scored over four thousand points – 4026 (14.5; 11.31; 1.60; 5.85; 25.1)…
Sokolova and Dimitrova departed for Celje (Croatia) where they took part in the numerous Balkan Games on 18-19 June. Sokolova began in good manner at first day (18 June) – 13.2 at 100 m hurdles; 14.22 at SP and 1.66 at HJ. That happened against Djurdja Focic (Yug) – 13.8; 13.07; 1.75…. But on second day Focic leaped at 6.25 LJ and finished 200 m for 24.6, which brought her Balkan title with 4500 points…And only 26 points less was Sokolova’s sum…..She had difficulties in Long Jump approaching and couldn’t not land on more than 5.93 (it was disaster for her). At 200 m Sokolova fought desperately with Focic but completed 2 tenths of second slower that Focic.. Valentina Dimitrova lost the battle for bronze medal against Cornelia Popescu-Popa. Dimitrova scored 4295 (14.3; 15.44; 1.66; 5.78; 25.6). The Romanian Popa made personal best with 4446 points (14.6; 13.21; 1.89; 6.04; 26.3)….
So Penka Sokolova got the standard for Olympiade in Montreal. There she competed with unrecovered from traume right leg (Achilles tendon). The contest was on 25-26 July. Sokolova commenced with brilliant 13.32 at 100 m hurdles (she was in first heat – just behind Siegrn Siegl (GDR) 13.31 and Tatyana Vorokhobko also with 13.31). In that first heat Last was Djurdja Focic – seventh with 14.48…At Shot putting Sokolova made under her abilities – 13.70; 13.29 and 13.60 – eight place in that event…..At HJ Penka got 1.50 at once, 1.55 by second try, 1.60 by first and 1.64 by second attempts. After that she made three failures at 1.68…. Another disaster – with three miserable jumps – 5.93; 5.84 and 5.78 (she could not hit the take-off board not once) she stayed well below usual 6.20 m….In heat 2 of 200 m Penka left fifth with 24.95 sec. (out of six) and thus scored 4395 points, that putteed her at prestige ninth place of 20 pentathletes….
Valentina Dimitrova left in Sofa at that time. She tried a piece of Pentathlon once more – in Sofia on 15 Aufust. And score personal best 4336 points (14.6; 15.09; 1.72; 5.83; 25.3)…
At that time the prodigy Emilia Kunova amazed more and more the odds. After winning the junioir title at Pentathlon with 3867 point in Sofia on 16-17 July, she took part again at “Druzhba” junior meeting in Zeliona gora, Poland on 06-07 Aug 1976. Kunova took third place with pb of 3915 points (15.19; 10.26; 1.75; 5.52; 25.78)…. After that Emilia became Balkan junior champion in Kavala, Greece, on 21-22 Aug with score of 3883 points. At the beginning of July (as on 04 July) Kunova was in Velenje for the junior match Yugoslavia-Italy-Bulgaria. There she won the Pentathlon with score of 3963 (14.6; 10.00; 1.61; 6.28 – this was judge mistake!!; 25.9)…..
The event 200 m of the Pentathlon was replaced by 800 m run. Itself that made additional troubles to “heavy weighted” pentathletes that rely on SP mostly. Also Sofia was home town of the Universiade in the end of August…So our young Valentina Dimitrova had to get through tough trainings to obtain best shape just on 19-20 August….The first start was in Sofia on 20-21 May. Valia scored 4274 (14.58; 15.07; 1.72; 5.90; 2:24.0). The second pentathlon was on 04 June – Dimitrova improved to 4334 (14.5; 15.22; 1.69; 6.02; 2:20.2) followed by Penka Sokolova 4223 (13.8; 14.33; 1.55; 6.11; 2:22.1)…Valentina Dimitrova became winner at the Multiple tournament in Spala on 26 June with pb 4412 (14.72; 14.81; 1.78; 6.11; 2:18.7)….
On 16 July in Cisinau (Kishinev) held one of the three semifinals at EC Combined events. Dimitrova again was brave competitor and gathered 4403 (14.51; 15.13; 1.72; 6.07; 2:17.5), just behind Nadezhda Tkachenko 4689 and Ekaterina Smirnova 4422 p….Eighth placed Penka Sokolova with 4126 (14.22; 13.54; 1.66; 5.77; 2:29.5. That was her LAST pentathlon….A month later Sokolova suicided at age of 31 years….Elena Vladimirova 3716 and Mariana Kostova could help the team to advance for the Final in Lille on September…..
In Sofia held “Druzhba” junior tournament and Emilia Kunova barely 17 years old won the gold medal after poor beginning with 4067 points (NR) – 14.42; 10.56; 1.66; 6.13; 2:19.4). Kunova departed for European Junior Champs in Donetsk, where on 20-21 Aug she participated at Pentathlon. Emilia duplicated 100 m hurdles from Sofia – 14.42. After 10.64 at SP she bettered with 1.74 at HJ and 6.03 LJ. Her main rival for bronze medal was West German Inna Losch (14.95; 12.17; 1.64; 6.21). Emilia led to Inna with sum of 30 points…. But Losch was better at 800 m (2:18.8) to Emilia’s 2:24.3…That meant bronze for Losch 4116 and fourth place for Kunova 4070 (NR)….
The preparation for Universiade caused Valentina Dimitrova intense training sessions and huge amount of hard job done….At 08-09 Aug in Sofia she bettered her own pb reaching 4418 (13.9; 14.48; 1.72; 6.16 (pb); 2:22.3)… And the crucial day came (19 Aug). In the morning the first heat of 100 m hurdles was won by Ekaterina Smirnova (URSS) with pb of 13.23. A hundredth of second behind was Jane Frederick (USA) – also with pb of 13.24. In second heat Valentina Dimitrova finished third with good pb – 14.02. At SP Dimitrova took another pb – 15.68, ahead of Frederick 15.26…Smirnova was fourth with 13.53….High Jump brought another pb for Dimitrova – 1.80!!!!. Smirnova, Frederick, second soviet Olga Rukavishnikova and French Gloria Borfiga rested with 1.78. But the best here was Dutch Sylvia Barlag with 1.82…The fourth event (Long Jump) begun at the next morning (20 Aug). Dimitrova commenced with good enough 6.10 m… After that she mad foul. Her third try was brilliant – of about 6.30 m, but declared again a foul…Smirnova herself made two identical leaps at 6.12 m, Frederick was weak with only 5.98 m and Rukavushnikova remained with 6.17 m. In second group B Dutch Sylvia Barlag jumed further – 6.18 m…. Before 800 m run the current standings were: 1.Dimitrova 3754, 2.Smirnova 3724, 3.Frederick 3690, 4.Lechner (Aut) 3615, 5. Rukavishnikova 3552, 6. Sylvia Barlag 3510, 7.Liesel Albert (FRG) 3453. Under electric lights at the stadium in the evening “they” were exhausted so much before those boring 800 m. First heat was won by the suiss Baumann with extra 2:14.4, followed by Hungarian Anna Balatonni 2:17.8…At the second heat the crowd was anxious to see Bulgarian Dimitrova keeping those 30 points advance…. Start and Dimitrova went ahead foolowed by Albert and Frederick…At first lap the clock stopped at 62.2 sec. Incredible!!!! Dimitrova continued out lead…… Frederick tried desperate attack but couldn’t do more than bettering pb. At the last 200 m the tall and kinky West German Liesel Albert went in sprint ahead… Dimitrova with her last forces followed her….. Crowd boosted loudly….. Albert finished for 2:12.9, second was Dimitrova with another pb – 2:13.5, Frederick was third 2:16.5 and Smirnova 2:19.4… So the final standings showed as followed: 1.Valentina Dimitrova 4630 (NR) (more that 300 points bigger that the ancient), 2.Jane Frederick with NR – 4625 points (only 5 points mere), third Ekaterina Smirnova 4521, fourth Liesel Albert 4337, Fifth Rukavishnikova 4298 points. That was one of the most memorable moments of the Universiade – the remembering exploit of marvellous all-rounder Valentina Dimitrova…
Two weeks of light training passed and again a tough trial waited for Valentina – the Balkaniade in Ankara on 09-10 September…Dimitrova was mobilized as she had to an won with good advance with 4425 (14.12; 15.58; 1.74; 5.84; 2:18.6). The Yugoslavian Breda Babosek-Lorenzi was something 200 points behind – 4243 points…..
Bulgarian women flied to France, in Lille where have to defend their honor and reputation at the EC Combined events Final. Their task was eased of the absent of GDR girls….Valentina ended a long and great season with another bronze medal in individual score. She could gather 4423 for third place (14.23; 15.24; 1.69; 6.09; 2:17.1). Valia missed 54 points for the second place of Zoya Spasovkhodskaya 4477 (13.57; 14.07; 1.72; 6.03; 2:15.7). Hadn’t she brook so much gap at hurdles an High Jump she would have been firmly placed at second place, behind the record holder Nadezhda Tkachenko 4839 (13.49; 15.93; 1.80; 6:49; 2:10.62)..The hurdler and long jumper Lidia Gusheva has to straggle with lacking of any determined preparation for Penthatlon. She made 3936 (13.66; 10.92; 1.54; 6.23: 2:32.0) for 19th place overall. Emilia Kunova herself couldn’t help the team as much as it to be, she was injured after the Junior EC in Donetsk and could settle only for 26th place with 3758 (14.95; 9.61; 1.66; 5.71; 2:27.1). Bulgarian tean ranked sixth with 12117 points…
Valentina Dimitrova was pregnant with her first baby boy Ivaylo. Emilia Kunova concentrated only on 100 m hurdles and 400 m hurdles. So it was only 18 years old Sonia Tsenkolovska to carry the flag…. To her was attached Mariana Kostova-Babova and Irina Dacheva….. Sonia Tsenkolovska became Balkan junior champion in Ankara on 02 July 1978 with 3924 points (14.98; 13.60; 1.65; 5.84; 2:36.5). At Bulgarian senior Pentathlon champs in Sofia on 14 July 1978 Sonia Tsenkolkovska led with huge margin of 3389 points (14.43; 13.97; 1.69; 5.96) ahead of Mariana Kostova-Babova 3207 (14.23; 11.90; 1.60; 6.07). In the last event – 800 m – Mariana not only melted the difference of Sonia, but beat her because of huge margin at 800 m 2:13.9 to 2:30.0… It was enormous for Tsenkolovska to run so slow and Marina Kostova-Babova became Bulgarian champion with 4175 p. to 4144 of Sonia! Kostova placed fourth with 3928 points at Balkan Games in Thessaloniki on 11-12 August….
Yet in winter season Sonia Tsenkolovska showed good shape – she became Pentathlon indoor champion with 4201 points (8.72; 13.86; 1.72; 6.23; 1:46.0 (600 m). At junior pentathlon champ indoors first became Yordanka Donkova with 3763 (8.61; 10.57; 1.63; 5.40; 1:44.8). Soon, very soon after Sonia married her boyfriend Kiril and concluded with sport at all!!!!
Valentina Dimitrova returned to the track after motherhood keen to help national team. Yet on 04 may she began with 4051 (15.7; 14.75; 1.66; 5.62; 2:25.2). In Sofia at Bulgarian Combined events Champ held on 24 June 1979. Valentina Dimitrova became the winner with 4270 (15.01; 15.24; 1.74; 5.63; 2:17.9)… Mariana Kostova-Babova could not catch her – only 32 points didin’t enough her – second with 4238 (14.33; 12.94; 1.60; 6.02; 2:12.3). Third was Irina Dacheva from Burgas with 4139 points (15.03; 12.16; 1.68; 5.79; 2:12.5) edging for the bronze the Bulgarian 100 m hurdles record holder (13.02) Daniela Teneva. Daniela completed fourth with personal best of 4118 (13.45; 11.95; 1.50; 6.38; 2:23.7)….
One of the EC Combined events semifinals was in Budapest on 14 July. Again the fighter was only Dimitrova that saved Bulgarian reputation. She finished fourth with 4389 (14.78; 15.11; 1.78; 5.87; 2:17.2; only behind Nadezhda Karyakina (URSS) 4544, the hostess Margit Papp (Hun) 4541 and soviet Olga Rukavishnikova 4406… Seventh completed young 19 years old Irina Dacheva 4180 (15.13; 12.01; 1.75; 5.79; 2:13.0). Ninth remained 18 years old Daniela Nenova 4147 (14.86; 12.49; 1.68; 5.90; 2:16.5) and eleventh was Mariana Kostova-Babova 4114 (14.14; 11.15; 1.64; 5.66; 2:12.1). The team winner was URSS 13278. followed by host team of Hungary 12889 and third completed Bulgaria with 12716 – insufficient for the final in Dresden….
Daniela Nenova became Balkan pentathlon junior champion in Yambol on 28 July with 4087 pints (14.62; 11.19; 1.75pb; 5.72; 2:19.1)…Nenova travelled to European Junior Champs in Bydgoszcz on 17-18 Aug. There she commenced with 14.81 at hurdles and 12.14 at SP. The third events – HJ was underestimated with only 1.65… The next – LJ – Daniela completed with 5.81. Nenova tried to change the things, but without success. She led the course after initial lap at 800 m and after a while finished first in the second heat with 2:14.9, followed by Anke Vater (GDR) (later Behmer) 2:16.2 and eventual winner Sabine Everts (FRG) 2:16.3…. Insofficient!!! Gold medal for Everts 4594, silver for Silva Oja (URSS) 4424, bronze for Anke Vater (GDR) 4322. Only 67 points distanced Nenova from fourth palce (4170 of West German Anke Königer (4170). Fifth was Heike Prauka (GDR) 4162 and sixth soviet Elena Ivanova (URSS) 4144 points…
Meanwhile Valentina Dimitrova made her fourth Pentathlon for 1979. She travelled to Mocow for participating in the People Spartakiade of URSS on 25-26 July. Not fully recovered from motherhood, she placed eighth with 4392 points (14.78; 15.11; 1.77; 5.91; 2:15.3)…..After that Dimitrova flied to Athina where was due to take part in Jubilee Balkaniade on 10 August (one day contest). After first event – the 100 m hurdles she stayed back with 14.43 again the determined Romanian Gabriela Ionescu 14.04… But quickly Valentina took the lead with further pb of 15.73 at SP, and also with good 1.78 at HJ. Ionescu herself also made good marks – 12.59 SP and 1.74 HJ. Only to proceed with excellent 6.43 m at LJ (mere 5.94 of Valia)…Neverthess Dimitrova’s advance after SP & HJ was sufficient – even though Ionescu beat Dimitrova at 800 m – 2:10.8 contra 2:12.8 (pb)…the score of Valentina Dimitrova – 4539 points was second in her carrier, Gabriela Ionescu achieved personal best with 4503 points….
Alexander Vangelov for Decathlon 2000