|HOME | SPORTS | OLYMPICS | NEWS|
|August 24, 2000||
Despondent Bulgaria see gold in liftingLiliana Semerdjieva in Sofia
Bulgaria is heading for its worst performance at an Olympic Games since the fall of communism and might win gold medals only in weightlifting, Bulgaria's Olympic Committee (BOC) President Ivan Slavkov said on Wednesday.
"I am very pessimistic about our performance in Sydney and nostalgic of an earlier time when Bulgaria was earning dozens of Olympic medals and was among the world's top 10," Slavkov said in an interview with Reuters.
In weightlifting all eight men and four women were potential medallists and Bulgaria's golds would come from there "for sure", said Slavkov.
Other medals could be expected in shooting, wrestling, boxing, and track and field.
Slavkov, 60, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee, said the main reason for the decline in Bulgarian sport was the drastic reduction in the number of full-time athletes over the last 10 years due to lack of cash.
Dozens of coaches have left the country for better pay. More than 70 coaches in artistic gymnastics now work in the West.
Sport, formerly one of Bulgaria's most potent propaganda weapons, is struggling to cope with an economic reform during the country's painful transition from communism to capitalism.
Bulgaria now relies on naturalised foreign citizens for medals such as Russian Sergei Mureiko and Armenian 1996 Olympic champion Armen Nazaryan in Greco-Roman style, Slavkov said.
"As a result, the BOC was forced to lower its criteria for including athletes in the Olympic team in order to raise the number up to the critical point of some 100 athletes," he said.
Bulgaria is sending 97 athletes to Sydney against 117 in Atlanta four years ago when they won 15 medals, including three golds.
Slavkov said all team members would undergo drug tests before leaving for Sydney.
At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul two Bulgarian weightlifters were stripped of their gold medals after failing dope tests and the whole team was sent home.
Other stories on Weightlifting
Mail Sports Editor
TRAVEL | NEWSLINKS
ROMANCE | WEDDING | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | FREE MESSENGER | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK