Born on 06.07.1960 in Bestovitsa, Plovdiv District
Vanya Gesheva is the first and only Bulgarian athlete to win a full set of medals at a single Olympic Games – gold medal at K1 – 500 m, silver medal at K2 – 500 m, and bronze medal at K4 – 500 m in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. Gesheva is the first Bulgarian woman with an Olympic medal in canoe-kayak – silver from Moscow, Russia, in 1980 in the single kayak.
Her rankings in World Championships are as follows: Sofia, Bulgaria, 1977 – third place at K2 – 500 m; Belgrade, Serbia, 1978 – second place at K4 – 500 m; Tampere, Finland, 1983 – second place at K1 – 500 m and sixth place at K4 – 500; Mechelen, Belgium, 1985 – sixth place at K1 – 500 m and fourth place at K2 – 500 m; Montreal, Canada, 1986 – first place at K1 – 500 m, third place at K2 – 500 m and fourth place at K4 – 500 m.
At the age of twelve, she was admitted to the Vasil Levski Sports School in the Canoe-Kayak specialty. Nadezhda Vasileva had drawn her into the sport of rowing. At the age of 15, she won her first title in the Women’s Championship. She became champion at kayak double with Milka Asenova. Her first win in a big competition is from 1977 at the World Championship in Pancharevo, Bulgaria – a bronze medal at double kayak with Iliyana Nikolova. Gesheva has won 4 medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze) from Olympic Games and 5 medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze) from World Championships. She has also won 9 awards from other big competitions. In the years, during which she competed, no European championships were held. Since her appearance in state championships in 1975 to the end of her career in 1988, she has won 25 medals (19 gold, 5 bronze, 1 silver). Between 1978 and 1988, she had no losses in the national championship with single kayak. Between 1972 and 1984, Gesheva competed for the Trakiya Army Sports Society. In 1985 she moved to the team of Levski-Spartak.
After ending her sports career in 1989, Gesheva started working in the Ministry of Interior. She is member of the Executive Board of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee, Chairman of the Bulgarian Association of Olympic Athletes and Chairperson of the Levski Sofia Canoe-Kayak Club. From 1989 until 2009 and since 2014 she has been in the management of the Bulgarian Canoe-Kayak Federation. Between 2009 and 2011, Gesheva was a member of the Board of Directors of the European Canoe Association (ECA). Vanya Gesheva was ranked Bulgaria’s No 2 Athlete in 1988 and has been an honorary citizen of Plovdiv since 2001.