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Bozhidar Milenkov: I do not remember anything from my first big competition, it was like a dream

-Tell us how it all started. What were your first steps in the sport?

- Before I started practicing kayak I tried to practice athletics, basketball. My two cousins, Haralan and Stefan Zaharievi, however, trained kayak. They brought me to the Regatta Venue. I liked it, and I started from the 4th grade to come with them. I just watched them training. And one day - I remember it very well because it was the first day of the school year, on September 15, 1966, before school I came to the Regatta Venue. Then George Uchkunov, a legend of Plovdiv sport, took me to a boat, made a tour in front of the ports, I signed a declaration that my parents agree for me to practice sport and so everything started. This was my first official training day. Since then, my whole conscious life has gone to canoeing.

- Do you remember your first big competition and how did you prepare for it?

- I really do not remember anything from my first big race. I only remember how I was preparing for it because everything seemed to me like a dream. Like every rookie I experienced it very emotionally, and from the first to the last meter I did not know what was happening. My first competition was the Spartakiada in 1969 in Plovdiv and I became second in a quadraple kayak. Since then until my last internal race there is no year I did not get on the winners ladder and without championship title for Bulgaria for "Trakia" club.

- You participated in two Olympic Games. Was there any difference in your preparation for one and the other?

- I did not participate in 2, but in 3 Olympic Games, in 2 of them in Montreal (1976) and in Moscow (1980) I was a competitor, and in Seoul (1988) I was coach in the women's division. The difference is because the Olympic Games are once every 4 years. This is the biggest sport forum, as everyone knows, responsibility and tension are much greater. At one place there are athletes from all sports from all over the world and on the one hand it is very interesting and on the other - very responsible and heavy. For this very reason usually at the Olympic Games happens the biggest surprises - because everyone wants to be the first, everyone is on the edge of risk and sometimes goes beyond it, which is already devastating.

- What's the secret of winning the Olympic medal? Is there a special formula?

- There is no formula. It only takes a lot of hard work, lots of stubbornness, lots of consistency, will, ambition - all the standard things. It may sounds a little cliché, but that's the true.

- What would you advise young athletes?

- Olympic medal is hard to win. Not everyone can win, but everyone has to strive for it. And not for another reason, but because sport is a model of life. It is a rehearsal, a preparation for life itself. Sport is one competition, one striving for self-expression and one great school. If a person is successful and realized in sports, I think they can succeed in any other sphere of life.

* The interview is published with edits by the author. All rights to the text created under the project "Olympic Medalists of the City of Plovdiv" belongs to "Youth Center Plovdiv". 

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Project "Establishing Youth Centre in the city of Plovdiv", with the financial support of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area 2009-2014 ДО3-9/28.01.2014

Youth Centre Plovdiv - a powerful factor for local development" under the „Local Development, Poverty Reduction and Enhanced Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups” programme with the financial support of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area 2014-2021 № BGLD-1.003-0002