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Rhythmic gymnastics

Leader - Full Prof. Ph.D. Giurka Gantcheva

Teachers- Full Prof. Giurka Gantcheva, Ph.D. ; Assoc. prof. , Ph.D. ; Chief assistant Daniela Velcheva, Ph.D.

News Gymnasts History Coaches

Famous Bulgarian gymnasts, connected with the National Sports Academy

Maria Gigova

Born on 21.04.1947 in Sofia.
Clubs CSKA, Levski
Coaches: Julieta Shishmanova, Lili Mircheva

The first real star to emerge from the rhythmic gymnastics scene was Maria Gigova, a diminutive blonde from Bulgaria. Great speed and difficulty characterize the work of this supremely talented gymnast. In fact, Gigova was the driving force behind the rising level of difficulty that began in earnest in the early 1970s. But one of her most memorable routines is her 1973 ball exercise, choreographed to the music of composer Dimitar Valchev. In this exercise, Gigova demonstrated cutting-edge flexibility, spectacular high apparatus tosses, and an unheard-of catch while lying on the floor. The risk, originality, and soulful presentation she displayed set the pace for every gymnast who succeeded her.


1965 World Championship in Prague, Czechoslovakia - 6th AA.
1967 World Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark - 9th AA, 1st Hoop.
1969 World Championship in Varna, Bulgaria - 1st AA, 1st without apparatus, 1st Hoop, 2d Rope, 2d Ball.
1971 World Championship in Havana, Cuba - 1st AA, 1st Hoop, 1st Rope.
1973 World Championship in Rotterdam, Netherlands - 1st AA, 1st Hoop, 3d Clubs, 3d Ribbon.

Since she retired in 1974:
1978 -1980 - member of FIG's Technical Committee.
1980 -1992 - Head of FIG's Technical Committee.
1978 -1982 - Vice President of the Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation.
1982 - 1989 - President of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation
Since 1999 - President of the Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation.
Since 2000 - member of the technical committee of FIG.

Winner of the first honorary "Sport IKAR" from the "Bulgarian Sport 2000" foundation.
Winner of the medal "International Woman of the year 2000 - 2001" from the International Biographic Society in Cambridge, England.
Gymnast of the Century.

Iliana Raeva

Born on 15.03.1963 in Sofia.
Club: Levski
Coaches: Zlatka Boneva, Neshka Robeva


1978 European Championship in Madrid, Spain - 6th AA.
1979 World Championship in London, England - 4th AA, 1st Clubs, 2d Ball.
1980 European Championship in Amsterdam, Netherlands - 1st AA, 1st Rope, 1st Hoop, 1st Clubs, 2d Ribbon.
1981 World Championship in Munhen, West Germany - 2d AA, 2d Hoop, 2d Ribbon, 3d Rope.
1982 European Championship in Stavanger, Norway - 3d AA, 3d Rope, 3d Hoop, 3d Clubs, 3d Ribbon.

Since she retired:

She married our famous football player Nasko Sirakov. Iliana lived and worked for a while in Spain. 
Iliana Raeva has two daughters - Slaveia and Violeta.
Iliana created the first private rhythmic gymnastics club in Bulgaria, club "Iliana".
In 1999, she became the Head of the Council of Coaches in the Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation.
She lead the Bulgarian National Team in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney
She was the coach of the Bulgarian ensemble, which won the bronze medal in the Olympic Games in Athens 2004.

Lily Ignatova

Graduate of NSA, member of the Executive Committee of BRGF, President and coach in LILI SPORT Club.


1986 European Championship in Florence, Italy 1st AA, 1st Clubs and Rope, 2nd Ribbon.
Two times winner of the World Cup - 1983 in Beograd and 1986 in Tokyo.
Six times winner of Julieta Shishmanova Cup - 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986.
1985 World Championship in Valladolid, Spain 2nd AA, 1st Ball and Clubs, 3rd Rope
1984 European Championship in Vienna, Austria 4th AA, 1st Hoop, 2nd Ball.
1983 World Championship in Strasbourg, France 2nd AA, 1st Ball and Clubs, 3rd Hoop
1982 European Championship in Stavanger, Norway 5th AA, 1st Ribbon.
1981 World Championship in Munich, West Germany 2nd AA, 1st Rope and Hoop, 2nd Clubs.
1980 European Championship in Amsterdam, Holland 2nd AA, 1st Clubs and Ribbon, 2nd Hoop.

Since she retired:

Lily Ignatova founded the Club LILI SPORT. It exists from the autumn of 2000. At the moment it trains 116 girls at the age between 4 and 10 years. 35 of them train for second year and the rest 81 children are beginners. The coaches are Lily Ignatova and Zlatka Nikolova, and choreographer Elka Polianova.

Lily Ignatova is engaged in choreography. Hers was the idea for the shows:

"Orpheus and Eurydice"  on the screenplay of Georgi Petrov, choreography Lily Ignatova and Asen Pavlov, scenography  Ivan Tokadjiev, costumes - Svila Velichkova.

"The Legend" - music  Georgi Andreev, chreography Lily Ignatova and Ivo Ivanov, soloists  Iva Tepeshanova and Kamen Ivanov. Dance group - Bulgarian Dream Dancers.

Maria Petrova

Born on 13.11.1975 in Plovdiv.
Club: Levski
Coaches: Natalia Muravenova, Neshka Robeva.


1991 - World Championship in Athens, Greece - 2d Team, 4th Ball, 4th Clubs
1992 - European Championship in Stuttgart, Germany - 1st AA, 1st Team.

1992 - Olympics in Barcelona, Spain - 5th AA
1992 - World Championship in Brussels, Belgium - 2d AA, 2d Ball, 2d Clubs, 3d Hoop.
1993 - European Cup in Malaga, Spain - 1st AA, 1st Hoop, 1st Ribbon, 2d Ball.

1993 - World Championship in Alicante, Spain - 1st AA, 1st Ball, 1st Ribbon, 1st Hoop, 3d Clubs
1994 - European Cup in Thessalonica, Greece - 1st AA, 2d Hoop, 3d Ball.
1994 - World Championship in Paris, France - 1st AA, 1st Hoop, 2d Clubs, 2d Ribbon, 3d Ball.
1995 - Universiade in Fukuoka, Japan - 1st AA, 1st Rope, 1st Ball, 1st Clubs, 1st Ribbon.
1995 - World Championship in Vienna, Austria - 1st AA, 1st Clubs, 2d Rope.
1996 - World Championship in Budapest, Hungary - 2d Ball, 3d Clubs.
1996 - Olympics in Atlanta, USA - 5th AA.

Since she retired in 1996:

Maria is a student in the National Sports AcademyShe is married to Borislav Mihailov, former capitan of the Bulgarian National Football Team.
She was elected like a member of the Administrative Council of the Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation (1999).
In November 1999 Maria became a mother of a beautiful daughter - Elinor
Maria Petrova has two perfumes on her name.
In 2000 Maria became a model of the new line Jeni Sport of the famous Bulgarian designer Jeni Jivkova.

Bianka Panova

Born on 27.05.1970 in Sofia.
Clubs: Levski and Slavia
Coaches: Neshka Robeva, Liudmila Dimitrova.

Bianka Panova is the first gymnast that got sweep of all 5 gold medals at the 1987 World Championship with the perfect 40.00 points.


1989 World Championship in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia - 2d AA, 1st Hoop, 1st Rope, 2d Ball.
1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea - 4th AA.
1988 European Championship in Helsinki, Finland - 5th AA, 1st Hoop, 1st Ribbon.
1987 World Championship in Varna, Bulgaria - 1st AA, 1st Hoop,1st Rope, 1st Ribbon, 1st Clubs.
1986 European Championship in Florence, Italy - 1st AA , 1st Rope, 1st Clubs, 2d Ribbon.
1985 World Championship in Valladolid, Spain - 3d AA, 1st Ribbon.

Since she retired:

Bianka Panova retired from rhythmic gymnastics in 1999 and became a coach in Italy. She trained the Italian champion Katia Pietrosanti who won the only medal for Italy from a World Championship.
Now she is a coach in Belgium.
She has one son - Richard.

Won medals from World and European Championships and Olympic Games


Total Gold Silver Bronze
For the period 1963-2000





World Championships





European Championships





Olympic Games









World Champions 1969, 1971, 1973 Maria Gigova
1981 Anelia Ralenkova
1983, 1985 Diliana Goergieva
1987 Bianka Panova
1993, 1994, 1995 Maria Petrova
European Champions 1980 Iliana Raeva
1982, 1984 Anelia Ralenkova
1986 Lily Ignatova, Bianka Panova
1988 Adriana Dunavska, Elizabet Koleva
1990 Julia Baicheva
1992, 1994 Maria Petrova
European Champions
1987 Elizabet Koleva
1989 Dimitrinka Todorova
1991 Zornitsa Kalenska
1995 Teodora Alexandrova

The Rhythmic gymnastic is an Olympic sport from 1988. Applause for Adriana Dunavska - silver medal (Seoul) and the ensemble: Ivelina Taleva Valentina Kevlian Ina Delcheva Viara Vatashka Maia Tabakova and Maria Koleva - also silver medal (Atlanta).


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