Talented, emotional, stubborn. This is how Teresa Marinova is described – one of the greats in Bulgarian athletics and winner of Olympic gold in the triple jump.
She turned 45 on Monday, and the national record she set at the 2000 Sydney Olympics remains unbroken.
She is the daughter of the track and field athlete and record holder in the 800 meter run – Moncho Marinov. He initially did not want his children to play professional sports to protect them from the hardships he himself had gone through.
That’s why at first she and her brother hide from him that they go to training. Gradually, however, she managed to dissuade him, and the coaches in her native Pleven noticed her talent more and more.
As a teenager, he turned to the triple jump, a tough discipline that led to many injuries. In 1995, she became the European girls’ champion and decided to turn sports into her profession.
“My father has said many times that it was as if they had replaced me with another person (then),” Marinova told Bulgaria on Air. Suddenly, the sports regime becomes her “lifestyle” and she becomes the “total professional”.
A few years later, he underwent two operations in Finland as a result of injuries sustained during his preparations for the World Cup. After one, the doctor asks her if she will continue jumping. She says: “yes, I will become an Olympic champion next year”. The doctor doesn’t believe her.
The incident is from 1999, a year before Marinova won the gold at the Olympic Games in Sydney on the memorable September 24, 2000. “The thought with which I woke up every day was that I would become an Olympic champion,” she also says. “The fact is that this was my childhood dream”.
Then she sets a national record by jumping 15.20m, and her father says she has fulfilled his dream. At that time, her coach was already Hristo Markov – Olympic champion in the same discipline.
Her career continued for another eight years, after which she gave up the sport as she felt she could not compete for another medal at the 2008 Olympics.
Today, Marinova has its own children’s athletics school and teaches at the National Sports Academy (NSA). A mother of two, her daughter competes in her discipline.
In addition to the Olympic gold and European girls’ gold, Marinova won the girls’ world title in 1996, when she set a world record for the age group with 14.62m. A year later, she finished sixth at the Worlds in Athens, then won bronze at the Europeans in Budapest, and in 1999 she was fourth at the World Championships in Maebashi.
In 2001, she became the world champion in Lisbon with 14.91 m in indoor, and a year later she also won the European gold for women.