In the absence of the sick Boryana Kalein, the star of 17-year-old Stiliyana Nikolova rose in rhythmic gymnastics
A new star rose in the firmament of Bulgarian rhythmic gymnastics and quickly applied to shine on the world stage. In the first two days of the planet championship in Sofia, 17-year-old Stiliyana Nikolova won three medals on the individual apparatus – something that no Bulgarian grace had achieved in 21 years.
The Cairo-born teenager won three silver medals in the individual event – hoop, clubs and ribbon. The last Bulgarian woman with so many medals from the world championship was Simona Peycheva, who won six awards in Madrid in 2001 – gold in hoop, ball and clubs, silver in rope and all-around and bronze in the team competition.
In the “Arena Armeets” hall yesterday and today, Nikolova received scores of 33,400 points for her performance with hoop, 32,600 with clubs and 31,850 with tape. The titles were won by the Italian Sofia Raffaelli, who triumphed with gold on hoop (34.850), ball (34.900) and ribbon (32.650) and took bronze on clubs (31.850). German Daria Varfolomeev became the club champion with 33,550 points.
Stiliyana is the daughter of two iconic Bulgarian athletes who have been living in Egypt for almost three decades. Her father, Iliya Dyakov, is a former football player of Dobruja, CSKA and Slavia, a participant with the national team at the `86 World Cup in Mexico. Her mother, Paulina Krasteva, is a former gymnast, twice world and once European champion with the Bulgarian ensemble in the late 1980s.
On Saturday, Nikolova will argue for the honors in the individual all-around final. The World Championship in Sofia continues tomorrow with the ensemble all-around. The Bulgarian team will present its combination with the 12th starting number in Group B, which starts at 16:55.
The planet championship in the Bulgarian capital is the first qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. Quotas will be given to the first three athletes in the all-around, as well as the first three teams in the ensembles.
The successes of Stiliyana Nikolova were partially overshadowed by the forced withdrawal from the world championship of the leader of the Bulgarian national team, Boryana Kalein. The 22-year-old competitor was rushed to hospital due to a viral illness. Information about her condition is scarce, but according to posts on social networks she is improving.
“Dear fans, we have received many questions about the condition of Boryana Kalein. We understand that you are excited, as are we. We are constantly in touch with the doctors. Boryana is still in the hospital, she has a temperature, but it is lower than yesterday. She will have tests , after which the doctors will assess how her treatment will continue,” says the official announcement of the BFHG on Facebook.