Tsvetelina Stoyanova's MRI Results Bring Hope, Bulgarian Team Continues Strong

The Bulgarian media has announced that Tsvetelina Stoyanova's MRI has shown no serious spinal cord injury, which makes everyone hopeful for her future recovery. Various individuals who may or may not be familiar with Tsveti's situation, such as former individual gymnast Nastia Kisse and former group gymnast Maia Paunovska, have continued to blame the Bulgarian Federation for Tsveti's tragedy. The Bulgarian group members have all made statements saying that they always supported Tsveti and treated her like a sister and that the same applies for everyone on the team including the coaches. Hristiana Todorova and team captain Mihaela Maevska have expressed disappointment that some people have claimed the team should not compete in Holon. They asserted the position that they continue to do their work and work towards their Olympic dream while always thinking of Tsveti and dedicating their efforts to her.

In all of this turmoil, Bulgarian individual gymnasts, Neviana Vladinova and Katrin Taseva were unfortunately placed in the first group of the competition where the scoring started with a lower base. Vladinova did 4 very strong routines, but only received over 18 for her hoop.  Neviana has the pressure and responsibility to show that she is an amazing leader of the Bulgarian team and an example of other individual gymnasts. By placing in the top 10 at this European Championship, she has fulfilled that promise 100%. I think her resilience and courage can inspire the wonderful junior gymnasts Bulgaria has brought to this event such as Ioana Nikolova who has made the finals among juniors. 

I would specifically like to point out how strong and focused coach Branimira Markova has been in both working with Nevi and also encouraging her and supporting her even as routines were not performed cleanly. We have all seen tremendous growth in Nevi and it is only a matter of time before she truly masters additional difficulty to improve the quality of her routines. But it is also important that she step out as a very confident performer and the coaches are instrumental in building and nurturing this confidence. Branimira and Nevi show they have a beautiful bond and a fantastic coaching relationship.

Further to the joy of fans, Katrin Taseva made a very successful European debut with very, very strong ball routine, and finally  a cleanly performed ribbon! I truly believe that Katrin Taseva deserves to cross the 18.000 mark with the difficulty and risk in her routines and that it is just a matter of time and some additional confidence building before that happens.

For Katrin in particular, this was a first time at such a big event and she needed to have her teammates and coaches support her in a calm and focused manner. It is impossible for this kind of support to occur when media and even previous competitors such as Kisse have chosen to point fingers at people instead of being sympathetic to the entire team in this difficult situation. For this reason, the fact that Katrin looked stronger and stronger with each routine just points to the brilliant future ahead of her. I only wish Katrin had become part of the team earlier. 

Overall, I am deeply satisfied that Bulgaria is finally represented not by only one but two gymnasts who choose to reach out for new heights in their work by showing original elements, being expressive, staying focused and challenged and also being there for each other as teammates and friends. 

I believe that fans around the world need to hear that girls in the Bulgarian team are inspired and inspiring, that they love what they do and look forward to competing. It is both sad and unfair that some individuals have chosen to place the blame for Tsveti's situation on coaches and on gymnastics in general. As we observe both the group and the individual gymnasts on the Bulgarian team, we can see they are hard-working, spirited and compassionate people who constantly demonstrate both strength and caring for one another.  I wish them the best of luck before the Olympics.


Tsvetelina Stoyanova's Condition Has Not Changed, Bulgarian Team Performs Beyond All Expectations

First, I would like to thank all the fans around the world for their moral support for the Bulgarian team. For those who have been asking for updates: Tsveti's condition is stable, though still critical. She is using assisted breathing due to lung injury. She is able to move her toes and fingers. An MRI has been performed to further ascertain the extent of her trauma. No additional surgeries are scheduled to be performed at this stage.  Some newspapers have written that there is great hope she would be able to walk when she recovers. Also, the Bulgarian hospital "Pirogov" has requested that people donate blood for Tsveti.

In the meantime, Tsveti's teammates qualified in 5th place at the European Championship in Holon despite an issue with their music for the first routine where they stepped out on the carpet and the wrong music played. After this organizational gaffe, they still managed to show a wonderful routine. 

I would like to draw the attention to the reserve gymnast, Lyubomira Kazanova, who has done an absolutely amazing job performing under pressure and on a very short notice. The team did a flawless club and hoop routine. Their courage will be remembered forever. The second routine, with 5 ribbons,  was the last one in the all around championship. The girls had minor mistakes with the ribbons, but, overall, stayed very focused and clean. They will participate in the finals on Sunday where I deeply hope that they will be even more confident and strong.

I would like to ask that all fans around the world congratulate and support the whole Bulgarian team, including the coaches, federation members,  and psychologist. Additional encouragement is also much needed for the individual gymnasts Neviana Vladinova and Katrin Taseva, who I am sure have also been  greatly emotionally affected by the tragedy.

While many have tried to place the blame on the Federation for Tsveti's condition, those who are close to the team know that everyone supported Tsveti and that she was seen by a clinical psychologist to help with her health condition. The coaches and the Bulgarian Federation have done everything to make Tsveti a successful gymnast and will support her in the future with her recovery as well.


Hope and Prayers for World Champion Tsvetelina Stoyanova

Fans around the world have been shocked and dismayed to hear that a member of the Bulgarian rhythmic gymnastics group, Tsvetelina Stoyanova, has attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the 6th floor balcony of her apartment in the Sofia neighborhood "Nadezhda" (the name means "Hope"). She is in a critical state at the top Bulgarian trauma hospital, where she was admitted with heavy bleeding. The bleeding is now under control and her spleen, which was ruptured in the fall, has been removed.  

The Bulgarian papers have, sadly, published highly contradictory and not sufficiently respectful reports claiming that Tsveti's coaches and the gymnastics Federation pushed her to an emotional breakdown by making the decision not to have her participate in next week's European championship in Israel. One of the gymnast's neighbors allegedly stated that she came home very upset the night before and shared that she would not participate in the big event. Some reports have also claimed that Tsveti had panic attacks before competitions which led to the decision to remove her from the team.

Tsveti started gymnastics at age 7, became national champion at age 14, and was only a teenager when she lost her mother, the person who brought her to the gym for the first time. In an interview about her career, she shares that her mother got her first leotard. Her father and brother are also athletes: their sport is boxing. Here is Tsveti as a junior gymnast performing with hoop as a real breathing angel:

Some reports claim that the 21-year old gymnast lives with her grandmother, but a TV show in the past featured an interview with a boyfriend, a soccer player, who was living with her at the time. Needless to say, some media outlets have claimed that personal and romantic woes were the reason for this tragedy.

Bulgarian media and media around the world need daily reminders that mental health is a delicate and complex condition and that the last thing we need is to try to point fingers at people who are suffering with Tsveti as she is going through this terrible time. We need to remember that mental problems are treatable and that individuals who suffer need our full respect and support. As do their loved ones, co-workers, teammates and fans.

Tsveti was a world champion with the Bulgarian group in 2014. She is one of the most loved Bulgarian gymnasts and I am sure that all of the coaches she worked with, her teammates and the entire Bulgarian Federation wish her nothing but health and happiness. I am certain that thousands of fans keep both her and her team in their prayers in this difficult time.