Tsvetelina Stoyanova's Surgery Proceeded Successfully

As we feverishly check the news for more updates, here is a brief summary of the latest information regarding Tsvetelina Stoyanova's treatment and recovery as well as a bit about the reactions of her teammates and coaches to the incident and the widespread support and sympathy they all have received. Please note that Tsveti is still in the hospital and it is early to make conclusive statements. I am thankful for the fans from around the world who have been looking for updates in English and keeping us all in their thoughts and prayers.

The Bulgarian newspaper "Monitor" wrote yesterday that Tsvetelina Stoyanova underwent a four-hour surgery to remove broken pieces from her thoracic vertebrae and insert metal plates. When her condition improves further, she will need to undergo a less serious procedure to repair a cervical vertebra as well.

Currently, the main concern of the medical team remains the condition of Tsveti's lungs. Recovery is slow  and Tsveti will continue to use a machine for assisted breathing.      The doctors considered performing a procedure on Tsveti's trachea to asset with breathing but this option was rejected. The spinal surgery had been planned and all of Tsveti's family and friends were warned not to visit her on the day of the surgery. However, her teammates from the Bulgarian rhythmic group already visited Tsveti upon their return from the European Championship in Holon. They went to the hospital immediately. There is no shred of doubt that they thought about Tsveti during the entire competition and that they dedicated their efforts to her.

The team brought Tsveti the additional medal that the organizers in Israel provided especially for her as well as stuffed animals that fans in Israel gave the gymnasts during the competition for the European title. The team has expressed high hopes for Tsveti's recovery and has assured the fans that everyone in the Bulgarian federation has always been extremely supportive of Tsveti. The group believes they made the right decision by competing in Holon and that Tsveti herself would have wanted them to follow their dreams. 

Hristiana Todorova stated that the Bulgarian group received a lot of sympathy and support from all of its competitors and specifically pointed out to the teams of Russia, Belarus, Israel, Spain and Italy. It has been amazing to watch how this team stood strong and united and how they have deserved everyone's admiration even more. 

Meanwhile, legendary coach Neshka Robeva, who coached both the current Bulgarian Federation president Iliana Raeva and the group coach Ina Ananieva has stated that she was a lot more demanding to the gymnasts in the past than coaches are now and that the media should stop placing blame for Tsveti's accident on coaches and athletes.  Most Bulgarian fans are in agreement with Mrs. Robeva on this issue and also agree that the Bulgarian media has done a very poor job reporting recent gymnastics events in general. In fact, some analysts point out that various TV channels have violated media laws that govern the ethical conducts of journalists and that those channels will have to pay damages.

We certainly hope that no further false rumors will surface during the upcoming months of extensive preparation for the Olympic Games and that the Bulgarian team will once again rise and deliver memorable performances to be cherished and revered by generations of young gymnasts and admirers of this beautiful sport.


We Keep Hoping for Tsvetelina Stoyanova

The Bulgarian Minister of Healthcare, Mr. Peter Moskov, has visited the central intensive care unit in the Pirogov Hospital where Tsvetelina Stoyanova is recovering since last Tuesday. The Prime Minister, Mr. Boyko Borisov, has also asked about her condition every day since the incident.

Here are the latest news from the doctors in Pirogov, who are consummate professionals and have seen many cases of trauma:

- Tsveti does have fractured vertebrae but overall her spinal cord is not critically injured, which means that she would likely be able to walk and move without tingling or numbness in her arms and legs when she recovers;

- She has a head injury which is fairly minor given she came down from a height of about 18 meters;

- She has a minor pancreas injury and internal swelling which is common for trauma caused by a fall from a substantial height;

- The biggest issue right now is the condition of her lungs which were punctured in several places due to the fall. This is why she is still using assisted breathing and is in a medically induced comma; the comma was induced with medication in order to keep her breathing;

- Her blood tests in the last couple of days have shown stable hemoglobin levels;

I am personally grateful to the doctors at Pirogov not only for treating Tsveti but also for sharing this information with us so that we can have some knowledge of the situation as we continue to hope and pray for Tsveti's recovery.


More Than Bronze, More Than Words

Today the Bulgarian national team won the bronze medal with hoops and clubs at the European Championship in Holon. In their fairy-tale blue leotards, they quietly reminded us  that this sport is not about glitter and pirouettes. It is about strength of character as much as any other sport. And, just like in any sport, actions speak more clearly than any words. 

We all saw this team act as the moral winner by the standards of both sport and life. They did not give in to false accusations, to the pressure of sensation-seekers, and to the hypocrisy of former supporters.
A reserve gymnast going to her first big event on a short notice of several days. A team captain, who had take her team out of the carpet and then proudly held up a medal for an injured teammate. A  dedicated coach who was blamed for a tragedy she did not cause and did not back down from her professional duties.  In this championship they acted as one. They held together as a team and held to the value of their work.

Why did they choose to perform despite the tragedy? The answer is that this performance was about standing up for what you believe and what you have strived to become. Winning a medal is not the reason. Saying that you support a teammate is not the reason. The will to do your best, in the most distressing of circumstances, is the real and the greatest achievement. 

Many people outside the Bulgarian team needed to see this lesson in honor and courage. This team will continue to perform professionally, ethically and with respect to those who deserve it. The coaches and the gymnasts will work together  and they will make decisions together.  They will not allow anyone to be made a scapegoat. They will go to Rio with the same mental strength and zeal.

The greatest support we can give them as fans is to try to be like them.