Bulgaria’s Olympic and European silver medallist talks effusively about her long-held passion for high jumping.
"I was almost raised at the track because my mother (Valia who finished fifth for Bulgaria in the 4x100m at the 1988 Olympic Games) and father (Krasimir the 1981 European Junior 400m hurdles champion) were both athletes. I started out as a sprinter but my high jump journey started by accident. I was aged about 14 when I saw some people high jumping at the track and it looked like fun. I was tall and skinny, so a natural fit for the event, and when I first tried to jump I thought it was cool. The very next day I entered my first high jump competition which I won. That was the point I thought, okay, I want to be a professional high jumper.
"I developed over time and started to take the sport a lot more seriously after winning the European Junior bronze medal in 2007 and the following year World U20 silver.
"I was lucky in Bulgaria to have the great Stefka Kostadinova –-the world record holder-– to draw upon for inspiration. Her jumping was very impressive.
"What I really love about high jump is that feeling of flying in the air and that sense of freedom during that moment. What I also like is the objectivity of the event. You either make a height or you don’t make a height. It is a sport where you don’t lose a lot of energy thinking about other people and I really like that.
"I also love the fact the high jump is a very technical discipline. You need to be very precise and very smart to execute well. You are playing with different perceptions of time and at the moment I am working on many new elements to my jump, which will involve spending more time in the air. When I manage to master this, I believe I will finally experience what it is like to really be a high jumper!
"I am very fortunate to have received the benefit of the athletics wisdom of my parents but also many people in track and field. There are so many people with different experiences and knowledge to draw upon.
"Another aspect of the sport I really love, is regardless of how wealthy a country is, success is more about individual performance and I find this very inspiring. I hope by my actions I am a positive role model to other athletes in Bulgaria."
Steve Landells for the IAAF