Bulgaria at the Olympics

Bulgaria is one of the countries that were present in the first Olympic Games in 1896. Granted that they only sent one athlete, the gymnast Charles Champaud, they were still represented. He was technically Swiss but since he was residing in Bulgaria as a teacher when he joined the Olympics, the credit went to Bulgaria.

Bulgaria was not represented in the Olympics from 1900 to 1920. Bulgaria actually didn't even have an official Olympic Committee when they were represented in the 1896 Olympic. Their National Olympic Committee was established in 1923. The year after, they returned to the Summer Games by sending twenty four athletes to Paris, France. They also participated in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

They missed the 1932 Games in Los Angeles, California, USA. They again showed up in the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, Germany then missed the first Olympic Games after World War II which was held in London, England (1948). Up to this point, with all of their participation, Bulgaria has never won an Olympic medal. But all is about to change in 1952. Boxer Boris Nikolov made Bulgarian history by being the first Olympic medalist when he took the bronze in the men's middleweight division in the 1952 Summer Games held in Helsinki, Finland. He also set the trend for Bulgaria because from this point on, they have never come out empty handed ever again from the Summer Games. The only time that they didn't receive any Olympic honor was in the 1984 Los Angeles Games, as they participated in the Soviet-led boycott.

They returned in 1988 in Seoul, Korea and had one of their best performances in the Summer Games taking home a total of 35 Olympic medals that included 10 gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze medals.

Bulgaria is also one of the long time participants of the Winter Games never missing a single one since their first participation in 1936. They, however, had to wait 44 years before getting their first Olympic medal in the Winter Games. Skier Ivan Lebanov took the bronze in the cross-country skiing (men's 40 km). They again had to wait many years before winning their next medal, which happens to be gold. In 1998, Ekaterina Dafovska took the top place for Biathlon (women's 15 km). She is Bulgaria's first ever gold medalist for the Winter Games.

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