I could only see the bar. This is the race where I was able to completely switch off. When I jumped, I flew. I wanted to show that my Bulgaria, that this small Plovdiv with such cool people can be on top of the world.
This is how the great Stefka Kostadinova described how she felt in the moments when she set her world record of 2.09 m in the high jump. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Bulgarian woman’s unattainable achievement. Two female athletes this year have jumped 2.08, but Stefka’s fourth-decade golden 1cm can’t be beaten by anyone else.
I jumped it because I had strong competition and because I believed that the women who had set records before were no more than me, the champion told the BBC studio on Christmas Day.
“I could jump 2.10!” announced Stefka Kostadinova.
She said that at her last Olympics, with which she managed to get this gold – the only one missing in her collection at the time, she had the potential to make her record even more phenomenal.
I went to my first Olympics with the ambition to be first, but I came second and then the world collapsed for me, I was crying and I didn’t know what to do. At the next one in 1994 in Barcelona, I was 4th, I won’t say with what injury. Something still doesn’t happen and the 96th year comes – I realized that if I didn’t do something, I wouldn’t be an Olympic champion. And it worked, Stefka described.
But he added: “I regret that I relaxed when I became the Olympic champion with 2.05. I regret that this girl from Greece Niki Bakoyani, who came second with 2.03, did not jump and she 2.05 to keep me in conditioning because I would go straight to 2.10 and jump it!”
I was in unique shape, Stefka added.
The record outside of sports is being a good person. To be responsive, merciful, not to be hypocritical, not to think badly of others, to be positive, she also said in her Christmas interview.
My life is just beginning – I can have very strong moments, enjoy 5-6 Olympic gold medals for Bulgaria. I can still kiss a Bulgarian woman who will jump 2.10, the head of the BOK wished to herself.