The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Bulgaria

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This page contains a list of the greatest Bulgarian Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,055 Athletes, 26 of which were born in Bulgaria. This makes Bulgaria the birth place of the 31st most number of Athletes behind Estonia and Austria.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Bulgarian Athletes of all time. This list of famous Bulgarian Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Bulgarian Athletes.

Photo of Stefka Kostadinova

1. Stefka Kostadinova (1965 - )

With an HPI of 64.16, Stefka Kostadinova is the most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 41 different languages on wikipedia.

Stefka Georgieva Kostadinova (Bulgarian: Стефка Георгиева Костадинова; born March 25, 1965) is a Bulgarian retired athlete who competed in the high jump. Her world record of 2.09 metres has stood since 1987. She was the 1996 Olympic champion, a twice World champion and five-times a World Indoor champion. She has been the president of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee since 2005.

Photo of Naim Süleymanoğlu

2. Naim Süleymanoğlu (1967 - 2017)

With an HPI of 64.12, Naim Süleymanoğlu is the 2nd most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Naim Süleymanoğlu (23 January 1967 – 18 November 2017) was a Bulgarian-born Turkish Olympic weightlifter. He was a seven-time World Weightlifting champion and a three-time Olympic gold medalist and set multiple world records. He is widely considered to have been the best pound for pound Olympic weightlifter of all time, and one of the greatest Olympic weightlifters ever.At the 1988 Summer Olympics, he set multiple world records in the snatch, clean and jerk, and total. He was awarded the Olympic Order in 2001. In 2000 and 2004, he was elected a member of the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.Süleymanoğlu is the first and only weightlifter to have snatched 2.5 times his body weight and also is the second of only seven lifters to date to clean and jerk three times his body weight. He is the only weightlifter to date to clean and jerk 10 kilos more than triple his bodyweight.

Photo of Ivanka Khristova

3. Ivanka Khristova (1941 - )

With an HPI of 58.70, Ivanka Khristova is the 3rd most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Ivanka Marinova Hristova (Bulgarian: Иванка Маринова Христова; born 19 November 1941 in Osikovitsa, Sofia) is a retired Bulgarian shot putter. She won the gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics, and the bronze in 1972. In addition she won the 1976 European Indoor Championships.

Photo of Yordanka Donkova

4. Yordanka Donkova (1961 - )

With an HPI of 58.46, Yordanka Donkova is the 4th most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Yordanka Donkova (Bulgarian: Йорданка Донкова) (born 28 September 1961) is a Bulgarian former hurdling athlete, notable for winning an Olympic gold medal and bronze medal as well as 9 medals at European indoor and outdoor championships. Donkova set four 100 m hurdles world records in 1986. Her fifth world record, a time of 12.21 set in 1988, was beaten only in 2016 by Kendra Harrison. In total, Donkova has 16 medals from major athletics tournaments.

Photo of Diana Yorgova

5. Diana Yorgova (1942 - )

With an HPI of 56.97, Diana Yorgova is the 5th most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Dianа Yorgova (Bulgarian: Диана Йоргова) (born 9 December 1942 in Lovech) is a former Bulgarian athlete, who competed mainly in the Long Jump. She competed for Bulgaria at the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, Germany in the Long Jump where she won the silver medal. She also competed at the 1964 Summer Olympics.Yorgova is married to Bulgarian gymnast Nikola Prodanov, whom she married during the 1964 Summer Olympics in the Olympic village.

Photo of Mariya Petkova

6. Mariya Petkova (1950 - )

With an HPI of 55.80, Mariya Petkova is the 6th most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Mariya Dimitrova Petkova (Bulgarian: Мария Димитрова Петкова, née Vergova (Вергова); born 3 November 1950 in Plovdiv) is a retired Bulgarian discus thrower. In 1976 she won an Olympic silver medal behind Evelin Schlaak, a standing that would repeat itself in 1980. This year she also achieved a personal best throw of 71.80 metres. In 1982 she won a European Championship silver medal behind countrywoman Tsvetanka Khristova, who is twelve years younger. One year later Petkova won the bronze medal at the first World Championships in Athletics.

Photo of Yordanka Blagoeva

7. Yordanka Blagoeva (1947 - )

With an HPI of 55.32, Yordanka Blagoeva is the 7th most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Yordanka Blagoeva (Bulgarian: Йорданка Благоева, born 19 January 1947) is a former Bulgarian high jumper. She competed at the 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympics and finished in 17th, 2nd (silver medal), 3rd (bronze medal) and 16th place, respectively. She won the high jump at the 1965 Summer Universiade and 1973 European Athletics Indoor Championships. On 24 September 1972 she became the first Bulgarian athlete to break a world record. Next year she also set a new indoor high jump record, and was ranked as the best high jumper in Europe.In 1972 Blagova graduated from a Sports Academy. She later served as president of Bulgarian aerobics federation.She is considered to be one of Bulgaria's top athletes. In 2017, when she was aged 70, the documentary film Beyond the Jump was made to cover her life and career.

Photo of Halil Mutlu

8. Halil Mutlu (1973 - )

With an HPI of 54.93, Halil Mutlu is the 8th most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Halil Mutlu (born Halil Aliev (Bulgarian: Халил Алиев) on 14 July 1973 in Postnik, Bulgaria) is a former professional Turkish weightlifter with several World and Olympic championship titles. Mutlu is one of the four weightlifters who has achieved three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games. His weightlifting career includes five World championships, nine European championships and more than 20 world records at 52 kg (115 lb), 54 kg (119 lb) and 56 kg (123 lb) combined.

Photo of Norair Nurikyan

9. Norair Nurikyan (1948 - )

With an HPI of 54.80, Norair Nurikyan is the 9th most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Norair Nurikyan (Bulgarian: Норайр Нурикян; Armenian: Նորայր Նուրիկյան, born 26 July 1948) is a former Bulgarian weightlifter of Armenian descent. He is a two-time Olympic Champion and was awarded the Hero of Socialist Labor of Bulgaria and Order of the Bulgaria, First Degree titles. In 1994, Nurikyan was inducted into the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.

Photo of Ginka Zagorcheva

10. Ginka Zagorcheva (1958 - )

With an HPI of 53.01, Ginka Zagorcheva is the 10th most famous Bulgarian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Ginka Zagorcheva-Boycheva, Bulgarian: Гинка Загорчева-Бойчева (born April 12, 1958 in Plovdiv) is a former hurdling athlete from Bulgaria. Most notable for winning the 100 metres hurdles at the 1987 World Championships. She held the world record for a year with a time of 12.25 sec, until it was beaten by Yordanka Donkova in August 1988. She also competed in the women's 100 metres hurdles at the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Pantheon has 26 people classified as athletes born between 1941 and 1994. Of these 26, 24 (92.31%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Stefka Kostadinova, Ivanka Khristova, and Yordanka Donkova. The most famous deceased athletes include Naim Süleymanoğlu and Tsvetanka Khristova. As of October 2020, 6 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Norair Nurikyan, Svetla Otsetova, and Tanyu Kiryakov.

Living Athletes

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Deceased Athletes

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Newly Added Athletes (2020)

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