Ivan Abadzhiev died at 85
Former Bulgarian weightlifting coach Ivan Abadzhiev, one of the sport’s most successful and prominent figures, died at age 85.
Widely known as “The Pope of Weightlifting,” Abadzhiev led Bulgaria to 10 Olympic, 57 world and 64 European titles between 1968 and 2000, making weightlifting the most successful sport in the Balkan country’s. As a competitor, he won Bulgaria’s first World Championship medal after finishing second in the men’s 67.5 kg bodyweight category in Tehran in 1957. He was voted “Coach of the Century” in Bulgaria.
Abadzhiev, who went on to train the Turkish national team in the 1990s, also served as a lawmaker in his homeland before moving to work as coach in the United States.
Under Abadzhiev, the weightlifting team hit a low at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul when the country’s former Communist authorities sent them home after two athletes were stripped of their gold medals due to positive doping tests.
It is very unfortunate that in his latest years, his name was linked to various doping scandals as since 1946, Bulgaria registered 47 doping cases.