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Iliana Raeva - all about sport, career, life, the Olympics

Children Lies
I was a very naughty child. It is interesting that at that time RG was of no big interest to me. I was training because everybody was telling that I had qualities, but my character was not appropriate for this lyrical, tender and beautiful sport. Very often I used lies to escape from trainings. To my first coach I was telling that I am seriously ill and to my parents I was telling that we have no trainings. But one time I was disclosed. Because I liked very much to play games with the boys, we played a game in which we shooted blowing with out mouths in a tube (pipe) to different targets. But one day the guys gave me a rusty metal tube and from that metal tube I became all in pimples and had herpeses around my mouth. I used this as a reason to escape from trainings but my coach phoned my family to ask how I treated my allergy and in this way she and my parents understood that I was lying both sides. My behaviour was like this until my first competition. I became only 29th (the last but one). This made me very ambitious and in the next competition I was already 1st. I think this was the turning point in my career, otherwise I do not know what would have become of me with all these lies and the games with metal pipes.
Flowers for the teacher
My first big success was the European title in 1980 in Amsterdam. I was crying on the podium. This success was remarkable because for the first time after Maria Gigova we could break the hegemony of the Russians in RG. When I was listening to music of the national hymn, I told myself that I will keep the flowers they gave me and would give them to my favourite teacher Veneta Markova who taught me from 1st till 4th form in 124 school Vasil Levski in Poduyane. When I returned to Bulgaria, I went there, I opened the door of the classroom and luckily my teacher was there, teaching her new students. At first she could not recognize me, but after that she got up, she hugged me and started to cry. I was already 17 and she told to he children all about me when I was little. It was very romantic. We have already working together with Lilia Ignatova who studied in the same school. We lived with her in the same building. After that I moved to the sports school Emil Markov. In high school Lili, Anelia Ralenkova and me sometimes were doing naughty things. One day we on purpose broke an ampule of chemical element S2 in one overcrowded public bus and immediately it was emptied. On the next stop there were already only 10 people in it. Nobody became suspicious of us, we looked very innocent girls.
Everything is Love
We were acquainted with Nasko after I graduated from high school. We were acquainted by his soccer teammate Krasimir Koev who told me that Nasko wants to go to dinner with me. I was already living in Zona B-5 and there was a very nice restaurant named Dimitrovgrad (also name of a city). Nasko offered me several restaurants including that. I told him, oh I cannot go to Dimitrovgrad, tomorrow I have training. He understood the joke and from the first moment everything between us was going on very smoothly. I will never forget that in Saragosa 1987 he gave me as a present 7 golden bracelets. He gave them one by one. Not at one and the same time but in intervals saying he has in the pocket more.
I will never forget one day in 1983 in Burgas. Nasko came to one competition there with all the national soccer team. The hall was overcrowded but specially for the soccer players they arranged chairs around the carpet. I went to the carpet and turned my back to the audience facing the footballers. I performed my routine specially for them. They reacted very emotionally and stood up to applaud me. The audience did not felt ignored, it also became crazy!
As a football player he played very beautifully. All his matches against CSKA had a special nuance. I am very positive that Levski never lost a game against CSKA when I was in the stadium watching him. All his friends were from CSKA he always warned them that he will beat them. In the beginning they did not believe him and argued but then they gave up.
The girls and the family
Sheinovo hospital with a Cesarian. The big one, Slavea is 20 now, Violeta is 16. When they were born, they called them little stars in the hospital and everybody was very happy with them. They trained tennis and RG but both of them were not as ambitious as us with Nasko. Slavea is now administrative director in my club Iliana and she is a student of psychology at New Bulgarian University. Violeta is a student in the American college. We are very close family. We have dinner together at 19 o'clock, we respect all Bulgarian traditions and national holidays as day of flowers (Tsvetnitsa), day of St. George, St Atanas, Christmas, Easther, St Nicholai. Nasko is very careful father. The girl know that but they have respect for him.
One woman at 40
When I became a coach of the group I had to teach the girls and at the same time to solve organizational problems. The girls went very worried and stressed to the Olympics in Athens. When I saw them so scared, I took the ball and as I am 40 years old, without no preparation whatsoever, I played for them one routine! Of course some of the movements were comic but I did not make even one mistake. The girls watched me surprised, and some of the judges like those from Japan and Holland who were in the hall applauded me. After that they told me that they remembered the elements of the routine of 20 years ago. Of all the apparatuses I like most the hoop and also the ball and the ribbon. I did not like the rope. I was a lyrical gymnasts and did not like the dynamic routines.
In Athens I told the girls that when I was young we were winning always and this helped them to become more confident of themselves. In this way we took the bronze in the group competition in Athens. I told them also that in Japan they accepted me and my teammates as queens. In Japan we saw 100 years old trees which were 15 cms tall (bonsais). The americans were also crazy about us and showed us around Disneyland with tickets of 5 USD.

D. Dimitrov

from newspaper : 7 days sport , 11.12.2004 .