Diana Dudeva (BUL)

Dudeva at the 1986 GWG
Photo by Tom Theobald.
Check out Tom's photography site!

Diana Dudeva, Bulgaria's first and only Olympic medallist in women's artistic gymnastics to date!

For a thorough listing of Dudeva's competitive results, please visit Gymn Forum's Dudeva biography

Diana Dudeva was born on July 7, 1968 in Pleven, Bulgaria and trained under Ivan Kondev at ZSKA Sofia. At age 12 she made her international debut, competing in a junior dual meet against Poland. She placed sixth all-around.

Dudeva gained valuable experience over the next two years, populating her gymnastics resume with wins at the 1981 Junior Balkan Championships (2nd FX) and 1982 Leverskusen Cup (1st AA).  The experience paid off and in 1983 she enjoyed a successful transition to the senior ranks. At the 1983 World Championships that year Dudeva and her teammates came close to medalling (Bulgaria finished 4th), and her 34th place finish after team optionals would have guaranteed her advancement to the AA finals were it not for the 3-per-country rule.

Photo by Tom Theobald.
Check out Tom's photography site!

At 16, Dudeva was the "right" age for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Politics would dictate otherwise however, and Bulgaria joined the Soviet boycott of these Games. While those countries who participated in the boycott organized their own "Alternate Games" in Olomouc, I believe that Dudeva was not part of the Bulgarian delegation. (Can anyone confirm?).

Like many of her teammates, the lack of an Olympic experience propelled her career past what might have otherwise been a time to retire. Dudeva enjoyed some bright moments in 1985, winning her country's national championships and medalling at the Balkan Championships (2nd AA, 2nd UB, 1st BB), Cottbus Cup (3rd UB), French International (3rd FX), Golden Sands (2nd AA, 1st V, 1st FX), and Leverskusen Cup (1st AA). Having placed in the top 10 at Europeans that year, and qualified to three event finals, Dudeva was poised for promising results at that year's World Championships. Unfortunately a missed beam routine dropped her to 24th place overall.

Over the next two years, Dudeva and teammate Boriana Stoyanova led the Bulgarian team and championed Bulgarian gymnastics in numerous internationals. Dudeva enjoyed some impressive placements, including a bronze medal on beam at the 1986 Goodwill Games and wins at the 1987 Belgian Gym Masters and Blume Memorial. A shinning moment came in Moscow at the 1987 European Championships, where Dudeva capped off a bronze place finish in the AA with a silver on bars.

Dudeva at the 1991 World Prof.
Champs
. Photo used with the expressed permission of Gymn Forum

As was the case for many athletes, the 1988 Olympic proved to be a natural end for Dudeva's competitive career. She could hardly have asked for a better ending, placing in the top 10 in the AA competition and winning bronze on the floor exercise. In doing so, Dudeva became Bulgaria's first and only Olympic medallist in women's gymnastics to date!

Dudeva was a coach at the 
2004 European Championships

Following the 1988 Olympics, Dudeva married a fellow gymnast. She and husband Plamen welcomed their first child, a daughter, into the world. In 1991 Dudeva delighted fans by participating in the World Professional Championships, showing herself to be in excellent shape!

The family eventually moved to Greece, settling in Thessaloniki where Diana and Plamen coach gymnastics. As of 2001, their daughter, Radia, competes on the more senior of these teams, which consists of aspiring elite gymnasts aged 10 to 11 years of age. The second group consists of younger gymnasts, aged 5 to 7 years of age. Diana and Plamen have already had great success with coaching, placing 7 girls to Greece's senior national team. Diana and Plamen's second child, a boy, is 5 years old.

. This page was created on March 20, 1999 and last updated on April 22, 2001.

 

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