It has been interesting to watch the Olympics this year. Olympic viewing in Bulgaria is quite different then in the U.S. There are so many American athletes that American sports channels can only focus on a fraction of them. Unless there is an American superstar present there is little chance that a given event will get much air time.
The Bulgarian contingent is much smaller, so more sports featuring other countries are covered. Also, when a Bulgarian competes it is a big deal. When a Bulgarian wins a medal it is an even bigger deal.
Last night Bulgaria got its first medal of 2012. The amazing female wrestler Stanka Hristova brought home the silver in the 72k Freestyle wrestling category. We were all cheering her on in the gold medal match against Russia’s Natalia Vorobieva. After the match during the press interview Stanka was unusually hard on herself for her loss. At one point the journalist interviewing her reminded Stanka of what an amazing accomplishment a silver medal is. I was a little puzzled as to why she was beating herself up so much until I heard her followup interview this afternoon.
Stanka does not just view this as a personal defeat, but as a defeat for her country that she brought about. She saw herself in a position to bring home gold for all of Bulgaria, and possibly the only gold for this year. She feels like she let the whole country down by bringing home the silver.
This also is quite different then the way most Americans athletes view the games. If one American gets silver instead of gold hardly anyone notices. As of the writing of this blog, America has 39 gold medals, 25 silver, and 26 bronze. One upgrade in any category would hardly be noticed. However when a country has only one medal the color matters quite a bit more.
Personally I see Stanka Hristova as a great Olympian. I believe most Bulgarians do as well. She is, so far, the only Bulgarian to bring home a medal of any color this year. Good job Stanka! You did your country proud.