For many, December is a rollercoaster of emotions, reflections on past events, last-moment decisions, and grand-scale resolutions for the next twelve months. But for others, it is that time of the year when the best sports stars gather together for the most prestigious and well-anticipated event in Bulgaria – Sportsperson of the Year Awards – organised by Nove Holding and Vassil Bojkov. The 62nd edition of the event, dedicated to the upcoming Olympic games “Tokyo 2020”, was held on December 19, 2019, in the newly opened “Asics Arena” in Sofia, and by all means, it took the heart and soul of every attendee.
Once again, the standout performers and winners were decided by a panel of 137 renowned sports journalists with the Awards announced in three main categories: Sportsperson of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability, Team of the Year. The winner of the grand prize was the biathlete Vladimir Iliev. Unfortunately, he couldn’t attend the Awards. But he had a very good excuse indeed – although he couldn’t participate in the Awards in person due to the fact he was in France getting ready for the World Cup, Vladimir Iliev did send a warming video message that put a smile people’s faces. For the second year in a row, the National Rhythmic Gymnastics Ensemble was given the “Team of the Year” award. The “Golden Girls” of Bulgaria scooped the silver from the World Cup in Baku and won the gold from at the World Cup Championships in Minsk and Kazan. The award “Sportsperson with a Disability for 2019” was given to Hristian Stoyanov. The annual award by the famous Bulgarian newspaper “Trud” was presented to the coach of the ensemble – Vesela Dimitrova. For the first time in the 62-year history of the survey the “People’s Chice” category was introduced.The statuette for the people’s favourite was presented to the fastest white woman in the world – the Bulgarian sprint athlete Ivet Lalova-Collio.
Thanks to the excellent organisation that started months ago, the glam ceremony was just perfect from beginning to end. Managing to not only to overwhelm everyone but also to exceed all expectations, the Sportsperson of the Year Awards 2019 was a mix between visual show and exciting presence on stage. The audience in the arena and those behind the small screens enjoyed the spectacular light show, video greetingsand thank you speeches from legendary Bulgarian present and former Olympic champions, including the holder of the world high jump record Stefka Kostadinoca – and some of the best athletes in the country, as well as emotional performances by some of the most brilliant Bulgarian musicians and singers. Even the hosts were the perfect blend between the funny and the stylish. This year’s ceremony was hosted by two of the most favorite TV stars in Bulgaria: the Bulgarian presence in the Game of Thrones saga the renowned theatrical and cinema actor Zahari Baharov and the charming and loved by all star Maria Sylvester, TV host of “Bulgaria’s Got Talent” and the local issue of “Strictly Come Dancing”. The surprises continued when the world-renowned ladies from the female folk choir “Cosmic Voices from Bulgaria” came up to the stage. One of the most talented Bulgarian violinists, Zornitsa Hilarionova, who has recently returned from Japan with two first prizes from the prestigious Johann Sebastian Bach Competition, was also part of the program. Other performers included the pianist Mariya Karakusheva as well as the intriguing creator of electronic music – Ivan Shopov. Of course, as any event of such social importance, the ceremony did not lack the presence of governmental representatives. The Bulgarian Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Krassen Kralev himself gave two of the prestigious statuettes to their respective winners, and the Mayor of Sofia, Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova presented the award for the category “Athlete with a Disability”.
Yet, none of this would have been possible without the organisers and main sponsors of the sports event – the Bulgarian philanthropist Vassil Bojkov and Nove Holding. The scale of the event impressed many, including the former coach of “The Golden Girls of Bulgaria” and the current president of the Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation (BRGF) – Mrs.Iliana Raeva. In an emotional post on her social media profile she shared;
Applause for the class and splendor of the 2019 Athlete of the Year ceremony!
Applause to Mr. Vasil Bozhkov and Nove Holding!
This is the most impressive, glamorous, and stylish ceremony ever done in Bulgaria! So much class, taste, and measure! So much magic and fantastic light effects…I haven’t seen anything more sophisticated and beautiful on Bulgarian TV!
An excellent choice for hosts of the fantastic ceremony – Maria Sylvester and Zahari Baharov – elegant and stylish, wonderful professionals who fit right next to our sports elites!
The 2019 Sportsperson of the Year event was an incredible delight for the senses!
I am thrilled that the rhythmic gymnastics once again shone brightly during the Awards. My excellent athletes and brilliant coaches (Vesela Dimitrova, Mihaela Mayevska, Branimira Markova, and Mariana Pamukova) deserve their moments of recognition and awards for their hard work and achievements over the past year! Yes! The year was challenging but very successful at the same time – two Olympic quotas, medals from the World Championship as well as from the European Championship! Many World Cup medals! World recognition for our strength and class!
I believe that next year we will be even stronger, more prosperous, and will delight our numerous fans in Bulgaria and around the world!
I love you, my dear girls! I am proud of you and believe in your strengths and capabilities! And, of course, you were the true goddess of speech and beauty tonight!
I wish all the athletes of Bulgaria who will compete in Tokyo 2020 an excellent and very successful Olympic year!”
Undoubtedly, 2019 was marked by some of the most exciting achievements by Bulgarian athletes in different disciplines and championships across the world. From Vladimir Iliev, who won the silver medal at the Biathlon World Championship back in March. Through Ivet Lalova, who became the 7th fastest woman in the world in the 200m run, to Grigor Dimitrov and his rocketing success during the US Open, and many others. With so many incredible success stories in the sport for the past year, the question now is, will 2020 bring us similar occasions that will make us just as proud?