Jordan Jovtchev: 39-Year-Old Bulgarian Olympian Makes Men’s Gymnastics Final

Jordan Jovtchev, the 39-year-old Olympian, has qualified for the still rings finals, a feat in itself that is even bigger for the Bulgarian gymnast, who is the oldest man competing in the gymnastics for the London Olympics.

Not only are the still rings exhausting, since they require a combination of strength, technique, and flexibility, because gymnasts must swing around, and then hold strength poses for at least two seconds, then fight through a turning and twisting dismount, landing perfectly. But Jovtchev, the oldest gymnastics athlete in the 2012 London Olympics did it, reports Yahoo News.

Jovtchev, competing in his sixth Olympics, will attempt to take home his fifth Olympic medal in an event he didn’t even think he would qualify for.

In a sport of young gymnasts, the Bulgarian gymnast’s gray hair is sure to stand out, and when he took his final bow after his stint on the rings Saturday, he was barely able to lift his hurting arms to wave and salute the cheering crowd. He then sat down to rest, thinking that he had performed his last round at the Olympics, reports the Globe and Mail.

Jordan Jovtchev was stunned 20 minutes later, as the scoreboard showed his name as a finalist, meaning he will perform one last time. For a man who is competing with a partially torn bicep, as well as a “half-way broken wrist,” it is no wonder he seemed so shocked at the results, which showed he squeezed into the final by a mere 0.08 of a point.

Jovtchev, the Bulgarian gymnast who has four Olympic medals, but no gold, stated:

“I’m tired now. I didn’t even hope I would make the final, I just told Kras ‘I’m finished’ and now I’ve got to go again.”

When asked if there was any possibility the Bulgarian gymnast could win gold on the still rings, Jordan responded:

“I have a partially torn bicep muscle, my wrist is half way broken. I’m almost 40, I’ve hung around longer than I needed to.”

But considering Jovtchev’s other job is the president of the Bulgarian gymnastics federation, his retirement means he will still stay close to the sport he loves. He also hopes that his longevity in gymnastics will inspire other gymnasts to follow in his footsteps. The 39-year-old rings finalist said:

“By me being here I’m getting support for the next generation. We’re building a new gym as government is helping us now. We don’t have anybody else making a name yet. We have good kids but they are 12, 13. It’s an inspiration for the young guys to see me hanging around. Hopefully eventually they will make a name.”

Are you excited to see Jordan Jovtchev compete in the men’s gymnastics finals on the still rings?

Check out Jordan Jovtchev in the 2008 Beijing Olympics below:

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