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Young biathlete Milena Todorova dreaming of Olympic medal

She could be the jewel of any fashion catwalk but she has chosen the biathlon course instead, in order to follow her dream of becoming an Olympic medal winner someday.

Milena Todorova has achieved great success for Bulgaria in youth biathlon - she won three medals in three different disciplines at the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships in Lenzerheide (Switzerland). The 22-year-old Bulgarian won silver in the individual discipline and bronze medals in sprint and pursuit. This week, she will make her debut in the women's biathlon World Cup, but her big goal for the season is gold medal at the European Championship for her age.

“I did not expect to win three medals at the World Championships,” Milena Todorova says. “I was well prepared for the difficult course and the higher altitude, but I didn't know in which discipline I would win a medal. Throughout the summer, I trained outdoors at Belmeken and was physically prepared for the competition. Unfortunately, the shooting did not work out very well, but still I managed to make up for most mistakes by speed. And I can confidently say that I've made the progress I've been working on for so many years."

The young biathlete discovered biathlon by accident after a doctor recommended to her parents that some kind of sport would be good for her. "I started almost as a joke because of a health problem, but today I can't imagine doing anything else," she recalls. And she set goals as high as the mountains.

The mountain scenery and the wide horizons are "psychologically liberating" for Milena. But perhaps the biggest inspiration comes from her boyfriend – Bulgaria's best athlete for 2019 – Vladimir Iliev. Both from Troyan and both with silver medals from world biathlon championships, today they are looking only towards the top.

"Of course, having such a person with you is another great inspiration and motivation," says the biathlete. “Because you see how someone else can also succeed, although we are not a large delegation and come from a small country. I think that friendship drives success.”

According to Milena, her Olympic Games will be those in Milan in 2026 and that is when she hopes she would win her biggest medal. It is no accident that Ekaterina Dafovska is her biggest role model and advisor in sports. When Dafovska became Bulgaria’s only biathlon Olympic champion in Nagano, Milena was a newborn baby but she could be her successor.

Irina Nikulchina, who is part of the golden generation in Bulgarian women's biathlon, says Milena is the greatest hope in their sport. "You always have to give 100, even 110 percent of yourself into your training, especially knowing that you are doing it for some goal," the athlete adds. And what better motivation be than a shiny gold Olympic medal.

English: Alexander Markov

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