There is something to be said about longevity in any pursuit, but to remain relevant throughout one’s career is a rare achievement indeed.
As an 18-year-old, Jordan Jovtchev competed in his first world championships in 1991. And at 39, he retired from competitive gymnastics after competing in the 2012 London Olympics, where he had the honor of carrying the Bulgarian flag in the Opening Ceremonies. London marked his sixth Olympic Games, and also his fifth consecutive appearance in the apparatus final for rings. And though he did not win a medal in London, he received a heartfelt response from the crowd after landing his dismount.
Born Feb. 24, 1973, in Plovdiv, Jovtchev was blessed with an ideal body for gymnastics. Strong and dynamic, he also had beautiful lines and exemplary technique, which added to the beauty of his routines. And while his four Olympic medals were on floor exercise (2) and rings (2), Jovtchev was the consummate all-around gymnast. He had no weak event.
After the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Jovtchev remained in the U.S. He continued to represent Bulgaria while training in Oklahoma and later Texas. He eventually moved back to Bulgaria to help teammate Krasimir Dunev rebuild the Bulgarian gymnastics program, which like many Eastern-bloc nations, had suffered after the Soviet Union dissolved. After serving as President of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation, he was appointed as Deputy Minister of Sport. At the time of his induction, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the European Gymnastics Union. Though Olympic gold eluded him, Jovtchev’s iconic status in the sport was etched indelibly over two decades of international competition. In 16 world championships, from 1991-2001, he won 13 medals, including four golds.
Jovtchev and his wife, Boriana, have one son, Jordan Jr., who was born in Norman, Oklahoma, in 2001.