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Year in Review: Jordan Jovtchev proves age ain’t nothing

Dec 30, 2012, 5:29 PM EDT

2012-08-06T171051Z_1_CBRE8751BQA00_RTROPTP_3_SPORTS-US-OLY-GYMN-GAMRIN-JOVTCHEV_JPG_475x310_q85 Reuters

OlympicTalk’s writers recount some of their favorite moments from the 2012 London Games. 

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team was the overall youngest team competing in London this year and by almost all accounts, the most exciting. However, there were a few athletes on the floor who proved age is in fact, just a number.

Perhaps the most memorable of them was Jordan Jovtchev. At first glance of Jovtchev and his full head of grey hair he could easily be mistaken as the coach for team Bulgaria. Wrong. He’s a hardcore, superhuman, badass athlete who puts to shame believers of the mindset that most gymnasts careers can only last one Olympic cycle.

London marked Jovtchev’s record breaking sixth Olympics (again, sixth). The 39-year-old owns four Olympic medals and, in addition to being Bulgaria’s star gymnast, is also the president of the country’s gymnastics federation, conducting his business while on his cell phone… while training on the rings (file under: overachiever).

Yet the forecast for London was merely to be a farewell tour, with expectations incredibly low.

So low in fact that during the opening ceremonies a night almost all gymnasts choose to sit out because they have to compete the next day, Jovtchev chose to walk in the march of nations, with good reason, he was selected to carry the flag for Bulgaria.

The next day, during qualifications, Jovtchev stunned everyone when he qualified for the event finals on his signature apparatus: the still rings. What was supposed to be the last ever performance turned into an encore that had fans and media going wild. But Jovetchev can’t be bothered with such fuss. His response was more understated.

“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.” Awesome.

Jovtchev competed his set in the ring finals, and while a fifth Olympic medal was out of reach for the veteran, his final salute to the judges was met with one of the loudest ovations from the crowd. Oh wait, did I mention that he competed throughout the Games with a partially torn bicep and a fractured wrist?

Take notes, youngsters.

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