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  • Caitlin Shipsides

Legendary Bulgarian team set to develop next generation of Aerobic Gymnasts

Updated: Dec 31

What does the word ‘inspiration’ mean to you? For many of our aerobic family worldwide, the answer is simple; the Bulgarian Aerobic Gymnastics Team. Known for their impactful choreography and emotive storytelling, the recent retirement of Ana-Maria Stoilova, Antonio Papazov, Darina Pashova and Tihomir Barotev captured our hearts as we watched them perform on the stage one last time.

Fortunately, their involvement in Aerobic Gymnastics is not ending anytime soon. Following in the footsteps of Marian Kolev, Desislava Bogusheva, Nik Hadzhiev and Siyana Bozhilova these ex-gymnasts are imparting their knowledge by creating choreography and coaching upcoming gymnasts around the world. Melogym has been fortunate to follow their journeys and hear about their future goals in the sport.


Saudi Arabia is exploring aerobic gymnastics for the first time thanks to Ana-Maria Stoilova, who has relocated to train the Saudi Arabian team in both artistic and aerobic gymnastics. “I have founded the first aerobic gymnastics classes in the country, but I’m still involved in the training process of Bulgaria because the kids there are extremely gifted and I will be forever following their paths in aerobics. In the very near future they will outreach our success and write history. I will be happy if soon Saudi Arabia can be part of the aerobics world and see their team on the big stage,” said Stoilova.


Darina Pashova wants to continue her involvement in aerobic gymnastics, choreographing and coaching both in Bulgaria and abroad, having recently worked at a training camp in Great Britain.

Pashova stated, “I will be happy to work with everyone all over the world that I’ve inspired or motivated throughout the years because there is nothing better than passing on your experience, and a person who has gone through all those moments as a competitor is the best helper.” Pashova studies computer science and technologies at university and hopes to utilise these skills in the future to optimise training processes for both athletes and coaches.


Tihomir Barotev accompanied Pashova in Great Britain, where they choreographed senior trio routines and had the opportunity to work with gymnasts from various clubs. Barotev also travelled to Lithuania three times to help continue the development of aerobic gymnastics, two of these trips being for the ‘AeroCamp4You’ last summer. “I’m coaching kids in Plovdiv where I also study. I’ve always loved working with kids and passing on my knowledge and skills. My favourite part of it is observing the progress firsthand. I hope this sport continues to grow and attract bigger interest towards it. The best I can do is to prepare gymnasts in the best way possible and create interesting routines that even people who aren’t connected to our sport appreciate and enjoy,” he said.


Antonio Papazov is heavily involved in developing the next generation of aerobic gymnasts, working in countries including Spain, Italy, Finland and Great Britain.

Thank you to our wonderful Bulgarian team for helping develop aerobic gymnastics around the world. We look forward to what the future will bring.

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