Bianka Panova is a Guinness record holder for becoming the first rhythmic gymnast, who won all possible gold medals with a maximum score of 10 points at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Varna, Bulgaria in 1987.
After her big success, she became the Head and National Coach of Rhythmic Gymnastics Clubs in Italy, Belgium, Spain, England, and all around Europe. She prepared gymnasts from different age groups and various categories for national and international competitions. Moreover, she has trained many of the finest athletes of Belgium, including National Champion Elke De Backer, who is also teaching daily ballet classes of different levels. Bianka also worked as an Instructor of Stretching and Conditional Coach for Royal Ballet of Flanders, Belgium.
We had an interesting chat with her about the significant contributions she has made to the European gymnastic and dancing world. Read on…
How is Rhythmic Gymnastics different from regular gymnastic?
Rhythmic Gymnastics (RG) is named the most beautiful Olympic discipline and can be named as the academy of all sports because it masters skills which could be used for life and for many other sports. RG combine flexibility, expressiveness, dance steps, classic and modern ballet, manipulate with 5 different apparatus like Rope, Ball, Hope, Clubs or Ribbon. It helps developing variety of skills instead of focusing on one technique or body knowledge.
Tell us about your achievements and memories of practising and participating in the multiple world cups at the age of 15.
I started competing for the national team of Bulgaria at the age of 14. I can speak a lot about gymnastics – the passion and the fears I had, how I forgot my routines at competitions, or caught the apparatus by the sheer grace of God, right after the glare of the spotlight almost blinded me. I wrote a book about my life journey as a gymnast which is currently being translated into English. It was not an easy journey but I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for everything that has happened to me.
My achievement includes: Absolute World and European Champion with 9 Gold World Medals, 5 Gold European Medals, and 2 Gold Medals from World Cup.
What inspired you at such a young age?
I was inspired by the beauty and uniqueness of the motion and the unlimited ways of humans to express themselves. My Mom saw and felt my passion. I have tried several sport disciplines like Artistic Gymnastics, Ballet, and Acrobatics but it seemed that I belonged to the RG gym. After about a year of trying out different clubs, my mom finally settled on a club where I started RG lessons 2 times a week – I was 8 years old at that time.
How has gymnastics and gymnastics coaching changed since the 80’s?
The evolution of life today is also applicable into sport. Good teachers have a scientific approach that preserves not only the physics but also the psyche of children to ensure smooth development and secure progress, without traumas and collateral effects. If you read my book you will understand how different it used to be in my times…
Tell us about the Guinness Book of World record and your experience of ‘Dancing with the stars’.
I am a Guinness record holder for becoming the first rhythmic gymnast, who won all possible gold medals (5) with a maximum score of 10 points at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Varna, Bulgaria in 1987. It was very surprising for me – I was 17 years old and didn’t really understand what it means that time. However, it showed me that hard work and self-belief can bring unlimited success.
In 2008 I was invited as a guest-star to “Dancing with the Stars” in Bulgaria and in 2009 as a participant where I became winner with the highest vote of the public. It was very exciting to learn dancing on that level and I am great full for that opportunity because I love dancing.
When did you start BPSAA and what inspired you most to get into teaching and coaching?
In our Academy we believe that how we shape the young age– will stay for life. It is not just about the Sports. Qualities such as diligence, devotion, respect, loyalty, friendships, and gratitude are very important and we try to educate the young gymnasts through the training process.
The Academy was established in November 2015. The founder and my business partner Ms. Daniela Michaely was searching for a world class coach to teach in Singapore. We didn’t know each other before but once we met it felt like a destiny. I was also deeply interested to explore the Asian culture and work with people here since my work experience was mainly across European countries.
Which countries typically dominate the sport? How does Singapore compare to them in terms of infrastructure, focus among Singaporeans for the sport, opportunities available?
East European countries like Bulgaria, Russia, and Belarus dominating the first places in RG. But those days also a Korean gymnast is among the top 10.There is huge potential in Singapore – very talented girls who need the right mentor to fulfil their dreams. That means that there is a place and chance for Singaporean RG to infiltrate to the world Rhythmic Scene. It will take years probably, but it is worth it.
Who should try gymnastics and why? (Speaking to parents in regards to their kids)
The Academy is open to all children who show interest in learning and developing their body and mind.
The gym classes are very diverse and range from beginners to competitive levels. From Stretching, Conditioning, Coordination with the apparatus like Hoops, Balls, Ribbons to Classical Ballet and Modern Dance and Rhythm & Musicality.
Tell us about the courses you offer and the age group you offer them for? (All the courses at BPSAA)
We offer 3 main classes with different levels and spectrum of body skills (From age 4 on wards):
- Recreational Group – suitable for beginners to develop basic muscles and other body skills. Classes are available from Monday to Thursday, 3:30 pm – 6:00 pm (45 mins per session, minimum once a week).
- Advanced Group – suitable for children with 1 year experience in Gymnastics/Ballet to develop advanced motion qualities and basic apparatus techniques. Classes are available on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, between 5 pm – 7 pm, and Saturday, Sunday between 10 am -2 pm. (2 hours per session, minimum twice a week).
- Elite Group – a competitive group that participates in worldwide Rhythmic Gymnastics events with the opportunity to win medals and certificates from various international competitions. Classes are available on Monday to Sunday, 2:30 pm – 9:00 pm (4 hours per session, min 3 times a week).
Words of inspiration for new and upcoming gymnasts.
“Dreaming big, Transforming life, Creating beauty” – We believe that big dreams can become true with the right mindset and hard work.We encourage all our students to dream big and to believe in themselves.
Bianka Panova Sport and Art Academy was founded to provide the highest level of satisfaction to you and your child, cater to your children’s needs and enable them to succeed in their endeavours. Find their classes on the Minor Inc. App for exciting deals and discounts!
Know more about the benefits of Rhythmic Gymnastics by clicking here.