If 2021 was the dusk, then ’22 has welcomed in the definitive sundown of Ivo Angelov’s career.
After placing third at the Bulgarian championships last week in Veliko Tarnovo, 37-year-old Angelov removed his wrestling shoes and placed them on the mat to signify his retirement. In his farewell match, Angelov defeated Miroslav Emilov via technical fall, 15-6.
A World bronze medalist in ’11 before winning it all two years later, Angelov was a brutish competitor whose technical skill was underscored by standout conditioning. A pace-pusher regardless of the time format or rule-set, he was keen to disrupt his opposition’s timing by remaining committed to forceful tactics. It was also a common occurrence to witness Angelov energetically bounce or run in place between periods or after restarts, much to the consternation of opposing corners.
What fans will remember most is ’13. That year, Angelov twice vanquished Russia’s Ivan Kuylakov, with both victories coming in the finals of major events. Their initial meeting that season provided the Bulgarian with his first, and eventually only, European Championships title. Six months hence, the pair squared off with World gold on the line. Down 2-1 late in the second period, Angelov capitalized from par terre top to turn Kuylakov for what became the match-winning points. The duo faced off once more the next year in the Pytlasinski final, which was also won by Angelov.
The Olympic qualifying process of ’16 brought with it disappointment. Angelov — who had placed 8th at the ’15 World Championships in Las Vegas — was unable to secure 59 kilograms on behalf of Bulgaria in both spring qualifying tournaments, finishing 5th and 16th, respectively. It had appeared that, perhaps, Angelov’s career was beginning to flounder; however, he managed to place second at the ’17 European Championships (where he lost to Fris for the first time in five meetings) — which instantly positioned him as a medal candidate entering that year’s Worlds until an upset loss to Egyptian Mahmoud Mahmoud in the opening round.
Last season, and with Edmond Nazaryan waiting in tow, Angelov was once again tasked with qualifying his weight category for the Olympics; but, as was the case in ’16, he came up short in two tries (the second of which in his home country). The qualifying tournament in Bulgaria represented his final appearance in an international competition. Shortly after, Angelov said, “I think it’s time to stop. I am now at an age where my body does not listen to me the way I want it to and should stop. With Edmond Nazaryan, I see my worthy successor. I will do my best to help him grow and achieve a lot of success.”
“For me, each passing day is longer, let alone a year, but I am at peace knowing I tried. My most valuable thing is when I became a World Champion. This is the biggest title I have in my career, but I have enjoyed every medal, even when I was second.”
More words were said a week ago. On the heels of his bronze-medal match against Emilov, Angelov told the Bulgarian Wrestling Federation, “This was my last event. On the one hand, I wanted to end my career successfully, and also to help my club. There is no sadness. There are other challenges ahead. My only regret is that I failed to win an Olympic medal.”
Ivo Angelov Career Highlights
2013 World Champion
2011 World bronze
2013 European Championships gold
3X European Championships silver
2X European Championships bronze
6X Nikola Petrov Memorial gold
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