Kamelia Dunavska: My spine was badly twisted – now it’s in a metal frame!

The coach of the National Rhythmic Gymnastics Ensemble (girls) Kamelia Dunavska was born on April 21, 1969 in the city of Sofia. Together with her twin sister Adriana Dunavska, she is among Bulgaria’s golden girls. In 1987, Kamelia became the world champion with the ensemble of the championship in Varna, and in 1988 she was the European champion in Helsinki. He has already 26 years of experience as a coach. She worked in CSKA and Levski, in Neshka Robeva’s team, in 2009-2012 she led the national teams of Greece, and then took over the girls’ ensemble of Bulgaria. At the last Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing 2014, her graduates won a silver medal and were recognized by sports journalists as Bulgaria’s team of the year in the youth and girls rankings. Especially for “Doctor” Kamelia Dunavska shared how she takes care of her health and the physical shape of her gymnasts.

– Mrs. Dunavska, which medicine are you a fan of – the official or the folk medicine?

– On the official one. I think it’s more efficient. I prefer medication and if necessary – surgery. This solves the problem. I am very determined in this regard. I’m not one to try alternative methods.

– Are your children named after Saints Constantine and Helena?

– Elena appeared first and she is named after my mother-in-law. Then the name Constantine came quite spontaneously. I decided there must be some connection between my children’s names.

– Did you give birth easily?

– Both births were by section because of the back surgery.

– Are there any scars left?

– I’m covered in scars – on my back, on my stomach. They are long, but not terrible. The doctors did a very good job.

– What are your impressions of Bulgarian healthcare?

– I have no bad impressions of our health care. I ran into him a few years ago. My son had a urological problem and he had to be urgently admitted to “Pirogov”.

The pediatric urology team was very good

I fell in love with Dr. Andreev as soon as I entered the office. I behave very adequately, very delicately. I felt that my child was in safe hands and I calmed down. Everyone was very quick to respond and courteous. They spared me negative emotions. I don’t know if it’s because they recognized me or because that’s their practice, but I can’t complain. Only the hospital environment is unpleasant, but it is the same in all hospitals.

– Do you have any trauma left from your sports career?

– Yes, I have. My spine is in a metal frame. But I don’t know if it’s from gymnastics. There are so many children with spinal curvatures. I think sports saved me to some extent. I was 14-15 years old when I got very severe scoliosis one summer. I twisted violently. Maybe I grew up too fast then. I started with exercises, with complexes to strengthen the muscles of the back. But it didn’t help. I gave up gymnastics and was operated on in France – at the Kahlo Institute, a whole medical town on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

That was a long time ago – 1988. I had already visited all the orthopedic offices in Gorna Banya district. One of the doctors contacted the French clinic and Dr. Chopin operated on me there.

– What was the operation?

– My spine had quite serious deviations from normal. The operation lasted four and a half hours. They stretched my spine to free up the intervertebral space and set it in a metal frame. From both sides

i have long irons bolted on

bottom, middle and top. They fix the spine and prevent it from twisting.

– Did everything go well?

– Dr. Chopin said I’m doing great. So far so good. I still have those rather long metal bands – 20-30 cm each. The good thing is that I will be a grandmother who will not slouch. (b.a. laughs).

– After the operation, could you continue with rhythmic gymnastics?

– No, I still have some limitation of movements. For normal movement, everything is fine, but rhythmic gymnastics cannot be played. I can’t have the flexibility needed for our sport.

– Are the metal detectors at airports screeching when you walk through them?

– At first they screamed. Not now. I have no explanation. Almost five years ago I had an x-ray and the braces were in place.

– Since you and Adriana are twins, did your sister get scoliosis?

– No. Adriana had other problems – she suffered a number of fractures. I explain it to myself by the fact that we were more gracile in structure, and perhaps we lacked enough calcium.

– You haven’t gained a kilo over your competition weight. What caused this?

– Apparently it’s genetic, I don’t take any credit for it. I don’t follow a diet. I eat everything, and in good quantities.

– Back in the day, you gymnasts were on a hunger strike. Are you keeping your female graduates hungry now?

– As a competitor, I have not been on a diet, I have not sat hungry for the simple reason that I did not bid. My girls and I talk about nutrition all the time now for no other reason than because they are eating things that aren’t healthy. Otherwise, they are small and have no weight problems. I tell them that they should eat in normal quantities and of everything in order to get vitamins, calcium, and proteins… that it is good to eat sweets before training, not before going to bed, because carbohydrates are burned by physical activity load and give energy. I don’t want them to starve, but to have a healthy way of eating.

– What do you forbid them as harmful?

– All snacks, chips, waffles, croissants. Of course, they are children and cannot deprive themselves of everything, but this should not be their main food. I have tried

to ban them from sodas

They don’t need things without useful substances in them. If they have to drink anything, it’s freshly squeezed sodas.

– Do the current gymnasts get injured more often?

– I can not decide. Most injuries occur during puberty and are related to growth. My team is generally healthy, but I work hard for that too. We do a lot of exercises for good general physical fitness, we also do specific exercises for individual muscle groups. So the girls become strong and able to withstand the heavy loads, because our gymnastics has become very difficult. Accidents happen occasionally due to carelessness, but they are rare. It must also be responded to promptly when something hurts them. Even a minor problem should not be ignored, but treated. And their combinations are very difficult. If our ensemble has any claim to a prize place, it must show something new, difficult and spectacular. The road to high results is not easy.

We have a lot of work ahead of us this year because the girls have turned 15 and are moving into the women’s category. So we are the second team after our world champions and this year we have to undergo a new development. We change the appliances. This season will be played with five bands in one composition, and in the other – three pairs of clubs and two hoops. The important thing is that the ensemble moves forward and develops.

Mara KALCHEVA

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