Lyubomir Ganev

ganev3The greatest legend of the Bulgarian volleyball and one of the most successful volleyball players in the country and abroad, Lyubomir Ganev was acclaimed five times Champion of Bulgaria, played for teams in Italy and in Greece and is known for his powerful serve. During the years following his sports career, he turned to business and became one of the controversial entrepreneurs in the country.

Lyubomir Ganev is born in Rousse in 1965. He graduates from the Sports School in the city and starts his sports career with the local volleyball team called Dunav Rousse. Later, he joins the CSKA team and plays there for seven years. During this time, he has been acclaimed five times Champion of Bulgaria.

During the 1985 – 1998 period he is part of the Bulgarian national volleyball team for men and in 1986 he wins the bronze medal at the World Championship in France. Being 210 cm tall and mastering a service of 130 km/h speed, he is then invited to play for some of the Italian clubs including the Alpitur. While playing for Alpitur, he gets the nickname Lupo. In 1998 he quits his sports career.

ganev_trimataHe starts to deal with business while he is still in Italy. He becomes the face of the Asics brand of sports wear and later becomes their representative for Bulgaria. However, he is not successful in managing the enterprise and the Bulgarian representative office goes bankrupt. Then he starts to trade with extra-sized clothes and creates the XXL brand and manages a number of shops where he sells them. He establishes the Remix company and in 2004 becomes the representative of Italian companies specializing in the use of methane for automotive fuel. In 2010, he claims that 36 out of all 66 CNG stations in Bulgaria are delivered and supported by his company. That same year he starts to import equipment that runs on methane and is a representative of 15 Italian companies for the Balkan Peninsula. Since the end of 2012, he is again the representative for Bulgaria of Asics and provides the national tennis and athletics teams with sportswear.

ganev1He is Board Member of the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation. It is said that when in 2012 he is elected Vice President of the Volleyball Federation, he lobbied for a contract for sports equipment with Asics, which became the reason for the Federation to terminate the existing contract at the time with another company. Several years later, media write about another scandal caused because of an alleged fraud in real estate in Plovdiv conducted by the company that is owned by the parents of his girlfriend at that time.


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Veselin Topalov

topalov1It is highly unlikely that there is a single person in Bulgaria who is unaware of the fact that Bulgaria contributed to the global development of chess by submitting one of the World Chess Champions.

Veselin Topalov is the 2005-2006 Bulgarian Grandmaster Chess Champion and the 2010-2012 World Vice-Champion. He is born in 1975 in Rousse. His father introduces him to the intellectual magic of chess when the boy is merely 8. At 12 he becomes the Master of Sports and the Junior World Champion for players up to the age of 14, which adorned him with yet another acknowledgement—the one of the International Master of Sports. Among the great many recognitions and awards that come next, are Vice-Champion for adolescents up to the age of 16, Balkan Junior Champion, World Chess Federation (FIDE) Grandmaster, National Champion for Men and a multitude of other prizes from international, regional, and world chess tournaments. topalov2

His World Championship prize follows soon. At the age of 30, on 16 October 2005, Veselin Topalov becomes the World Chess Champion, and his game is rated with an ELO coefficient of 2890 at an average 2739 for the whole championship. For his exceptional achievement, he is awarded the Chess Oscar for 2005.

In 2006 he ranks the World Chart of chess players who have ever reached an ELO coefficient above 2800. His ELO sublime achievement is said to be 2816, which he reaches in 2015. topalov3It shoots him in the Chart of the Eternal Chess World Rankings among the only eight players, who have ever scored an ELO coefficient above 2800 and his name is listed next to the names of the other chess legends – Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Magnus Carlsen.

Read more about Veselin Toplaov on Wikipedia.

Watch a chess play between GM Ben Finegold and GM Veselin Topalov from 2015, as well as an interview with our Grandmaster after his victory in Norway during the same year.

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Danube Rock Climibing Competition


I must admit I didn’t know such an event existed—not before a colleague of mine, a sworn climber and sportive all-muscle nerd, mentioned it to me. In a nutshell, the event takes up one day in October and for a consecutive year was held near Rousse, at the Basarbovo village rocks. Local participants and foreigners taking part in the competition gather together to prove their physical and mental endurance before the eyes of fans mad aboalpiniada-3ut climbing.

The event is organized by the Hristo Popov alpine climbing club. It turns out that Rousse is the forefather of rock climbing and abseiling done with the help of artificial pillars. The beginning was set in 1910 when a local youth sports organization, led by the German Helmut Brocks, climb the steep rocks over the Rousse Lom River only by means of a rope in their enthusiasm to become mountaineers.

Brief information on the 2015 edition of the climbing competitions you can find here.

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THE Women’s Basketball Team

Author’s note: despite its unprecedented sports achievements, at the end of 2017 the women’s basketball team in Rousse was disbanded. We decided to leave the article, however, because we experienced genuine joy and took sincere pride in the successful sports performance of the girls, also because we want their sporting merits to be remembered, and because, of course, we hope that some day again Rousse will again have such an outstanding team of ladies.


It is my incredible pleasure is to introduce you to the women’s basketaball team of Rousse known by its full name of Dunav 8806 Rousse, or simply Dunav Rousse. Dunav is a most common name for anything in the city as it is the transliteration from Bulgarian of the river Rousse is situated on – the Danube. The numbers come from the telephone number of its biggest sponsor, which, being a taxi company, holds the premium 4 digits that decorate the girl’s outfits.

A former basketballer myself for 7 years at elementary school and for yet another year at my high school team, I truly admire these ladies for their discipline and dedication must have been consistent and unceasing to lead the team to the first place in the National Championship in 2014 and make it the winner of the Cup of Bulgaria in 2013 – both for a fourth consecutive time. Some of the girls stayed with the team long before its fame became a characteristic going hand in hand with its name.

Get yourself acquainted with what’s next on the team’s Facebook page.

Visit their official website where you can follow the latest news, statistics, and everything related to the team and their sports club.

Image courtesy of Stanislav Stefanov at

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Arena Monbat (Arena Rousse, Bulstrad Arena)

Author’s note: in 2018 Bulstrad Arena was renamed to Arena Monbat, also known as Arena Rousse. The links and text below were respectively updated on 14.01.2019.

Among the greatest and recent accomplishments for Rousse is the newly-built fully-functionaning, though not completely finished, Bulstrad Arena sports venue with a capacity to accommodate more than 8,000 people in live concerts. Its opening was announced at the end of July, 2015 (remember that concert I told you about? Lili Ivanova – rings a bell?) and has already hosted Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, Scottish hard-rock band Nazareth, Bosnian world-famous film-music composer Goran Bregovitch, as well as Dunav Ruse women’s basketball tournaments. (Author’s note: despite their unprecedented achievements, the women’s basketball team in Rousse was disbanded at the end of 2017.)


It took the local authorities nigh four decades to complete the sports hall, the construction works having been suspended on various occasions and innumerable reasons, among which some of national importance such as the fall of the Communist regime in 1989. The dead site of construction, cuddled behind a hedge of metal plates, has been a regular sight for what it seemed ages and an alternating symbol of malfunctioning communication between national and regional authorities, lack of investments, change of building intentions, and economic stagnation. For years to come, people would briskly shrug at the question if anyone knew what was going to become of these bare, as if wasted in the limbo of the passing time, hundreds of square metres. Now that the end result was even officially acknowledged in July by the presense of the Prime Minister, I must confess I am happy to see almost all of it said and done and that all efforts on behalf of the local institutions and patience on behalf of the citizens have been worth it.

The official page of the Arena features all scheduled events that are going to take place in it.


As an aside, they host the all-cultural events program for the month on their website too. (Author’s note: which is no lonegr true – their website included that information when the hall was under the Bulstrad Arena management.) If you are still wondering what to see this December, check it out – the program is quite interesting and intended to add to the Christmas holiday spirit. So, my dear fellas, take your child to the Regional Library, your partner to a Christmas concert in Kaneff Centre, or your Granny to the Opera (she does not hear well anyway!) and simply enjoy yourselves!

Here is some additional information on the Arena from Wikipedia.

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