Dechko Ovcharov has two world and two European titles in discus and javelin, plus six more gold medals from World Cup tournaments for people with disabilities. He participated in three Paralympic Games - in Athens' 2004 (two 9th places and one 8th), Beijing' 2008 and London' 2012. Since 2005, he has won a medal at every competition except the Paralympics, because there they merge in one group of athletes with different handicap coefficients. At the last World Games, Ovcharov took first place in discus, third places in shot put and javelin, and he returned from the world championship in Qatar with a bronze medal in discus and a personal achievement. Dechko Ovcharov lives in Pavel Banya with his wife and two sons Danail (3.5 years old) and Stefan (5.5 years old)
Boy how did you get your physical disability?
- In 1988 I was seriously injured in a car accident, I was only 8 years old. My left leg was shattered into pieces and had to be amputated above the knee. The accident happened on the ring road near Kazanlak and I was taken to the Kazanlak hospital. I've been wearing a prosthesis ever since. The other day I had an operation there. I had a problem with the same leg where it connects to the prosthesis. It was caused by the load, by the constant blows of the flesh with the prosthesis. It had to be cut. I suffered from this disability for a long time, but it could not be removed until now in order to participate in important competitions. After such an operation, I don't have to wear the prosthesis for a month until the place heals. But now the moment allows, my training is more strength - lifting barbells than throws. On Monday I entered the hospital, on Tuesday I was operated on and on Wednesday I was discharged. There is a very good doctor in the Kazanlak hospital whom I trust - Dr. Raev.
I guess it was quite painful?
- They put an anesthetic in my spine. Five hours of surgery - felt like paresis, very bad, even though I couldn't feel my legs.
How did you adjust to life with this disability?
- It might
made me stronger in character
Because life in Bulgaria is difficult not only for people with disabilities, but even more so for them. But adversity teaches.
How long have you been doing sports?
- Professional since 2002 when I started javelin. The head of our sports federation, Iliya Lalov, found me at a swimming pool in Pavel Banya. He saw that I had the physique and desire to compete. Borislava Gureva was my first coach until 2012, and then I started to study at the National Sports Academy and transferred to Prof. Stefan Stoykov - head of the Department of Athletics. I train in many places where there are conditions - I do camps in Sofia, in Pavel Banya, in Kazanlak, in Madan. At the moment I have been focusing on the shot put training because they removed the discus from the Rio 2016 Paralympic program. By the summer I have to prepare and cover a participation quota. However, for me it is important to win medals, not just to participate.
Is there a way to change the prosthesis to make it more comfortable?
- Unfortunately, comfortable dentures are very expensive. The best are made in Germany. They work miracles there. Someday a real leg may be grafted.
How much do nice dentures cost?
- Around BGN 50,000 – 100,000. The sums are terribly high for our standard, and it is not possible for me to spend that much money on a nice prosthesis that allows normal walking. But in Germany the social policy is such that people with disabilities are given prostheses. I wear a modular prosthesis, but if I compare it to a modern prosthesis, it's like comparing a Trabant to a Mercedes.
But to compete, don't you need something special?
- For the discus throw - not so much, but for the javelin - yes, because I have to run for the boost.
I learned to walk
overall ok with the dentures i have. If I don't have any pain, I walk normally with the prosthesis. I can also run, although it is not the same running as a he althy person.
Does a doctor come with you to the races?
- Only at the Paralympics in Athens did we have a doctor. I haven't seen a massage therapist or a doctor since. There is no money for them. And in the other teams there are all kinds of specialists and people who help the athletes. Apparently in other countries the policy towards people with disabilities is completely different.
What do you do when one of you gets sick at a race?
- We are our doctors. We carry medicine with us and take it when necessary. At the World Cup in India, I had a kidney crisis. We traveled there for a very long time and suddenly the hellish pains started. Around midnight I was taken to the emergency room. It turned out to be a stone in one kidney. They put me on systems, gave me injections. They prescribed me some pills, I was like drugged, dizzy. Everything stopped hurting from them, but these pills crush you and you don't feel whole. However, I managed the competition and became a double world champion – both javelin and discus.
When he returned to Bulgaria, how did the kidney treatment continue?
- I carried this stone for three years. I went to the hospital several times to break it, I tried everything and it still doesn't want to go away. On the way back from the World Cup in New Zealand, I got very sick during the flight. I got home and then the rock came out.
Are you otherwise he althy?
- Like everyone, I get sick sometimes. But the fewer pills I take, the better I feel. That's why I drive for tea. More or less, sport heals the human body. I have noticed that
I get sick more when I don't exercise
That's why I think sport is he alth.
Are you watching your weight?
- I'm a heavy thrower - the bigger I am, the better my achievements. Of course, I shouldn't overeat. I maintain between 90 and 100 kg. I don't follow a diet. I eat sweets, I love my meat.
Your colleague Stella Eneva drinks organic vitamins and minerals. And do you add supplements to the food?
- Yes, when I am in intensive training, I drink amino acids, proteins. They are necessary for active sportsmen, because food cannot supply them in sufficient quantities, and because our body consumes many useful substances. If you don't put fuel in, the car won't go. So it is with people.
Do your sons play sports?
- They are still small, their bone system is not yet fully developed. That's why I don't plan to chase them from a young age. Besides, I won't make them do something against their will, only if they are interested. But my older son wants to come with me to practice. He likes sports. I will be by his side and support him as much as I can.