B. 1967-01-23, Ptichar, Bulgaria, went to Turkey in 1986
Weight-Lifting (3 gold)
He was born Naim Suleimanov in Bulgaria, one of the two-million strong Turkish
minority within Bulgarian borders. A Bulgarian policy of the 1980's tried
to assimilate these Turks, even changing their names. Thus Naim became Naum
Shalamanov. This was the last straw, he said. 'To take away your name is
to take away your character'. As Shalamanov, he became world record holder,
and at the 1986 World Championships in Melbourne, during the closing dinner,
he left the table and never came back. He flew to Ankara in the prime minister's
private jet and was given Turkish citizenship immediately, and another new
name, Suleymanoglu. Turkey paid Bulgaria more than $1 million in order for
them to waive the Olympic rule barring competitors for three years after
He would have been a favourite at Los Angeles, but for the Bulgarian boycott of the Los Angeles Games.
As Suleimanov, he won the "World Cup" three times (1984,'85,'86).
Also known as the 'Pocket Hercules', he is barely 1.52 m high.
His second and third gold medal can no more enhance his standing in Turkey than his first gold already did.
He failed in his attempt to win a fourth gold in Sydney.
Olympic Competitor nr 2978
Olympic Competitor nr 1820
Olympic Competitor nr 2913
Olympic Competitor nr 566
Written 2002-10-29 - last modified 2011-08-14
This page is part of the site "Full Olympians" by Herman De Wael. See here for a full Introduction.