Another payday for golden girl Kostova

Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:00pm EDT
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By Brian Oliver

FORDE, Norway (Reuters) - Bulgarian-born Boyanka Kostova won a gold medal for Azerbaijan at the European championships in Norway on Tuesday and is set to reap the financial rewards offered by her adopted nation.

Kostova, 22, won her third European gold when she retained her women’s 58kg title, after comfortably beating her nearest rival, Irina Lepsa, of Romania. Poland’s Joanna Lochowska was third.

"My training and preparation for this championships went well and I was pleased today,” said Kostova, who was named female athlete of the year by the International Weightlifting Federation after the world championships in November.

“If all goes well, and I am in my best form at the Olympics, maybe I will try for another world record.”

Kostova said she did not know how big her state-funded reward would be, but Azerbaijan often pays huge sums to medalists at major competitions. Two wrestlers who won gold at London 2012 were paid $510,000 each.

Azerbaijan offers fast-track nationalization to athletes in a range of sports, among them Russian gymnasts, American and Canadian ice skaters and the Bulgarian weightlifters.

After Kostova won gold at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games for her native Bulgaria, at the age of 17, she was offered the chance to switch allegiance to Azerbaijan, along with another top teenager, Valentin Hristov.

The Azerbaijanis paid $550,000 to the Bulgarian federation.   Continued...

Boyanka Kostova of Azerbaijan competes in the women's 53kg weightlifting competition during the World Weightlifting Championships at Disney Village in Marne-la-Vallee outside Paris November 6, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier