Ivan Popov was born on 21st of June 1933. In 1962 he married an athlete. It is interesting to know that all members of his immediate family have been Bulgarian Champions at one point or the other. His wife, Zvetanka was a rifle shooter and Bulgarian Champion in 1959. His son, Hristo was a Junior Modern Pentathlon Champion in 1981; Balkan Fencing Champion in epee this same year; and Bulgarian epee Champion for Men. His daughter, Lily was a Junior Fencing Champion in floret.
In 1951 Mr. Popov was accepted as a student at the National Sports Academy, where he continued his sports career, becoming Student Champion in a series of disciplines such as swimming and track 1500m, 3000m and 5000m with obstacles.
Being already an established swimmer and a runner, Mr. Popov, became interested in Modern Pentathlon, which he perceived as more challenging and therefore more intriguing.
In 1953, the university formed a group of enthusiasts who were drawn to the little known at the time in Bulgaria sport, Modern Pentathlon. Besides swimming and running these students began to practice Shooting and Fencing. Soon after the formation of the group, Mr. Popov became its leader. In 1954 the group started riding classes and since, Mr. Popov has uninterruptedly been involved with Modern Pentathlon, either as an athlete or an official, on local and/or international level.
In 1959 and 1961 Mr. Popov was Bulgarian Champion in Modern Pentathlon for Men and ranked among the best Bulgarian fencers during this time, winning twice the National Champion title in epee. For over 10 years, Mr. Popov remained among the top three fencers in Bulgaria, in addition to which he successfully competed in a number of international competitions.
Mr. Popov graduated from the National Sports Academy with honors in 1955 and became a coach of the “Academic” student team. When lead by Mr. Popov the "Academic" team was the best in Bulgaria and won the National Championship for a number of years.
In 1957 Mr. Popov won a Research Fellowship at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and remained there until 1975, when he became an Associate Professor at the National Sports Academy, where later he earned the title Professor.
As a competitor Mr. Popov joined the management of the Bulgarian Modern Pentathlon, and in 1968 he became the Deputy Chairman of the Bulgarian Federation of Modern Pentathlon. Three years later Mr. Popov was elected as the President of the Bulgarian Modern Pentathlon Federation.
Recognizing the importance of international exposure, for the growth of Modern Pentathlon in Bulgaria, Mr. Popov hosted the first major international Modern Pentathlon competition in Bulgaria in 1972, in Varna. Since, this competition has become a valuable tradition in the Modern Pentathlon history.
In 1976, during Congress of the UIPM in Montreal, Mr. Popov was elected as a Member of the Technical Committee. Since then, Mr. Popov has been continually re-elected as a Committee Member and in 1988 in Seoul, he was elected as a Committee Secretary. He held said position, as of 2012, when he chose not to resubmit his application, which ended his activities as a TC Secretary and his participation in the management body of the UIPM.
In the late 70s and early 80s the issue of limiting the number of participants in the Olympics and World Championships became pressing. This issue was driven mainly by the following reasons:
1. It was difficult to provide well-trained horses to the ever growing number of participants.
2. The length of the fencing competition exceeded 10 - 12 hours.
This is why Congress decided to decrease the number of the participants to 66 (72). However, it was not clear as to how to achieve that. The task was given to Mr. Popov. He came up with the idea that a Qualification Lists generated based on pentathlon points gathered by each competitor during international competitions would be fair criteria. So he started the preparation of QLs on monthly bases for Men, Women, Juniors, etc.
To further enhance the quality of the QL and in an attempt to eliminate errors, in 1989, during a TC meeting in Bad Orb, Mr. Popov proposed the implementation of a unique code number assigned and to each competitor. The proposal was accepted and the task of its implementation was once again assigned Mr. Popov. Since, Mr. Popov has been developing monthly QLs for Men, Women, Junior Men, Junior Women and Youth "A" Boys and Girls, and Youth "B" Boys and Girls, which over the years add up to over 2000 QLs.
Additionally, in the early 90s together with Jan Novotny, Mr. Popov actively supported the concept of conducting World Cup Championships and was responsible for the preparation of all World Cup Standing Lists.
During the period of 1990 to 1995, Mr. Popov annually issued a Modern Pentathlon manual, also known as the "Yellow Book". The goal was to clarify information sent by the UIPM to the National Federations. As it stands today, everyone who has to do anything with Modern Pentathlon is well familiar with the "Yellow Book" and has relied on it at one point or the other.
As the years past, the Business Affairs Committee suggested the issue of PWR (Ranking list). The difference between the two lists is that the QL is prepared on the basis of pentathlon points, while the PWR is prepared based on the ranking.
Both lists co-existed for several years. Mr. Popov was charged with the task of their preparation, comparison and analysis in order to determine which one provides a more objective and fair information about the pentathletes. Following intense disputes in search of the truth, and pursuant to the endorsement of the Business Affairs Committee, more specifically - John Helmick in 2002, the Ranking List was introduced as an official document of the UIPM.
As Modern Pentathlon evolved, it was decided that each competitor in an international competition should be identified via a License, a practice already widely popular among other sports. Once again, Mr. Popov was commissioned to implement the new project. From 2005 to 2007, Mr. Popov did a tremendous job by issuing 1,200 licenses. The job entailed making photographs of each international competitor, men, women, juniors, collecting personal data, entering personal data, taking it to print, issuing the actual license and distributing the actual license. The task was successfully accomplished and later assigned to HQ.
In addition, while serving the UIPM Technical Committee, Mr. Popov was also involved in the following:
- Taking an active part in the discussion re: the Competition Rules, their editing and implementation.
- Purchase of TC uniforms at feasible prices i.e. he found a suitable companies, was involved in fabric and model selection, collection of sizes, and distribution to TC Members.
- Developing the TC emblem.
- Developing the International Judge emblem.
- Organized and conducted over 20 World and European Championships for various age and gender groups in Bulgaria (see attachment 2)
- Performed the function of a TD over 100 times.
- Held lectures and organized courses and seminars in more than 10 countries - GRE; BRA; RSA; TUR; RUS; KAZ, CHN, AUS, EGY and others.
- Participated as an examiner for International Judges exams in more than 12 countries.
The European Confederation of Modern Pentathlon in 2004 pay tribute to Prof. Ivan Popov for your unselfish contribution to the national and international development of the sport Modern Pentathlon and to the promotion of friendship among peoples. These Diploma was sighed by UIPM President Klaus Schormann and ECMP President Attila Csaszari
The voluminous and versatile work of Prof. Popov as related to Modern Pentathlon speaks for itself. It is no coincident that over 60 years he remained a Doyen of the Bulgarian Modern Pentathlon, 36 of which he was also a key part of the UIPM.