Meet the Young Leaders: Ivan Zlatev

Ivan Zlatev
European Athletics

As part of our ongoing series, we have interviewed members of the European Athletics Young Leaders Youth Team. They were all nominated by their federations to take part in the Young Leaders Forum in Amsterdam last summer and are all recognised as potential leaders of our sport in years to come.

The European Athletics Young Leaders Community is a platform for active young and ambitious people who are interested in developing work and life skills, getting involved in community service and making new friends. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am working as an iOS Project Manager in a software company. I was doing athletics for 13 years, competing mainly in the 400m and 400m hurdles until the doctors found an issue with my heart and I had to stop. Now I am focusing on organisational aspects in sports but it is more of a side project at the moment. My interests are computers, sports, cars and personal development.

How did you become involved with the European Athletics Young Leaders Community?

I got involved with the European Athletics Young Leaders Community back in 2014 during the SPAR European Cross Country Championship in Samokov. The idea was presented to me by Joana Dochevska and some people representing European Athletics during that event. This was my first contact with the Community. Since then, I am following most of the news from it, and updating them on some of the competitions I have taken part in either as a volunteer or as an organiser.

What is your favourite thing about athletics?

My favourite thing about athletics is how it teaches you to be strong and to always give one hundred percent in order to reach your goals.

Who is your athletics hero and why?

My athletics hero is Bulgarian sprinter Ivet Lalova-Collio because she has competed for so many years now and is still among the top athletes in the world. She even managed to do that after a very nasty trauma when she broke her leg.

Which areas of the sport are you particularly interested in?

In general, I love athletics, motor sports, winter sports, volleyball, and many others. The parts of athletics I am most interested in are the 400m hurdles and the organisational aspect.

If you could change one aspect of the sport, what would you change and why?

I would love it if I could make the sport an inseparable part of people's lives - not just when there is a special event, and make them familiar with the sport and what it is.

Where do you see yourself within the sport in ten years’ time?

I hope I will be in position to support the sport and to generate and develop more ideas for it in order to make it more popular, and to reach more people.

What has been your highlight of Young Leaders so far?

This is a tough one to be honest. I will try to answer this question in a couple of aspects. As a Young Leader, I am always trying to improve the organisational processes of the events I am part of, as well as trying to gather a better organising team for each event. My main focus is on improving the organisation in general and to promote athletics to people who are not involved in athletics at all. For example, I am usually looking for volunteers who are not just athletes, but even people who have nothing in common with sports before. In most cases, they then participate in some events and they even start doing athletics and sports. Other than that, I would love to make athletics more popular among kids and for it to be pretty much one of the main sports in schools and in the communities.

If I have to tell about my highlights specifically from the Young leaders Forum, I am glad to tell that it was probably one of the best experiences of my life and all the training is actually helping me even now in my job as a software project manager. That Forum helped me a lot to open my mind even more.

What do I want to do now? I want to be as helpful as I can, since I am doing everything on a really tight schedule. I would love to have the opportunity to help as much as I can, even though I cannot spent all my free time on that.