The Award which took 25 Years11 December, 2017
The President of the Bulgarian Badminton Federation, Puzant Kassabian, has taken part in all 6 world championships, performing the functions of player, coach, manager and supporter, and was honoured in 2005 with a lifetime honorary diploma by the IBF for his record participation.
The first world championship of my career was in Malmo in 1977 and I was there even though Bulgaria was not able to become an affiliated IBF member in those days because of the regime we lived under.
My presence was thanks to Stellan Mohlin, then the IBF President, who sent my invitation to the President of the Bulgaria Sport Union and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, helping me get an international passport, something that was rarely possible in those days.
I went to Malmo to participate in a coaching seminar organised by the IBF and the Swedish Badminton Federation, but my story emerged from being correspondent of a Bulgarian newspaper, Sport, which enabled me to play in the world press championships taking place at the same time.
After two rounds, some other journalist competitors complained to the referee, asking who I was and what right did I have to play in the competition. At that point Hans Lenkert, a longtime president of the Swedish badminton federation and a Vice-President of Badminton Europe, became worried that he might be lynched.
I was forced to show my journalist's ID, but the card was written in Cyrillic and hard for everyone to understand. Fortunately we did find someone who could read in Cyrillic and after that all was well, and I went on to win the tournament in partnership with Leif Anderson from Eurovision TV.
Afterwards Stellan Mohlin pushed away a group of unhappy journalists, saying (that they should be ashamed to be beaten by someone from a country which they knew was making its very first infant steps in the badminton world. Despite that, all material awards for winning the tournament were taken away and we received nothing. Little did I think that one day the injustice would be put right. But on the 25th anniversary of that unhappy event, I returned to Malmo when the city hosted the European championships, and there Jan Ahrberg, the Secretary General of the Swedish Badminton Federation, presented a trophy to me for that success all those years ago. I was thankful.
A quarter of a century is a Iong time. And during those years, thankfully, I had the chance to make many good friends in badminton. Some of those friendships will last a lifetime.
-- International Badminton... The First 75 Years