Retiring after his record sixth Olympic appearance, Bulgarian legend Jordan Jovtchev told IG he is grateful for the legions of gymnastics fans that supported him during his incredible career.
"They are awesome," he told IG on Friday.
Jovtchev, 39, officially announced his retirement on Aug. 24 when receiving the "Silver Falcon" award from the Bulgarian press.
"It is time to say enough is enough," Jovtchev told the media. "I could go on, but I see no point."
Jovtchev salutes the audience after his final performance during the still rings final in London.
The Bulgarian star made his Olympic debut at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Like Oksana Chusovitina, who represented the Unified Team in Barcelona, Jovtchev competed in a record six Olympic Games: Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
From 1995-2007, Jovtchev won 13 world medals (four golds, five silver, four bronzes) and four Olympic medals (one silver and three bronzes). He was at his peak at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where he finished a still-controversial second on rings behind Greece's own Dimosthenis Tambakos.
Jovtchev's final performance was his seventh-place finish in the still rings final at the Olympic Games that concluded last month in London. He was one of the most celebrated gymnasts in London, where his achievements were not lost on the crowd.
"I am happy because I feel that my efforts were appreciated," he said. "I didn't win a medal, but I feel great. My motivation was the people and their support. It's not a burden but a moral obligation to do well for the fans."
Following his finals performance in London, an overjoyed Jovtchev initially hinted he may try for a seventh Olympic appearance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. But the gymnast, who is suffering from several muscle and bone injuries in his arm, said he does not want to be competing just for the sake of competing.
"There is nothing more to chase," he said. "I don't even think about training anymore. I think it makes no sense to continue. I can, but it's unlikely. It would be ridiculous to compete at the age of 50."
For the past several years, Jovtchev also has served as president of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation and is trying to revive the sport. He is planning a farewell gala in February featuring several of his star gymnastics friends, including 2000 Olympic champion Alexei Nemov (Russia), and young talent in Bulgaria.
Jovtchev, who is, said he plans to help national coach Krasimir Dunev with rebuilding the national team.
"We have a plan for the Bulgarian gymnastics," he said. "My mission is to work. I will help Krasi [with our goal], which is very ambitious. Hopefully my desire does not evaporate quickly. I'm convinced that we will have gymnasts going to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in four years. I'll be satisfied and happy if I can contribute to the development of young people."
Read about Jovtchev and Chusovitina's record Olympic appearances in the September 2012 Olympic Games special issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe or order copies, click here.