Philip Milanov at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
Discus thrower Philip Milanov emerged as a formidable force in his event last year, taking the silver medal at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 and gold at the World University Games.
We chat to the rising Belgian star about some of his first memories which he holds dear.
I tried a bit of everything as a child. I played tennis, did karate, skateboarding; many sports which gave me a good feeling for rotation and balance.
But I always liked athletics as a way to challenge my limits, so I later put my full focus on athletics. I would try to reach each level until I was finally ready for the next challenge. Another factor in me wanting to throw the discus was that my father was also a professional discus thrower. (Philip’s father, Emil, competed for Bulgaria at the 1977 European Junior Championships).
My father has always been my coach, but not only in a sporting sense; he has also been my mental coach, too. He is very emotional and pushes me to new limits. As a teenager, he gave me a good foundation for my technique, a good attitude in training, mixed with good ambition.
My first international experience happened in Izmir in Turkey at the 2011 European Team Championships. It was a great experience to be competing against some top-class throwers. My PB was only 56 metres at the time and I threw 54.88m for ninth. I remember the temperature was very hot, about 40C, and we had a view of the sea from the stadium.
First international medal
My first international medal came when winning gold at the World University Games in Gwangju last year, when I threw a best of 64.15m. Yet, for me, the highlight of my career came one month later when I won the silver medal in Beijing. To throw a Belgian record of 66.90m and produce the best Belgian performance in Beijing was an emotional and rewarding moment for me and my father.
First athletics disappointment
I made a big breakthrough in 2014, twice throwing a Belgian record to qualify for the European Championships in Zurich. Going into the championships with a best of 66.02m, I had high expectations of a good performance. However, I only threw a best of 59.85m and failed to make the final. This was a big disappointment, but I used it as motivation to perform better in the 2015 season.
I don't own my own car yet. We (the family) have two cars. As a big discus thrower (Milanov is 1.91m tall and 118kg) I need a lot of space for sports equipment and for my legs, so I use the family car. I have driven for five years now. I don't like to break the rules when I drive so I am a very careful driver.
My first and favourite pet was a little black dwarf rabbit. Her name was ‘Gorgona’ and she lived for 12 years. I grew up with her.
Steve Landells for the IAAF