Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Croatia Table Tennis Team Wins Bronze Medal at 2020 Tokyo Paralympics!

September 1, 2021 - The Croatia table tennis team of Anđela Mužinić and Helena Dretar Karić failed to qualify for the team competition final at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo after losing to South Korea 0-2 in the semifinal.

However, by entering the semifinal, they secured the bronze medal, their second Paralympic medal in their career after winning silver five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, reports HRT.

It is the second medal for Croatia in Tokyo after Velimir Šandor's silver in the discus throw.

The Tokyo semifinal was a replay of the Rio de Janeiro semifinal. But this time, Mi Gyu Lee and Jiyu Yoon celebrated 2-0.

Yoon and Lee first won doubles with 3-1 (11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7), and then Yoon beat Mužinić 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11- 4), so the match between Helena and Mi Gyu was not needed. In the second semifinal, China defeated Italy 2-1.

"This time, it didn't work; they were too strong," said Dretar Karić.

"However, we must be happy and proud of this bronze," added the 42-year-old from Varaždin.

South Korea opened the match by winning two sets, and after Croatia reduced it to 1-2, it seemed as if it'd be a replay of Rio when Croatia lost 0-2 and finally celebrated with 3-2. But this time, they weren't as lucky. 

"They have made a lot of progress, and today they were better. In the second set, we found great tactics, and we played well until the end of the match, but that was not enough. My individual match was not good. I lost security after losing to Yoon in singles. I couldn’t find a solution for her game."

In addition to two Paralympic medals, Mužinić and Dretar Karić also won silver (2017) and bronze (2014) at the world championships and four golds (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019) and bronze (2011) at the European team championships.

"We have been European champions for many years," said Anđela.

Next year, this Croatian duo will have a new text, the World Cup, and in three years, there will be a new Paralympic Games in Paris.

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Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Croatia Table Tennis Team Secures at Least Bronze at 2020 Paralympic Games!

August 31, 2021 - The Croatia table tennis team of Anđela Mužinić and Helena Dretar Karić have secured at least the bronze medal after advancing to the semifinals in Tokyo!

Croatia table tennis players Anđela Mužinić and Helena Dretar Karić won a spot in the semifinals of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo and thus secured at least the bronze medal in the team competition, reports HRT.

In the quarterfinals, Croatia beat Turkey 2-0 and thus secured the bronze at the Paralympic Games after winning silver in Rio de Janeiro five years ago. It will be the second medal for Croatia in Tokyo after Velimir Šandor's silver in the discus throw.

In the first match, Anđela and Helena beat Hatice Duman and Nergiz Altintas 3-1 (9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9) in the doubles, and then Mužinić beat Duman 3-0 (11). -7, 13-11, 13-11) so the third meeting was unnecessary.

"It's easier to breathe. After the defeat in the singles, we had to get up, and I think we managed. I felt great, I was full of security, but there was huge pressure when we came to the table. In the end, we managed to register a victory, and usually, a victory in pairs is crucial," said Dretar Karić, adding: "Now we can get into a real "fight."

"We were tight, they took the lead at 7-1, but we needed to remain calm. Unfortunately, we lost the first set, but we managed to come back," added Mužinić.

Croatia confirmed its spot in the semifinals in the second match, in which the 29-year-old table tennis player celebrated with a convincing 3-0.

"I played many times against Duman, once I was awarded world bronze. She was always my tough rival. Even today, it was difficult, and only now after the match, I feel relief."

Dretar Karić and Anđela Mužinić won silver in Rio, and it was the first Croatia team medal in the history of the Paralympic Games. A medal was also expected from them in Tokyo.

"Maybe that's why we were under pressure. However, we knew that this victory carries a medal, and I am sure that it won't be like that tomorrow," said Dretar Karić.

They will play against South Korea in the semifinal tomorrow, and it will be a replay from Rio when Croatia celebrated. Interestingly, Croatia won then and never again against South Korea.

"They were the favorites then, and I think they will be tomorrow as well, but we have nothing to lose," said the 42-year-old from Varaždin, while Mužinić added: "We promise to fight, and we will play without surrender."

In addition to silver in Rio, Mužinić and Dretar Karić also won silver (2017) and bronze (2014) at the World Championships and four golds (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019) and bronze (2011) at the European Team Championships.

Coach Mirela Šikoronja Ivančin emphasized that the most important thing was to "bring them back to life" after being eliminated in the individual competition, especially for Anđela, who had bigger goals than the quarterfinals.

"It was terribly difficult to play the match you have to win. We are defending the silver medal from Rio, we know we are good, but you have to confirm that," said Šikoronja Ivančin.

"I knew it would be a difficult match, there are no easy rivals here, but the girls responded well to the challenges, and both are in shape, and I am overjoyed that they secured a medal."

She pointed out that the biggest problem is that there have been no matches for more than a year.

"We haven't had a single official match for a year and a half, and then came the Paralympic Games, which in themselves bring pressure.

Korea is a team we only beat in Rio. But the girls are in a great position now, they have taken the pressure off their backs, and now they can bravely enter the match. They have quality, and I believe in them endlessly."

She also regrets that there are no spectators in the stands.

"This is a beautiful hall, and it is a real pity that there are no spectators because the stands would be full," concluded Šikoronja Ivančin.

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Friday, 1 February 2019

Bruno Bošnjak and Anđela Mužinić Named Croatia's Best Athletes with Disabilities

The snowboarding bronze medalist at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, Bruno Bošnjak, and the bronze medalist of the Table Tennis World Championships in Celje, Anđela Mužinić, was declared the best Croatian athletes with disabilities in 2018 in the selection of the Croatian Paralympic Board (HPO), reports HRT on January 31, 2019. 

Bošnjak entered history as an athlete who brought Croatia's first medal at the Winter Paralympics and is currently in Canada where he is expected to perform in the North American Cup and the World Cup in the Banked Slalom and Snowboard Cross.

In Slovenia, the young Split native reached her first medal in individual competition at the World Championships and a total of ten medals at major tournaments. At the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Mužinić won the silver with Helena Dretar Karić in pairs. They also won silver and bronze at the World Championships, and three gold and the bronze at the team European Championships, while Anđela also has two silver medals in individual competitions at the European Championships.

The winner of the award for the most successful coach in 2018 was Slobodan Glavčić, the swimming coach of Dino Sinovčić, who won the 100m gold medal at the European Championships in Dublin.

The award for the most successful team was awarded to the team of sports fishermen, Ivica Bonino Hasan, Mensur Rošić, Zeljko Kljaić, Nikola Geček and Zlatko Poparić, who won the gold medal at the World Championships in Međimurje.

The best athletes in non-Olympic sports are sports fishermen Nikola Geček and bowler Ruža Markešić. Geček won the gold at the World Championships in sports fishing in the individual and team competition, while Markešić won two gold and tee silver at the European Championships for the blind and visually impaired in Romania.

The most successful young athletes with disabilities are judoist Jelena Brešković, skier Lucija Smetiško and swimmer Luka Plemenčić.

Last year, HPO awarded the "Milka Milinković" prize in memory of our famous Paralympian as an acknowledgement for many years of work on the development of sports for people with disabilities. This year the award was given to Dubravka Ciliga, associate professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb.

The winner of the special award for 'Outstanding Contribution to Media Promotion for Sports of Disabled Persons' is a journalist of Croatian Radio - Radio Split, Ivona Jakić.

“The past year was exhilarating and full of great achievements on Croatian and international sports grounds. Our athletes made sure that almost no day in 2018 passed without a medal. Namely, they won 318, including 115 gold, 98 silver and 105 bronze. Guided by enthusiasm, passion, perseverance, and the love of sport, often in unmanageable working conditions, they once again managed to raise the bar - namely, for the first time in history, they won medals at the Winter Paralympics. This is how we placed ourselves as 18th in the world, in the company of 24 countries that won medals at the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games,” said President of the Croatian Paralympic Committee (HPO) Ratko Kovačić at a ceremony held at the Congress Hall of the Zagreb Fair.

The HPO President stressed that athletes with disabilities have a new challenge ahead. 

“The Paralympic Games in Tokyo are expected next year, and I am confident that with the same work and effort, will and courage, we will write some new pages of sports history. I will, therefore, conclude with the wise words that the American President Theodor Roosevelt said in the last century, and are still true today: “Believe you can and you're halfway there,” he stressed.

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