Tuesday, 20 July 2021

5-7 Olympic Medals Expected for Croatia in Tokyo, Says Siniša Krajač

July 20, 2021 - Croatian Olympic Committee Secretary-General Siniša Krajač revealed the main challenges that the COC and he personally will face in his current term as the first operative of the umbrella sports association and what we can expect from Croatia in Tokyo this summer. 

In an interview with Sportske Novosti, Siniša Krajač revealed to editor-in-chief Robert Šola that demography is a burning national problem and a potentially big problem for the future of Croatian sport because "the base from which we draw sports talents is getting smaller." In this context, he also mentioned the importance of constant investment in sports, especially in sports at the local level, "where it all starts," that is - where future top athletes come to us to a large extent. He spoke with a lot of passion about team sports and pointed out that Croatia is a sports nation with great achievements in individual sports.

The Olympic Games (July 23 - August 8) are an indispensable topic when Croatian athletes are heading to Tokyo every day. With a strong desire for all our representatives to stay healthy during the Games, the Secretary-General estimated the number of Olympic medals in Tokyo, which ranges from five to seven medals. Siniša Krajač is very optimistic about Tokyo, although a slightly smaller number of athletes will represent Croatia.

"We are going for 5 to 7 medals: Alarms are set in sports, but the situation is not tragic, in a small base of the sports active population we have no right to drop a single talented child," writes Robert Šola, editor-in-chief of SN.

Most of the Croatian athletes are already in Tokyo, and the rest will follow them very soon. 

"A positive case on a plane can mean goodbye to an athlete and everything they have worked and prepared for years to be at the peak of their career in Tokyo. But, unfortunately, that cannot be changed; Japan has their own approach to everything that has to do with COVID," says Siniša Krajač, who has acted as Secretary-General Secretary of the Croatian Olympic Committee for two months now.

Croatia will have the smallest number of athletes at the Games since Barcelona. Should we be worried?

"As I emphasized in my first interviews after I became Secretary-General, we need to worry about the fact that our sport is in decline and that there is a real danger that this decline will take a more vertical direction than we have today. Not because we are not doing well, or because we do not care about sports, but also because we have an obvious shortage of coaches and young people who play sports. We must all be aware that only about 400,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 19 live in the country at the moment. It is a minimal base, and we have to draw future Olympic winners, medalists, and participants. In such a small base, we have almost no right to drop a single talented child, which means that we must provide our children with optimal conditions for playing sports. Of course, as a state, we must work on the demographics of society because the trend is by no means good."

Unfortunately, Croatia has dealt with demography issues for years, but taking care of sports is not even close to good. Only 59 athletes at the Games also bring a lot of concern?

"The handball players were a second or two away from the Games; if they were in Tokyo, the numbers would already be similar to those in Rio. And we will agree that handball players have a place at the Games. I am also sorry for the basketball players; we constantly hope that basketball will rise and return to where it belongs. But I am aware of the problems we have in sports; I would say that the alarm is already burning and that there is no tragedy. And this number of athletes in Tokyo is respectable and has a high quality."

How can the COC help address such issues?

"We are specific in ourselves because we have an extensive range of activities. Top sport, local sport and recreation, are our three core activities. Athletes, however, are created at the local level, it is clear to everyone in the sport. And we, as the COC, have long been aware of this. I would say that the state is aware of that as well. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has increased allocations for local sports. Both the state and the COC encourage local communities to invest more in sports; we are working on that synergy without which there can be no results. We work to the maximum to bring back to local communities sports that were specific in their environment, in which they had top results. Times are changing, but this tradition in local communities is still strong, and I am convinced that a lot can be done and returned to the old, and even for the better."

Siniša Krajač talked about team sports with a lot of passion, but also turned to individual sports.

"I would by no means put individual sports in second; we have risen strongly in them, laid a healthy foundation, they bring us medals, but also children who enjoy doing these sports. Judo has a great run, karate, and taekwondo too, and there are plenty more good examples."

Unfortunately, some claim that investing in sports is a waste of money?

"Investing in sports cannot be a waste of money; it can only be a great investment. Sport certainly contributes far more to society and the common good than we invest in it. This can be proven through many parameters. We are evidently falling for several health issues. We have an excessive percentage of obese and inactive children, which is probably the most dangerous and saddest thing for any nation and its health. We don’t have enough physical activities in schools; some don’t even have gyms. And it’s something that can’t be resolved overnight, but it has to start to be addressed. And that systematically. Let's invest in sports because there is no greater investment in health. We as a state must understand that. Sport also brings numerous economic privileges. With the matches come athletes, spectators, foreign clubs come to the preparations ... Not to repeat that athletes are our greatest ambassadors in the world, and we know they are."

How many medals are expected at the Games?

"Five to seven. I wouldn’t want to name what those medals are; I don’t want to pressure anyone. In Tokyo, the conditions for athletes will be truly extraordinary, far different from those they are used to. Such conditions will require quick adaptation, and our athletes are such that they do their best in the most difficult moments, to surprise when it is least expected. We have a talent for adaptation, I would say perhaps the best in the world because we are such a nation. After all, we are masters of improvisation. Our athletes know what awaits them. The Americans waited at the airport for six hours upon arrival to be released. On the other hand, ours did not sleep for 40 hours, except for a little on the plane. And when you land, there are problems, waiting, testing, uncertainty, completed or unfilled applications." 

And at the end of it all, no fans?
"Sport is also played for the sake of spectators, but health should be a priority at this moment. The games always have a special atmosphere in the village, in the host city, in the indescribable atmosphere that reigns in the halls and stadiums. Unfortunately, now that is not the case ... But the Games will be held; sports will not be surrendered."

You can read the full interview HERE

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Wednesday, 7 July 2021

8,000 million HRK Allocated for Croatian Promotion through International Sports Events, Croatian Athletes

July 7, 2021 - HRK 8 million has been allocated for Croatian promotion through international sports events and Croatian athletes. 

Members of the Croatian National Tourist Board at the 79th online session adopted a Decision on selecting partners and approving funds for marketing cooperation with organizers of international sports events and top Croatian athletes in 2021. HRK 8 million gross has been approved for the implementation of mentioned collaborations with selected partners. The session was chaired by the Minister of Tourism and Sports and the President of the Croatian Tourist Board Nikolina Brnjac in the presence of the Croatian Tourist Board director Kristjan Staničić, reports HRTurizam

As director Staničić pointed out, out of the total of 8 million, the amount of 4.3 million was approved for cooperation with top Croatian athletes and national sports federations, while 3.7 million was approved for marketing cooperation with organizers of international sports events.

"In addition to maintaining a high level of security, which in these circumstances is a basic prerequisite for the realization of tourist traffic, a very important part in creating content in destinations is having quality and attractive events. To this end, funds will be allocated for marketing cooperation with organizers of sports events that bring a large number of competitors and audiences to Croatia, as well as Croatian athletes and sports federations whose successes and performances around the world significantly contribute to the promotion and visibility of Croatia as a tourist country," said director Staničić.

Thus, in the category of athletes and sports federations, cooperation was approved with the Croatia water polo team, volleyball team, judo team, brothers Martin and Valent Sinković, brothers Šime and Mihovil Fantela, Sandra Perković, Tonči Stipanović, Dino Levačić, and others, while in the category of organizers of international sports events, the cooperation was approved for ATP Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag, CRO Race, Pannonian Challenge, WACT Zagreb 2021, Hanžeković Memorial, and Ivan Ivančić Memorial.

“With this Decision, we approved 18 collaborations in the category of organizers of sports events and 12 in the category of top athletes and sports federations. By providing support to sports events, athletes, and sports federations, we emphasize their value for the promotion of the Republic of Croatia. Apart from the sporting significance, all these events contribute to the quality and diversity of the tourist offer, while the successes of our athletes are an additional invitation to come to our country. I call on all event organizers to take maximum responsibility and respect for epidemiological measures because a good epidemiological situation is a key to the further interest of guests and the success of the tourist season," said Minister Brnjac.

Members of the council also adopted the decision to extend applications in the category of TOP events of the Call for expressions of interest for marketing cooperation with the organizers of TOP events in 2021, which will be open from July 7 to 21, 2021.

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Thursday, 8 April 2021

Croatia at Olympic Games: Only 40 Croatian Athletes Qualified for Tokyo So Far

April 8, 2021 - Only 40 Croatian athletes qualified for Tokyo so far. A look at Croatia at the Olympic Games this summer.

Gol.hr reports that there are only three months left until the start of the Olympic Games in Japan. From July 23 to August 8, Tokyo will be the world’s sports center and host today’s best athletes in various sports.

Croatia participated in its first Games back in 1992 and participated in seven Olympic competitions, winning 33 medals total - 11 gold medals, 10 silver medals, and 12 bronze.

According to the number of qualified athletes, it is clear that Croatian sport is in crisis. To date, a total of only 40 Croatian athletes have qualified for Tokyo. 10-15 more are expected from individual sports (boxing, wrestling, karate, judo, tennis, cycling). The basketball team, which plays its qualifiers in June, faces a challenging task because they may play without their biggest stars - Bogdanović, Šarić, and Zubac.

In the best-case scenario, Croatia can see 65 athletes in Japan, which is the lowest number in the last 30 years. Croatia only had less in Barcelona in 1992 (41 athletes in 12 sports). Given the war period, this figure is not surprising. 

Croatia at the Olympic Games

Barcelona 1992 - 41 athletes - 12 sports (three medals)
Atlanta 1996 - 85 athletes - 14 sports (two medals)
Sydney 2000 - 91 athletes - 12 sports (two medals)
Athens 2004 - 81 athletes - 14 sports (five medals)
Beijing 2008 - 101 athletes - 15 sports (five medals)
London 2012 - 107 athletes - 18 sports (six medals)
Rio de Janeiro 2016 - 88 athletes - 18 sports (ten medals)

Tokyo 2021 - In the best case scenario, 65 athletes, and how many medals?
Croatian athletes will not be expected to break the record from Rio and the ten medals won that summer.

Favorites for medals?
The shortlist of favorites for medals at this year's Games includes Sandra Perković, Sinković brothers, Tin Srbić, Croatia water polo, Tonči Stipanović, Šime, and Mihovil Fantela, Josip Glasnović, Damir Martin, and Mektić-Pavić (tennis players are not yet on the list of qualified athletes).

Croatian athletes qualified for Tokyo:
ATHLETICS (Sandra Perković, Sara Kolak, Filip Mihaljević, Bojana Bjeljac, Matea Parlov Koštro)
GYMNASTICS (Tin Srbić, Ana Đerek)
WRESTLING (Božo Starčević)
SAILING (Tonči Stipanović, Šime and Mihovil Fantela, Elena Vorobeva)
KAYAK / CANOE (Matija Marinić)
SWIMMING (Franko Grgić, Marin Mogić)
TABLE TENNIS (Tomislav Pucar, Andrej Gacina, Frane Tomislav Kojic)
SHOOTING (Josip Glasnović, Snježana Pejčić, Petar Gorša, Miran Maričić)
TAEKWONDO (Kristina Tomic, Matea Jelic, Toni Kanaet)
WATER POLO - 12 athletes
ROWING (Damir Martin, Valent, and Martin Sinković)

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Friday, 24 April 2020

Croatian Athletes, Teams Return to Training Under Special Conditions

April 24, 2020 - Croatian athletes of the first two individual categories and the senior teams competing in the highest rank can start training again from Monday, April 27.

24 Sata writes that Croatian athletes and clubs have finally received the go-ahead from the Croatian Government that their sporting activities can begin again.

Croatian athletes of the first two individual categories and senior teams competing in the highest rank can start training again from April 27, concluded Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic after the session of the Croatian Government on Thursday.

Thus, on Monday, the top football teams in the country could start preparations for the season to continue. As the first calendar option failed, two more calendar options remain. One is to start the championship on May 30, while the other is to continue the championship on June 13.

Croatian champion Dinamo welcomed the news, though little is known about the club's plan for training. It is only certain that there will be some activities on Monday (April 27) at Maksimir. The club is still awaiting a letter of all measures (or its publication on the official site), so the players and new staff will act in accordance with these provisions.

The situation will involve discussions with doctors and epidemiologists, as Dinamo does not know whether they will train in smaller or larger groups and maybe work individually. 

New coach Igor Jovicevic will start his adventure on the Dinamo bench in odd conditions, and the schedule and manner of training will depend on the instructions of the Government, doctors, and epidemiologists. In any case, everything will be much clearer by Monday.

On the other hand, Hajduk has been in good shape for a week already. The first-team players have been individually training at Poljud, each in their own term, with tasks assigned to them by the fitness trainers. As the situation with the virus stabilized, Hajduk was granted permission to train with multiple players in one group. So, as of Friday, Hajduk will train in a group of four players with coach Igor Tudor.

The four-member groups will alternate throughout the day at Poljud, but still with all the measures prescribed by the Civil Protection Headquarters. Players will always train in the same groups. The whole team could train together only once the coronavirus is fully under control.

Rijeka has been training at Rujevica for several days. The training is organized in several groups, followed from the stands by trainer Simon Rozman who returned from Slovenia several days ago and has to quarantine. The club, therefore, provided him and his assistant with accommodation in President Mišković's office.

This news has undoubtedly pleased Croatian athletes, including the Sinkovic brothers and the best Croatian gymnast Tin Srbic. Martin and Valent had been rowing on the ergometer on their balconies for more than five weeks, awaiting permission to train. While the citizens of Zagreb were walking around Jarun in peace, the Civil Protection Headquarters did not allow the Sinkovic brothers to train. 

"We'll switch to Jarun now. I can't wait to get in the boat. We haven't rowed for five weeks, so we'll have to get a feel for the pairs," said Martin Sinkovic, and Valent added:

"It feels like I haven't rowed for a year. I’m waiting for Monday to get into a normal training rhythm. A few days ago, we received the news that we would have the European Championship, and now we will be able to prepare."

Gymnast Tin Srbic has been improvising and maintaining form for weeks, but from Monday, he can finally go back to his favorite place - the gym! 

"I am glad that the decision was made and that we will be able to train normally. To me, the gym is everything, so I hope there will be new competitions at the end of the year to represent your country," Srbic told RTL.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Friday, 20 March 2020

Croatian Athletes in Corona Crisis: Olympics on Schedule, Nowhere to Train

March 20, 2020 - With each passing day, Croatian athletes are one step closer to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, though the coronavirus crisis isn’t doing them any favors.

After it was announced that the Tokyo Olympics would remain on schedule for July 24 to August 9, madness ensued for athletes who had yet to qualify for the Games, reports Gol.hr.

Many qualifying tournaments have been canceled, and the situation is even worse because they have been banned from practicing at their fields, pools, and gyms. 

There is no doubt that swimmers are particularly affected by these bans.

"We have the most problems with training, since all facilities are closed,” said Croatia swim team coach Lovrenco Franicevic.

For now, the games have been secured by the Split stars Franko Grgić and Marin Mogić. But many Croatian athletes are in trouble.

“With this Decision I can’t train, but there can be a solution. It is not many of us that need to be able to train, only around a hundred people," said President of the Croatian Athletic Association Ivan Vestic.

On the other hand, instructions were issued to close sports fields, sports halls, and gyms. Croatian athletics have four representatives so far, and several that are very close to qualifying. 

The Croatian Karate Federation celebrates 50 years. Ivan Kvesic sent them the best congratulations by qualifying for the Olympic Games. Karate will make its debut at the Summer Olympics in 2020, which resulted in earlier qualifications. 

Concerning basketball, Croatia is hunting for a spot at the Games, which they’ll need to win at a qualifying tournament to be held in Split at the end of June.

"I don't know, I think it's going to be difficult to play in that qualifying term because we don't know what the NBA is going to say. Because if the NBA league is going to play the full format after the break, then we're going to be without NBA players," said the Croatian Basketball Federation president Stojko Vranković.

The Croatia basketball team will only go to the Games if they win this tournament, which the government has allocated over 20 million kuna for so far. 

"The money that the Croatian government paid, if the tournament does not take place, we have to get back. So that we are not in a situation where the tournament is canceled on May 15 or June 1 and we have already paid 80, 90 percent of the funds," concludes Vranković.

The following days are uncertain for Croatian Olympians and those who dream of becoming one. Given the current circumstances, we can hardly expect much.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Croatian Athletes and Staff Talk About Unexpected Time at Home

March 15, 2020 - There are already several Croatian athletes and sports professionals who, due to various contacts, have been forced to spend two weeks at home because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Croatian sailors Sime and Mihovil Fantela arrived back in Zadar from Palma de Mallorca where the Princess Sofia Trophy was to be held. The World Champion sailors are safe, but self-isolating. 

Sime told HRT more:

“I must be with my wife and kid for two weeks at home. We will be careful; we will be careful not to go outside and simply wait for the news ahead. It is a little difficult, we are preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, which is our most important goal, and now we are practically without training for 15 days. It's not easy, but we will try to be patient and simply respond to the current situation.” You can see the video on HRT here.

The coronavirus also calmed down tennis for six weeks. Marin Cilic, like most of his colleagues, will enjoy an atypical March at home with family, reports Gol.hr.

"We are aware of the situation and it is certainly better to beware than to take the possible risks so here - now I have more time at home. It was the perfect time for me to be with my family, enjoy and have a little more time to rest, and hang out."

A month and a half ago, Cilic welcomed his first child, Baldo.

“I will definitely be more awake overnight, which will make Kristina’s life much easier.“

However, family rewards are the reason why the world's 37th best tennis player in the world takes the prevention of coronavirus as seriously as possible.

"Of course I'm afraid most of all because of Baldo, because he's still very small. I am even avoiding going to the gym, where there are bigger gatherings, and maybe I'll even do more outdoor workouts."

A few days ago, Cilic met with the Sinkovic brothers on Jarun Lake for an outdoor training session. He said he is in contact with other Croatian athletes, too.

"I heard from the NBA guys; they told me that this is unique and everything is under alarm. They do not know what is going to happen, or if they will return home or stay there, so we are still on the edge of our seats, waiting for what will develop, but most importantly, we are all healthy and this is under control. "

But Cilic does not doubt that the world of sports will certainly feel the consequences.

"Who knows what the Olympics will be like, but luckily for tennis, the positive is that our season is so long, it lasts until the end of November. The problem is that the points will be affected, with other tournaments being canceled - but these are less of a concern."

Several prominent HNS members, including President Davor Suker and coach Zlatko Dalic, are also in self-isolation, reports T.portal.

They all attended the UEFA Congress and the Nations League draw in  Amsterdam on March 2, which included the president of the Serbian Football Association Slavisa Kokeza, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The Croatian delegation was not in close contact with Kokeza, but out of precaution, they are in self-isolation, and so far, no one is showing any symptoms.

“They were in the same place he was 12 days ago. We checked, none of them had close contact with him, if any. However, because of the precautionary measures and because they are responsible people, they are behaving responsibly in this situation, so we agreed to reduce contacts for 14 days, that is, if you want to call it that, they will be in self-isolation,” Croatian Football Federation doctor Zoran Bahtijarevic told RTL.

“Of everyone who was there, no one has symptoms. The likelihood of being infected is extremely low, but it is not good enough for us. We act responsibly and, as a last resort, send everyone a message to act responsibly,” said Bahtijarević.

Although the initial information was that Kokeza contracted the coronavirus in Amsterdam at the UEFA Congress, he had contracted it in Milan.

“Slavisa Kokeza is holding up well, feeling good. Everything happened in Milan, there are a lot of viruses from that city,” said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at a press conference.

After the anticipated Doha friendly tournament was canceled due to the global pandemic, where Croatia was to play against Switzerland and Portugal, the Federation’s leadership and coach Dalic agreed that there would be no national team meeting this month. HNS informed the clubs of all the invited national team about this decision.

The decision was made keeping in mind the current situation in Croatia and Europe, that is, the global pandemic of the new coronavirus, to protect the health of the national team.

"It is the position of the Federation and the professional staff, headed by coach Dalic, that it is safest for national team members to stay in the cities where they reside, in quarantines or under other measures in force in certain countries," HNS said.

“Something that has never happened in the history of sports has happened. We need to be concerned about the health of athletes, fans and all other actors in football, but also in sports in general. This is an emergency that no one could have foreseen, but we have to deal with it. We have approached this problem with maximum responsibility, and it is not easy. This is a disaster for sports and the economy, but all human lives must come first,” Suker said in an interview, noting that his stance on Tuesday's UEFA video conference would be that the EURO does not take place this year.

"In any case, we will know more after Tuesday, human lives are paramount," Suker concluded.

The European Football Federation (UEFA) announced a major video conference next Tuesday with the leaderships of all 55 Member States and representatives of ECA, FIFPro and European leagues to discuss further steps European football will take in the context of a pandemic the coronavirus, with regard to both domestic and European club competitions, as well as EURO 2020.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Over 90 Croatian Athletes Expected to Compete in Tokyo Olympics

February 25, 2020 - In exactly five months, the 32nd Olympic Games will begin in Tokyo. Croatian athletes will try to surpass the record-breaking Rio Games in 2016, when they won an incredible ten medals, five of which were gold, three silver, and two bronze. There are 110 Croatian athletes in the Tokyo Olympic Program. 

Gol.hr reports that the fantastic pictures from four years ago, featuring Sandra Perkovic, the Sinkovic brothers, Josip Glasnovic, Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic, as well as the sensational Sara Kolak, have not yet faded. But soon, new Olympic thrills await us. We believe there will be new medals, too.

For the first time since 2008, the Croatia table tennis team will compete in the Olympic Games.

"I would just like to avoid China, everyone else we can handle,” wished Andrej Gacina.

"We are preparing in our heads to try to surprise everyone," Neven Karkovic said.

The Croatia handball team has yet to qualify for Tokyo and will fight to win a spot at the strong qualifying tournament in France. In addition to the hosts, Croatia will play against Portugal and Tunisia. The two best teams will go to Japan.

The Croatia water polo team will also fight for a spot at the Games in the Netherlands. Their opponents will be Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, Argentina, and an Asian representative. The top four teams from each group will play in the quarterfinals. The winners will go to the semifinals, and the three top-ranked teams will qualify for Tokyo.

The Croatia basketball team needs to qualify, too and will play a qualifying tournament in Split against Brazil and Tunisia. If Croatia tops the group, they will play either Germany, Russia or Mexico. The top two teams go to the semifinals, with only the winner of the tournament going to Tokyo.

"I believe they will qualify, and we count on having between 90 and 105 Croatian athletes in Tokyo," said Zlatko Matesa, president of the Croatian Olympic Committee.

For the first time in her career, Kristina Tomic will compete in taekwondo, a sport that has already brought Croatia three Olympic medals.

"I will only say that my goal is no longer to go there as a tourist but to do something there," Kristina said confidently.

Form will play a significant role, and shot-putter Filip Mihaljević wants only one thing - to be healthy for Tokyo.

"I'm slowly joining the best in the world and hoping to make it to the finals."

Unfortunately, T.portal reported on Tuesday that the Olympic dream has ended for Robert Seligman, who will not be able to compete in the remaining two Olympic qualifying tournaments in Baku and Doha, as X-rays show he has broken his middle finger.

Seligman injured his hand on Saturday while practicing in the Melbourne World Cup final. Doctors in Australia immediately positioned and bandaged the dislocated finger, but the footage upon returning to Croatia confirmed the worst news. Robert Seligman has completed his Tokyo Olympic dream.

"We hoped it was just strained, but my finger is broken. Unfortunately, my dream of Tokyo is over. I have to rest for three weeks, which means I will miss the next two qualifying tournaments. But, I will train everything that does not interfere with my hand and stay in shape so that I can be fully prepared by May for the World Cup in Varna and, most importantly, the European Championship in Baku,” Seligman explained.

In Rio, Croatian athletes won a record ten medals. It is a feat that will be difficult to achieve, though our sports heroes have repeatedly shown that they are not afraid of the challenge.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Nine Croatian Athletes Already Qualified for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Just over a year remains until the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, and most Croatian athletes are just beginning their Olympic qualifiers. However, some of these concerns have already been resolved, as nine Croatian athletes have already secured their visa for Tokyo. The last among them is the current Olympic champion in trap shooting - Josip Glasnović, reports Gol.hr on April 10, 2019. 

In the embrace of his close family and friends and with a surprise tamburitza band, Josip Glasnović celebrated his gold medal at the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates back in Zagreb. 

"The qualifiers were excellent - 125 of 125, I broke or equaled the world record, where only 12 people in the world have done this, and I'm happy and honored that I won the gold," said the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist in trap shooting. 

But this isn’t important just because Glasnović won yet another flashy medal, but because Croatia’s current Olympic champion has qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

"That's really what it is about, as the Olympic Games are the Olympic Games. I again have the chance to defend the gold medal, and even though it's hard to qualify in our sport, here I am and that’s it,” said Josip Glasnović.

Glasnović has thus become the ninth member of the Croatian Olympic team in Tokyo. So far, the 2020 Olympic Games will feature Croatian athletes in air rifle shooting - Snježana Pejčić, Petar Gorša, and Miran Maričić, followed by sailor Tonči Stipanović in the Laser class and the Fantela brothers in the 49er class, and Split's young swimming sensations Franko Grgić and Marin Mogić.

Additionally, Croatia’s U21 football team could qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time if they make it to the semi-final at the upcoming U21 Euro Championship.

"I think this is a great motive for all players, I believe they are aware of that, and it would certainly mean a lot to me as a coach as well," said the U21 Croatia national team coach Nenad Gračan.

And if our young football team receives a visa for Tokyo, Gračan can invite three players to the Olympic tournament without an age restriction. Rakitić and Perišić have reportedly already shown interest. 

"Well, they expressed their wishes. Maybe Luka Modrić, too!” said Gračan. 

In the last two Games, Croatia has crushed its record for the number of Olympic medals won. In London 2012, Croatian athletes won six medals, and four years later in Rio, they nearly doubled their harvest with as many as ten. Let’s hope the trend continues in Tokyo.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Luka Modrić to No Longer be Highest-Paid Croatian Athlete?

It looks like Luka Modrić could soon lose his title as the highest-paid Croatian athlete.

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