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.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Friday, 14 May 2021

Croatian Diver Budimir Šobat Featured in Guinness World Records for Longest-Ever Breath Hold!

May 14, 2021 - Croatian diver Budimir Šobat surpassed his record for the longest time breath held voluntarily by 22 seconds, and this time, it was not just for his beloved daughter Saša - but for the people of the earthquake-distraught city of Sisak as well. Guinness World Records even featured Budimir for his feat earlier this week. 

A new world record for static apnea free-diving has been set in a pool in Sisak, Croatia, on the 27th of March, 2021. Ranked as one of the best divers in the world, according to the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA), Budimir Šobat, better known as Buda, held his breath for a total time of 24 minutes and 33 seconds superseding his last successful attempt 3 years ago by an impressive 22 seconds.

 

Featured in the Guinness World Record published by Connie Suggitt on May 12, 2021, the celebrated Croatian diver proudly declared that the inspiration behind this feat was once again his daughter - who has been battling cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism throughout her life. When asked how he overcame the difficulties and dangers that come along with attempting a record like this, Buda answered: "The greatest motivation of all is my 21-year-old daughter, Saša, who has autism. My results are giving me the media space, and then I can speak about autism awareness". And even though the earthquake damage made it "almost impossible" for him to train during the beginning of this year, the 56-year-old diver persevered through his rigorous training and managed to perfect his breathing technique just a few weeks after resuming - making the impossible, possible.

He also mentioned that focusing on his heartbeat was the key to win in this mental sport - as how he views static apnea diving to be. After hyperventilating himself with pure oxygen for 30 minutes (the maximum amount of time allowed as per guidelines to ventilate before an attempt), he managed to stay underwater for 22 seconds more than the record he had set 3 years ago. "While I am doing my maximum static apnea, I have my eyes closed and all I am focused on is to try to hear my heartbeat. Once I heard it I became calm and ready to fight the time.", he revealed.

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Nikola Cutuk / PIXSELL

What makes this man even more remarkable is that he creates a platform through these events to raise awareness for people with disabilities. Last February 24, 2018, Buda dove as part of the "I'm Not Breathing" campaign in Zagreb which supported the autism centre his daughter goes to, and where he also successfully obtained the Guinness World Record for longest breath held voluntarily (male division) with a record of 24 minutes and 11 seconds. However, this year, the event was created to bring awareness and to raise funds for his hometown, Sisak, which was heavily affected by the recent major earthquake in Croatia that happened last December 2020. "We hope to raise some money for people in need because earthquakes destroyed the whole city of Petrinja," Buda said in an interview for Net.Hr. The funds collected will be used for the reconstruction of the Room of Miracles (Soba Čuda) of the Association of Persons with Disabilities of the Sisak-Moslavina County, whose premises were severely damaged by the recent earthquake.

Proving to all of us that the only person one should try to be better than is oneself, Buda claims his age does not hold him back at all. Quite the contrary, he believes it helps him persevere through the hardships so he could achieve even better results.

"I am addicted to training of any kind so I have no problem with motivation and I never stop dreaming about achieving the top results despite my age. Now I have proved that everything is possible if you are strong and dedicated. In fact, my age gave me a benefit of experience to stay calm at the critical moments."

Guinness World Record reports that the previous record was 24 min 3.45 secs, held by Aleix Segura Vendrell in Barcelona, Spain, on 28 February 2016.

The first documented attempt was by Robert Foster (USA), who voluntarily held his breath for 13 min 42.5 sec under 3.05 m on 15 March 1959.

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Saturday, 28 November 2020

Split Sports Association Against Lockdown: Kids Can Go to School but Can't Train

November 28, 2020 - The Split Sports Association has sent an open letter to the relevant institutions regarding the new lockdown measures in Croatia, which forbid sports activity for the younger population. 

Index.hr reports that in an open letter to the relevant institutions, the Split Sports Association assessed that the latest measures to combat the coronavirus epidemic are not prudent because they prevent children's sports activity, warning that the decision on these measures is discriminatory towards younger ages.

"We are interested in who participated in the adoption of these measures on behalf of Croatian sports, which leads to the very logical conclusion that it is not prudent to prevent children's sports activities until the measure of closing regular classes in primary and secondary schools is adopted," the open letter reads.

The letter raises the question - what guided the proponents of these measures when they made the discriminatory decision to allow seniors to engage in sports activities despite scientific evidence that the effects of COVID-19 are significantly less pronounced in the younger population.

The Split Sports Federation sent an open letter to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the National Civil Protection Headquarters, the National Sports Council, the Croatian Olympic Committee, and the Split-Dalmatia County Civil Protection Headquarters.

“How is it possible that the same children (primary and secondary schools) can be in daily contact for five to six hours indoors and cannot be outdoor or indoor training with their clubs, two to three times a week for one to two hours?" the letter adds. They recall that the Sports Act explicitly speaks of sport as an activity of special interest to the Republic of Croatia.

Furthermore, the letter raises the question - what is the greater risk of transmitting COVID-19 in sports activities in nature or indoors with a prescribed distance compared to the permitted activities in some other activities?

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

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Summer to Remember for Croatian Sports, and It's Not Over Yet

Croatian sports have a lot more to be thankful for this summer than ‘just’ the World Cup silver. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Sick of The World Cup? Here Are Five Alternative Croatian ‘Sports’

June 12, 2018 — Not too riled up about watching a bunch of footballers half-heartedly kick a ball as they travel about Russia during the World Cup? You're not alone. Fortunately, Croatia has admirable and odd alternatives.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

One Month Away from 2018 Winter Olympics: Who Will Represent Croatia?

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang from February 9 to 25, 2018.

Monday, 1 January 2018

An Exciting Year Ahead for Croatian Athletes: A Look at Sporting Events in 2018

2018 should be very exciting for Croatian athletes in the world of sports.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Split to Host the European Weightlifting Championships in 2017

Another European championship to be hosted in Croatia's famous sporting city.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Croatian Footall League: Watch All the Game Highlights and All the Draws

A weekend of games in the Croatian Football League with no winners or losers.

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