Monday, 6 September 2021

Team Croatia Takes Home Record 7 Medals from Tokyo Paralympics

September 6, 2021 - A job well done for Team Croatia, taking home a record 7 medals from the Tokyo Paralympics this summer!

By extinguishing the Paralympic flame at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, the 16th Summer Paralympic Games officially ended, with a record 4,537 athletes from 162 countries, including 22 Croatian Paralympians.

Croatian athletes competed in a record eight sports, winning a record seven medals - three silver and four bronze. So far, Croatian Paralympians had won the most medals in London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016), five each.

They were certainly the most special Paralympic Games in history. With a year of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were held in incredible conditions, without spectators, and with strict epidemiological protocols, with intense testing of all participants in a city in a state of emergency due to a record number of coronavirus infections.

However, after the Olympic Games were successfully held, the Paralympic Games passed without major problems. Nevertheless, the “bubble,” with minor exceptions, endured. Organizers said there had been just over 350 positive tests on about 1 million tests since July 1.

Thus, Tokyo went down in history as the first city to hold two summer Olympics and POIs (1964, 2020).

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons noted that "the Tokyo Games have exceeded all expectations."

"It was fantastic, we provided the athletes with a safe environment, and at the same time, we protected the Japanese population," said Parsons, who experienced his first summer Paralympic Games since he took over the IPC in 2017.

In sports, these Games also offered countless incredible stories, emotions, joys, but also sadness. They have been a driver of change to break down social barriers to discrimination for people with disabilities.

"They provided so many emotions; that is the power of sports. There is no better tool for rehabilitation than sports, is the common thought of Paralympians."

The concept of the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 was the "Harmonious Cacophony."

A world inspired by the Paralympic Games, a world where differences shine. In this world, different bodies, unique technologies, and different materials come together as a harmonious and colorful whole, not as one mixed color. What at first glance seems like the beginning of a cacophony is actually the birth of a new harmony. Because differences do not create conflict but give birth to a new future is the final thought of the closing ceremony.

At the closing ceremony, the Croatian flag was carried by para-taekwondo fighter Ivan Mikulić, who won silver on the last day of the competition.

"Our journey is coming to an end," said the president of the Organizing Committee, Seiko Hashimoto, telling the Paralympians that they have inspired many of us.

Team Croatia won seven medals in Tokyo, bringing Croatia to 26 medals in the history of the Summer Paralympic Games.

The first medal in Tokyo was won by Velimir Šandor, who won silver in the discus throw in the F52 category. Then Anđela Mužinić and Helena Dretar Karić won bronze in the table tennis team competition.

The series was continued by Ivan Katanušić, who won the silver in the discus throw in the F64 category, followed by bronze medals by Dino Sinovčić in the 100-meter backstroke and Mikela Ristoski in the long jump.

At the end of the Games, Ivan Mikulić won silver in taekwondo, while Deni Černi won bronze in shot put. 

The first medal for Croatia in the history of the Paralympic Games was won by Milka Milinković in the javelin throw in 1992 in Barcelona. Four bronze medals followed in Athens in 2004 - three for swimmer Mihovil Španja and one for Jelena Vuković in the discus throw.

In Beijing in 2008, Croatia won four medals - three gold and one silver. The first places were won by Antonia Balek in the javelin and shot put and Darko Kralj in the shot put, while Branimir Budetić won silver in the javelin throw.

In London 2012, Darko Kralj won silver in the shot put, Zoran Talić was second in the long jump, Mihovil Španja swam for bronze, Mikela Ristoski jumped to bronze, and Budetić was third in the javelin throw.

At the last Games before Tokyo, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Mikela Ristoski was gold in the long jump and Sandra Paović in table tennis. Anđela Mužinić and Helena Dretar Karić won silver in the table tennis team competition, as well as Zoran Talić in the long jump, while Velimir Šandor was third in the discus throw.

Source: HRT

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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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Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Tokyo 2020: Croatia Paralympic Athletes Competing in Record Number of Sports

August 17, 2021 - Croatia Paralympic athletes will compete in a record 8 sports in Tokyo at the 2020 Paralympic Games. 

The Croatian Paralympic Committee has concluded the list of athletes for the 16th Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo, held from August 24 to September 5, 2021, says HPO.

Croatia's colors will be defended by 22 para-athletes in as many as a record eight sports, of which we are competing in para-taekwondo, para-bocce, and para-triathlon for the first time.

Mikela Ristoski, Ivan Katanušić, Miljenko Vučić, Zoran Talić, Deni Černi, Velimir Šandor, Marijan Presečan, Matija Sloup, Ana Gradečak and Vladimir Gašpar compete in para-athletics.

Dino Sinovčić, Kristijan Vincetić, Tomi Brajša, and the youngest member of the national team, 17-year-old Paula Novina, will compete in para-swimming. Anđela Mužinić and Helena Dretar Karić and Pavao Jozić will compete in table tennis.

Damir Bošnjak represents Croatian para-shooting for the fourth time.

Lucija Brešković will compete in para-judo for the second time.

Ivan Mikulić will compete in para-taekwondo, Davor Komar in para-bocce, and Antonio Franko in the para-triathlon. 

The Croatian flag will be carried at the Games' opening ceremony by Mikela Ristoski from Pula, the winner of the long jump gold in Rio de Janeiro and the bronze in London. The Opening Ceremony is on August 24 at 8 pm local time. 

The final preparations for the 16th Paralympic Games are underway.

HPO President Ratko Kovačić said: "Since independence, Croatian para-athletes have competed in seven summer Paralympic Games, winning 20 medals. Our sports heroes regularly achieve top sports results," Kovačić said, adding that "It was they who showed with their sporting achievements and results what it means to give their best. I sincerely thank them all for that! I am very proud of our athletes because, for the first time, we will perform in as many as eight sports, of which in as many as three for the first time. Before these somewhat strange games, our athletes showed that there are no limits for them.

All this was achieved in pandemic conditions when many of the athletes did not have the continuity of preparations even though international competitions have almost died out in the past year, then any further comment is unnecessary. In Tokyo, even with stringent epidemiological measures, I expect that we will continue the successful series of winning medals. In the end, I can only wish to reach the result from Rio de Janeiro when we won five medals," said President Ratko Kovačić.

Para-table tennis players Anđela Mužinić and Helena Dretar Karić will be the first to enter the arenas in the individual competition on August 25 at 9:00 local time in the Tokyo Metropolitan gymnasium.

The ceremonial farewell of the first part of the national team will be held on August 20 at the Hotel "Antunović," and the Paralympians will fly to Tokyo from the "Franjo Tuđman" International Airport on August 21.

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