Monday, 23 December 2019

Croatian Sport 2019: A Year in Review

December 23, 2019 - How did this year compare to Croatia’s most successful year in sport? A look at Croatian sport in 2019. 

It seemed as though nothing could quite compare to 2018. It was the year Croatian football became World Cup finalists. The year Croatia brought home the Davis Cup trophy and thus gained sweet revenge on France. A year so successful, we’d never seen anything like it in Croatian history. 

As 2019 began, I was hardly optimistic.

“How could we be so lucky again?”

Fortunately, the year was full of pleasant surprises. It was a year that saw our young talents thrive. A year that saw countless triumphs in both individual and team sports. It was another epic year in Croatian sport.

Here is our  2019 year in review. 

Croatia Handball: 2019 began with the Men’s Handball World Championship, which featured Croatia in Group B. After four impressive wins against Iceland, Japan, Macedonia, and Bahrain, Croatia met Spain to decide the winner of the group. After topping Spain 23:19, Croatia went on to win Group B and continued to the main round of the tournament. Croatia was not so lucky there, losing to Brazil 29:26 and Germany 21:22, which ultimately took them out of the fight for the medal. A win against France for the final game of the main round restored their morale, though a loss to Sweden, in the end, saw Croatia finish the tournament as the 6th best team in the world. Croatia will play in the European Championships next month against Montenegro, Belarus and Serbia in Graz. 

Franko Grgic: Promising Croatian swimmer, 16-year-old Franko Grgic, won two gold swimming medals in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races at this year's World Junior Championships, and was even selected among the five finalists for the Piotr Nurowski Award, which as awarded by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) for the ninth time. Though he didn’t win the award in the end, he made sure he was on everyone’s swimming radar. The PK Jadran Split swimmer had an outstanding August, celebrating two gold medals and achieving new records at the 7th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest. After winning the gold in the 800-meter-freestyle while breaking a Croatian record, the 16-year-old swimming sensation became the world champion in the 1500-meter-freestyle and achieved a new world junior record with a time of 14:46.09 minutes. Grgic swam 10.46 seconds faster in Budapest than his best-ever record in the 1500 meters, which was also Croatia's national record. Franko’s previous career-fastest in the 800-meter free was achieved in Zagreb in March, where he swam 7:53.75. In Budapest, however, Grgic was 8 seconds faster, thus breaking the Croatian record held by Marin Mogic (7:51:78). Grgic was thus named the 25th fastest performer of all-time, any age, in this 800-meter freestyle. At the beginning of the year, Grgic won the gold in the 400-meter and 1500 meter at the EYOF in Baku, and also hit the Olympic standard for Tokyo 2020. We can’t wait to see him in Tokyo next summer.

 

Croatia Basketball: It wasn’t the greatest year for Croatia basketball, which failed to qualify for the World Cup in China back in August. However, with new coach Veljko Mrsic on the bench, Croatia still has a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The light at the end of the tunnel to 2019 was the welcoming news that Split would be host to the 2020 Olympic Qualifying tournament next June, where Croatia will face Tunisia and Brazil, and crossover with Germany or Russia. It will be the strongest tournament played on Croatian ground since EuroBasket 1989 in Zagreb. But not all was bleak. In the NBA, Croatia captain Bojan Bogdanovic saw a stellar transfer to the Utah Jazz this summer, where he’s been playing the basketball of his career. Ivica Zubac is still a hit at the LA Clippers and Dario Saric is finding his footing better at the Phoenix Suns. Croatia also boasts a record seven players in the NBA this season. To end on a high, two legendary Croatian basketball players Toni Kukoc and Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Giergia have been listed among the 50 candidates nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Illinois. 

Dina Levacic: Another year, another swimming success for Dina Levacic! In 7 hours, 13 minutes and 15 seconds, 23-year-old Solin native Dina Levacic completed the Tsugaru Strait to complete the fourth open water channel swim out of the seven in the 'Oceans Seven' challenge. The channel is located between Japan's largest island, Honshu and Hokkaido, and high waves and strong frontal wind accompanied the Croatian swimmer the entire way. The member of the Split Swimming Club set one of her best times and became only the 67th person to complete the Tsugaru Strait.

The ‘Ocean Seven’ is a series of seven international swimming marathons, modeled after the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge. Dina Levačić had already swum three marathon channels from the ‘Ocean Seven’ series before attempting the Tsugaru: Catalina Channel, English Channel (La Manche) and Moloka’i Channel. After the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, Dina will still need to overcome the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland, the Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa and the Cook Strait in New Zealand.

Croatia Football: On the heels of the greatest sporting success in Croatian history, the Croatia football team did not disappoint this year. Croatia’s Euro 2020 qualifiers kicked off back in March against Azerbaijan, where they won 2:1 at home. A shocking loss to Hungary stirred the pot, though wins against Wales and Slovakia put Croatia back on their feet. Draws to Wales and Azerbaijan complicated Croatia’s road to the Euros only slightly, as big wins against Hungary and Slovakia in the return games sealed the deal. Croatia not only qualified for the Euros next summer, but they finished at the top of their qualifying group. 2019 was also a pivotal year for Croatian football, as it will be remembered as the year the national team returned to Poljud stadium in Split for the first time since 2015. Croatia played to a sold-out stadium and coach Zlatko Dalic called it the best atmosphere they’d experienced. The Euros await Croatia next year, where they will face England, the Czech Republic, and the winner of the Nations League C (Norway/Serbia v Scotland/Israel). 

Dinamo Zagreb: It was another successful year for Dinamo Zagreb, who clinched the Croatian Championship title for the 20th time back in April after defeating Slaven Belupo. Dinamo secured the title six rounds before the end of the season and 23 points ahead of Rijeka in second. While Rijeka went on to win the Croatian Cup, Dinamo went on to have an impressive Champions League campaign. After soaring through the Champions League qualifiers and playoff round, Dinamo advanced to the Group Stage against Manchester City, Atalanta, and Shakhtar Donetsk. Dinamo opened their seventh Champions League appearance against Atalanta at Maksimir stadium with a shocking 4:0 victory. They fell to City both times, drew to Shakhtar twice, and couldn’t do itagainst Atalanta the second time around. The Zagreb club finished last in their group and will not continue their European run in the spring. 

Croatia Water Polo: It was a busy year for the Croatia water polo team, which began with the Europa Cup in Zagreb, where Croatia failed to defend the title after losing to Hungary in the final. From the Europa Cup to the World League Super Final in Serbia, Croatia went on to defeat Kazakhstan, Australia, Japan, and Spain for a spot in the final against Serbia, where they lost by one goal. The summer continued with the World Championships, where Croatia was again better than Australia,  the USA, and Kazakhstan. They defeated Germany in the quarterfinal but lost to Spain in the semis to miss their chance in the final. Croatia did, however, beat Hungary for third place. Croatia will compete in the Euros next month, where they will have to finish at the top to secure their spot in the Tokyo Olympics next summer. Croatia water polo ended the year with yet another impressive recognition as two team members are among the top seven in the world - Maro Jokovic and Josip Vrlic.

Croatia Tennis: Unlike last year, where Croatia took home the Davis Cup title, this year saw a Croatia squad plagued with injuries and a new coach just days before the tournament was to begin. Croatia didn’t make it out of their group this time around after falling to Russia and Spain, but they can be proud of their individual achievements. Osijek native Donna Vekic made it to the Nottingham final where she lost to Caroline Garcia.  She even advanced to the round of 16 at the Cincinnati Masters, Roland Garros, and the US Open. Petra Martic defeated 19-year-old Czech player Markéta Vondroušová to get her first WTA title at the Istanbul Cup.  Martic also secured the fourth WTA final of her career at the Zhengzhou Open, where she lost to Karolina Pliskova, and also faced Serena Williams in the US Open round of 16. Both Petra and Donna played in the WTA Elite Trophy tournament, which brings together female tennis players ranked 9th to 19th on the WTA ladder. Borna Coric made it to the semifinal of the Dubai Open, Rosmalen, and St. Petersburg, where he ultimately went on to the final. Marin Cilic’s first semifinal in fourteen months wasn’t until the Kremlin Cup back in October. The real star of Croatian tennis this year is Ivan Dodig, who won two ATP doubles titles with Filip Polasek, at the China Open and the Cincinnati Masters. Dodig also won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Latisha Chan and defended their Roland Garros title just weeks before. 

Sandra Perkovic: Sandra Perkovic failed to defend the world championship title in the discus throw this year, which she won two years ago in London, but still secured a medal at the World Championships in Doha. Namely, Perkovic won the bronze medal after throwing 66.72 meters in the first series of the finals, while Cubans Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero were the gold and silver medalists. This was Sandra’s fourth medal at the World Championships. Sandra became the world champion in Moscow in 2013 and London in 2017 and won the silver in Beijing in 2015. In addition to four world championship medals, Perkovic is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time European champion.

Croatia Gymnastics: It was another big year for Tin Srbic, who won the silver medal at the European Championships in Szczecin in the horizontal bar event. The Croatian gymnast went on to win the gold medal with an impressively high score of 14.900 points at the World Cup in Paris, and ended the year with a silver medal at the World Championships in Stuttgart. He was also named the best Croatian male athlete by the Croatian Olympic Committee. 

 

Croatia’s best female gymnast Ana Đerek won the gold medal at the World Cup competition in Osijek after a brilliant floor performance, and Robert Seligman advanced to the Cottbus World Cup finals in the pommel horse. 

Sinkovic Brothers: The dynamic duo did it again! The year began with a second-place medal in the coxless pairs at the World Cup in Plovdiv, though it only went up from there. Martin and Valent Sinkovic defended their world rowing championship title in the coxless pairs in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, and ended the year as the best rowing team in the world, declared by the FISA World Rowing Organization!

Snjezana Pejcic: Croatia's best female shooter Snjezana Pejcic and her Indian teammate Divyansh Singh Panwar won the mixed team air rifle competition to wrap up the World Cup final in Putian, China. Pejcic has already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will be her fourth appearance at the Olympic Games. 

Croatia Taekwondo: The Croatia national team finished their appearance at the European Senior Championships with three medals - silver medals for Lovro Brecic and Toni Kanaet and a bronze for Matea Jelic. 

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Dino Sinovcic: Croatian Paralympian Dino Sinovcic won the 100m backstroke gold medal in the S6 category at the WPS World Paralympic Championships in London. Sinovic won at the Queen Elizabeth Aquatic Center with a time of 1:15.46, ahead of the Chinese swimmer Hong Yang who swam a time of 1:15.47 for the silver, and Argentine Matias De Andrade, who swam a time of 1:16.91 for the bronze. 

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Stipe Miocic: The 36-year-old Croatian-American Stipe Miocic defeated 40-year-old American Daniel Cormier by a knockout in the fourth round of the UFC 241 fight held in Anaheim, California. Stipe thus won sweet revenge on Cormier and brought back the UFC Heavyweight Champion title to Ohio after he lost it to Cormier in Las Vegas 13 months before. The fight between Miocic and Cormier lasted more than 19 minutes, in which the title defender had more significant blows (123-98). 

Croatia Karate: The karate gold and silver came to Croatia thanks to the brilliant Kvesic brothers from Karate club Hercegovina-Zagreb. At this year's European Games in Minsk, Ivan Kvesic won the gold medal while his brother Anđelo Kvesic secured the silver. Croatian representatives returned home with eight medals from the European Games in Minsk - two gold, one silver and five bronze.

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

Saturday, 23 November 2019

FISA World Rowing Organization Declares Sinkovic Brothers Best in World!

November 23, 2019 - The Sinkovic Brothers have added to their collection of accolades with the latest honor received by the FISA World Rowing Organization. 

At an awards ceremony in London, the world rowing champions Martin and Valent Sinkovic were selected as the 'Best Male Crew of 2019' in the coxless pairs discipline. 

This is another wonderful recognition for the European, world, and Olympic winners, who have proven once again that their work and results are acknowledged worldwide.

"We are delighted with the award because this is a great confirmation of how much we are worth in the world. Perhaps the biggest confirmation is that we have moved into a new discipline and that is where we have been able to defend the world title,” said Valent Sinkovic.

The Sinkovic Brothers' excellence was officially recognized by the World Rowing Federation in 2016 when Martin and Valent were named best male crew, while coach Nikola Bralic was named the best rowing coach in the world in 2015.

“It is a great honor when a World Organization in your sport chooses you to be the best crew in the world in two different disciplines. They recognized our results, that's a big deal and a big motivation for the Olympics. We are now training very hard for Tokyo to try and win the best medal in coxless pairs, thus writing the history of rowing,” said Martin Sinkovic. 

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Press

FISA awards the 'Best in 2019' in seven categories for best male and female crew, best para-rowing crew, best coach, a special award for contributing to rowing as a sport, an award for the university rower who has demonstrated the core values of rowing in all aspects of life, and the world rowing award for sustainability.

The best rowing crews and coaches were nominated by spectators, rowing enthusiasts, and the media, and the finalists were selected by the FISA Council on the basis of their candidacy. In addition to the Sinkovic Brothers in the Men's Crew of the Year competition, there were also national teams from China, Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

Source: Zagreb Express

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

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Sinkovic Brothers Up for Best Male Rowing Crew of the Year!

October 16, 2019 - Rowing world champions Martin and Valent Sinkovic (also known as the Sinkovic Brothers) have been nominated by the World Rowing Federation (FISA) for the best male crew of the year!

Sportklub.hr writes that this is yet another impressive recognition for both the Sinkovic brothers and coach Nikola Bralic, who have found themselves among the best in the world once again, proving that their work and results are recognized worldwide.

The Sinkovic brothers' excellence was already officially recognized by the World Rowing Federation in 2016, when Martin and Valent were named the best male crew, while coach Nikola Bralić was selected as the best rowing coach in the world in 2015.

"We are extremely proud of this nomination. It is another confirmation of all the results we are achieving and all the effort we make throughout the year," Valent said. Martin added: "I hope we are selected for the second time in our careers, it is a very great honor and a wonderful recognition after such a beautiful season. But even if we are not selected, it is a big deal just to be nominated among so many top crews."

FISA awards the best in 2019 in seven categories, including best male and female Crew, best para-rowing crew, best coach, a special award for contributing to rowing as a sport, University rowing, an award for those who have demonstrated the core values of rowing in all aspects of life, and the world rowing award for sustainability.

Will the Sinkovic brothers receive another valuable award to decorate their successful rowing year? The best will be awarded on November 22, 2019, in London. 

The best rowing crews and coaches were nominated by spectators, rowing enthusiasts and the media. The FISA Council then selected the finalists based on their candidacy. Along with the Sinkovic brothers, the men's crew of the year competition also boasts crews from China, Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

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

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Sinkovic Brothers Defend Title of Rowing World Champions in Austria!

August 31, 2019 - The Sinkovic brothers, also known as Valent and Martin Sinkovic, defended the world rowing championship title in the coxless pairs discipline.

The Sinkovic brothers dominated the final race at the World Championships in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria, from the first to the last row, finishing 3.19 seconds ahead of second-placed New Zealanders Thomas Murray and Michael Brake, reports HRT.

The bronze went to Australians Sam Hardy and Joshua Hicks, who were 7.53 seconds behind the Sinkovic brothers. 

After the first 500 meters, the Sinkovic brothers were already a boat ahead of the New Zealanders, and halfway through the course, their advantage almost doubled (2.88 seconds) ahead of their closest opponents, while the Australians in third and Italians in fourth were already behind by more than five seconds.

Although the New Zealand crew seemed to be approaching the Croatian duo in the third leg of the course, Valent and Martin still increased their advantage with a forceful finish.

For the Sinkovic brothers, this is the sixth gold from the world championships. They won with David Šain and Damir Martin (2010, 2013) in the quadruple sculls, twice in the double sculls (2014, 2015) and twice in coxless pairs (2018, 2019). They also have silver in coxless pairs from 2017 and a bronze in the quadruple sculls from 2011.

FINAL:

1. Croatia 6:42.28

2. New Zealand 6:45.47

3. Australia 6:51.81

4. Italy 6:55.34

5. Spain 6:57.40

6. France 7:02.05

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

Friday, 30 August 2019

Sinković Brothers Qualify for 2020 Olympics, Advance to World Championship Finals

August 30, 2019 - After placing in the finals of the World Championships, which are held in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria, the Sinković brothers fulfilled their first goal, which is qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Brothers Valentin and Martin Sinković have advanced to the finals of coxless pairs at the Rowing World Championships in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria, after finishing with the fastest time of 6:27.080 in the group semifinals, reports Gol.hr.

In the second place, 1.88 seconds behind the Sinković bothers, was Italy's Matteo Lodo and Giuseppe Vicino with a time of 6:28.960, and in third Spanish duo Jaime Canalejo Pazos and Javier Garcia Ordonez with a time of 6:29.320. In first place in the second semifinal group was New Zealand's Thomas Murray and Michael Brake (6.26.630), in second was Australia's Sam Hardy and Joshua Hicks (6: 27.070) and in third French team Valentin and Theophile Onofroy (6:27.300).

"It’s a relief! We sort of expected to qualify, but it’s still a relief! We’re ready for the final. It would be a dream to win. First the 2x, then the 2-, that would be a dream,” said Valent Sinković after the win. 

This semi-final race was due to take place on Thursday, but as the other group had to paddle in the afternoon since the Polish crew broke a paddle, it was moved on Friday to allow all crews plenty of time to rest.

By securing a spot in the finals, the Sinković brothers fulfilled their first goal, which is qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

The finale is scheduled for Saturday at 1:37 p.m.

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

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Sinković Brothers Defend European Championship Title in Lucerne!

The Sinković brothers are the 2019 European champions in rowing!

Brothers Martin and Valent Sinković won the gold medal in the coxless pairs at the European Rowing Championships in Lucerne, while Luka Radonić in the lightweight single sculls and Damir Martin in the single sculls remained without a medal, reports Gol.hr on June 2, 2019. 

The Sinković brothers have thus defended the European championship title in dominant fashion and now boast four gold medals from European Championships.

The Sinković brothers started strong in the final and at 500 meters, they already had more than a two-second advantage. Halfway through the race, they increased their lead even more.

By the end, the Zagreb duo quietly controlled the race and hit the finish line with a time of 6:22.460 minutes, ahead of Romania (6.24.530) and Spain (6: 26.310).

The two-time European champion Damir Martin took fifth place in the final of the single sculls with a time of 6.55.590 minutes. The European gold was won by German rower Ziedler with a time of 6:47.320.

Martin started a little slower and 500 meters was only sixth. Halfway through the race, he. Improved to the fifth place, but in the end, he did not have the strength to get closer to the leaders.

Luka Radonić took the fourth place in the final of lightweight single sculls with a time of 7:06.490 minutes.

The winner was Hungarian Galambos, and Luka was behind the third-placed Italian Goretti by more than four seconds.

More soon...

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

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Damir Martin Wins First, Sinković Brothers Second at World Cup in Plovdiv

Damir Martin won first place in the single sculls at this year's World Cup rowing tournament in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Sinković Brothers Advance to Final of World Cup in Plovdiv!

Croatia’s champion rowers the Sinković brothers and Damir Martin kicked off this year's World Cup in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv with victories. Martin and Valent Sinković have thus placed into Sunday's final in coxless pairs, while Martin has made it to the semifinal of single sculls.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Champion Rowers Valent and Martin Sinković Open New Season in Plovdiv

The media met with champion rowers the Sinković brothers to discuss the start of the new rowing season and the 1st World Cup in Plovdiv.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Croatian Sport 2018: A Year in Review

December 30, 2018 - The year 2018 will be remembered as the greatest year of Croatian sport - and no, not just because Croatia became World Cup finalists and brought home the Davis Cup. 

Did you know that in the 365 days of 2018, Croatian athletes participated in some 700 World and European competitions and brought home 292 medals, of which 97 are gold, 85 are silver and 110 are bronze? 

In 2018, Croatian athletes lifted the dark cloud over them made up of poor infrastructure and conditions, bureaucracy, and incomprehensible laws, and pushed to the bring home the most significant achievements since Croatia became an independent state. 

In 2018, Croatian athletes surprised and succeeded, and the fans at home and abroad certainly made sure they returned the favor, showing their pride and appreciation in ways the country had never experienced before. 

To a year in sport summarized best by a Zaprešić Boys song you may have heard one too many times - 2018 was indescribable. 

Croatia becomes World Cup finalists 

It seems the only logical place to begin is Russia. Without diminishing the importance of any sport or any other success achieved this year, Croatian football’s second place at the World Cup is an unbelievable result given the circumstances and whirlwind of events it took for them to get there. 

This generation of Croatian football knew it was their last opportunity to accomplish something big - and the international media was watching. After Čačić’s downfall, Croatia’s dreams of advancing to the World Cup at all were grim. But a man mostly unknown in the world of Croatian football stepped in to save the day - and that man was Zlatko Dalić. 

Not only did he slowly begin to restore the faith in the national team, but Dalić took the team to Russia with self-confidence, unity, and a wave of positivity. His tactics brought Croatia their first group stage victory against Nigeria, which was followed by an unbelievable bashing of Messi’s Argentina. Croatia’s reserves pulled out a win against Iceland to top the group, and the momentum behind the team only grew stronger. 

Some might say that Croatia had an easier road to the final than France, though if you ask members of the team or the fans who watched the knockout stages of the competition clinching their teeth - it was no walk in the park. Against Denmark and the host Russia, Croatia took the games into the extra time and penalties - and prevailed. Against England, Croatia came back from 0:1 and again pushed the game to 120 minutes. They sealed their first World Cup final in history. 

Croatia met France in the final, a country that has as many registered footballers as Croatia’s population. With every atom of energy they had left, Croatia fought in the final with intensity and class, though a bit of bad luck gave France the Cup in the end. 

But you wouldn’t know it if you happened to be in Croatia.

Despite the defeat, Croatians rushed to the streets to welcome their World Cup finalists. Over half a million people in Zagreb alone braved the summer heat for over six hours to welcome the silver medalists. Whether it was silver or gold, everyone in Croatia was aware this was an accomplishment they might never witness again. 

Luka Modrić wins the Ballon d’Or… and everything else in 2018

Riding the wave of Croatia’s success, Luka Modrić had the season of a lifetime. After winning his third consecutive Champions League title with Real Madrid (and his fourth overall), Luka’s flawless World Cup performance secured him the Golden Ball of the tournament - and then the accolades kept coming. 

Following the World Cup, Luka was named the best player in Europe by UEFA and the world by FIFA. He was the favorite for France Football’s Ballon d’Or and won - breaking the decade-long domination of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi.

Thus, Luka Modrić picked up every major individual award for the best player in 2018. But if you ask him, he’ll say his favorite award of the year was becoming World Cup finalists with Croatia. 

Croatian tennis wins their second Davis Cup title

2018 was coming to an end, and the football euphoria was beginning to fade - but it was Croatia’s tennis players to lift it back up. After Croatia’s stellar semi-final result in Zadar against the USA, they journeyed to France for the final. Seeking revenge for Croatian football, on day one of the finals, Marin Čilić and Borna Ćorić put Croatia in the lead with 2:0. Though France won the doubles match on Saturday, Croatia’s best tennis player Marin Čilić pulled out the win against Lucas Pouille on Sunday for Croatia’s second Davis Cup title in history. 

This was Croatia’s second Davis Cup title after winning in 2005, though this Davis Cup had even more meaning - it will forever remain that Croatia won the last Davis Cup as we know it. Recall, the competition is moving to a new format next year. 

Sandra Perković becomes the European Champions for the 5th time

What a year it has been for the Discus Queen, Sandra Perković. In 2018, Perković became the first athlete, male or female, to win the European Championships five times. Croatia’s cherished discus thrower won in Barcelona in 2010, Helsinki in 2012, Zürich in 2014, Amsterdam in 2016 and this year in Berlin - where she threw 67.62 meters.

Croatia’s best female athlete and one of the best of all time also experienced a great injustice in the Diamond League this year. Though she was convincingly the best in the competition, winning all four previous meetings, according to the new rules, all points were erased, and only the final in Brussels decided the winner. Sandra was not ready for the final as she had fallen ill and finished third, giving Sandra her first defeat after 13 months and leaving her without her seventh consecutive Diamond League title. 

Sinković Brothers become European and World Champions in a new discipline 

Martin and Valent Sinković delighted the world once again. After three unbeatable seasons in double sculls, the discipline in which they won all they could (Olympic, World, and European gold), in 2016, after winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio, they decided to take on a new discipline - men’s pairs. 

Though many wondered why the duo would take on a new challenge when they were already the best, the brothers once again showed that could reach the top - no matter the obstacles ahead. In 2018, Martin and Valent became European and World champions in their new discipline - pairs! 

Croatian water polo wins the bronze at the European Championships 

In the shadow of Croatia’s spectacular performance in Russia this summer, Croatian water polo won their first European medal in eight years at the European Championship in Barcelona in July. Though Ivica Tucak’s team lost to Serbia in the semifinals 9:7, they defeated Italy 10:8 for the third place and thus the bronze medal.

Fantela Brothers became World Champions in sailing 

Šime and Mihovil Fantela from Zadar had a stellar sailing season. The duo won the gold in the 49er class at the World Championship in Aarhus in August after only sailing this discipline for a year! Just how dominant they were is shown by the fact that the brothers secured the gold even before the final sail. 

Best of all, the Fantela brothers were also nominated for the Rolex World Sailor of the Year award, placing them among the five best sailors in the world. 

Dino Rađa inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Dino Rađa became a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Illinois in September.

Rađa thus became the fourth Croatian to be honored with this most prestigious achievement in basketball after Krešimir Ćosić, Dražen Petrović, and Mirko Novosel.

Croatia’s U-21 football team advances to Euro 2019 for the first time in 15 years 

Croatia’s young footballers showed they had talent this year, too. After a 4:0 win over San Marino in October, Croatia become one of the twelve teams who will compete at the 2019 Euros. While this is the third time Croatia’s U-21 team will play in the tournament, it is the first time Croatia has advanced to the Euros in 15 years. The last time Croatia competed was in Germany 2004, where they took the last place in the group. 

Marin Ranteš becomes BMX World Champion 

Croatia even had a world champion in extreme sports this year. Varaždin native Marin Ranteš became the world champion of BMX. Ranteš was the overall winner of the FISE World Series in Hiroshima, Montpellier, Edmonton, and Chengdu, China, and even won HOO’s fair play award!

Dinamo Zagreb end their European curse 

Dinamo Zagreb has had a phenomenal year and an even better Europa League campaign. Topping their group with four wins in the first four games and two draws, Dinamo has thus broken their 49-year-old curse and will advance to the next stage of the competition in the spring.

Nenad Bjelica’s side will play against Viktoria Plzen in the round of 32 in February. 

And that’s not all…

Split’s Ivan Šarić won first place at the European Chess Championships in Batumi, Georgia in a competition of 302 players from 34 countries. Gymnast Robert Seligman won the silver medal at the European Championships in Glasgow for the pommel horse, and Tin Srbić won two gold medals in the World Cup in Doha and Osijek. 

Croatia’s representatives in Taekwondo brought home eight medals from the European Championships in Kazan, of which three are gold, and Ivan Kvesić became the world champion in karate. In this sport, the national team also won two gold and two bronze medals at the senior European Championships in Novi Sad.

Croatia’s Paralympians were also incredibly successful at the Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang. Dino Sokolović won the gold medal in the skiing slalom competition and Bruno Bošnjak won the bronze in the banked slalom for snowboarding. 

There was almost no archery competition where Croatian representatives did not bring back at least one medal. At the World Cup in South Korea, Petar Gorša, Snježana Pejčić, Miran Maričić and Josip Kuna won two silver and three bronze medals. Anton Glasnović won the silver at the European Championships for trap shooting, and we were even better in the crossbow.

At the European Championships in Estonia, Croatia won five gold, three silver, and two bronze medals. The European champions were Domagoj Pereglin, Valentina Pereglin and junior Martin Oboroveck, and the male and female team competitions. 

Have we missed anything yet?

This unbelievable year in Croatian sport is the result of the dedication, will, ambition, and effort made by Croatian athletes. 

What will 2019 bring?

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

Sources: T.portal and Index.hr

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