Sunday, 29 August 2021

Velimir Šandor Wins Discus Throw Silver Medal at Tokyo Paralympics!

August 29, 2021 - Croatia Paralympian Velimir šandor (35) won the silver medal in discus throw in the F52 category, thus winning the first medal for Croatia at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo!

The athlete from Velika Gorica's Uspona won bronze five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, but now he has gone a step further, achieving the greatest success in his career.

After an exhausting and long competition, Šandor reached silver with 19.98 meters, while the gold was won by Poland's Piotr Kosewicz who was four centimeters better. The bronze was won by India's Vinod Kumar, throwing 19.91m, and Latvia's legendary Aigars Apinis, who boasts eight Paralympic medals in discus and shot put, was fourth in the end (19.54).

"This is a miracle; I don’t know what happened in general. I know I'm in Tokyo, but I don't know where I am because my soul and body are somewhere else," said Šandor, who is in a wheelchair after a car accident in 2006.

He admitted that waking up in the hospital after the car accident was one of the most difficult experiences, and this medal was the most emotional moment. He dedicated the medal to his mother with tears in his eyes. She passed away last year.

"This is definitely the most emotional moment, and I dedicate this medal to my mother, who left me last year. She pushed me into sports, motivated and encouraged me. So this is a dedication to her and mom; thank you very much. I know that you directed this," added the athlete.

Interestingly, Šandor won Croatia's first medal in Rio, just like in Tokyo.

"Sloup and I joked about the Paralympic Games starting with us. So they have to put me in Paris on the first or second day to open Croatia's series."

He admitted he hoped for bronze but won silver, with just four centimeters behind gold.

"As rower Damir Martin, whom I highly appreciate, said, this is not silver; it is not even platinum, this is a meteorite that fell."

The discus throwers arrived at the stadium as early as 5 pm; the competition started at 7:30 pm local time and ended around 10 pm. Šandor threw the seventh of eight finalists.

"I lost my strength while waiting; I froze; if I were second or third, I would surely throw over 20 meters. We have waited too long; this needs to be accelerated in the future."

He added that the Paralympic postponement came in handy to put all his dice on a new medal.

"Five years have passed since the medal in Rio, which is not small. So this year of delay is welcome to put things in order, to prepare both physically and mentally," he added.

His only regret is that he will not be able to see Tokyo as a tourist.

"Disappointing that we can't see any corner of this city. I am impressed with how they built all this and how they live in this anthill. I’m sorry I can’t experience this for at least 15 minutes."

He discovered that a lot had changed in his life after Rio. So he started training even harder and resigned two years ago so he could prepare for the Paralympics.

"I threw 18.23 in Rio, today 19.98. That is almost two meters more, which is not a small amount in sports. I used to spend a lot of energy on work and training."

In the end, he had a message to those who consider these Games and this sport a "circus."

"Whoever thinks this is "come, throw, and win a medal," just let them try. Behind all this is enormous work and effort, and I want to thank coaches Ivan Čengić and Miovil Rendulić because, without them, there would be no medal."

In 2006, at the age of 20, Velimir was in a car accident on his way back from a football tournament. He landed with the car in a ditch and awkwardly hit the car's roof, breaking his sixth cervical spine. He was diagnosed with tetraparesis, with partial arm movements and leg sensations, and little movement.

After completing a six-month rehabilitation in Varaždinske Toplice and after a two-year recovery in 2009, he became involved in athletics for people with disabilities.

Šandor hinted at his potential in Sochi at the World Games, where he won gold. In Doha at the 2015 World Cup, he was third, and in 2016 at the European Championships, he won silver.

A year later, he also won silver at the World Championships in London, and this year he was third at the European Championships in Poland.

His coach Ivan Čengić did not hide his enthusiasm for the silver medal either.

"When I entered this amazing stadium, I thought how great it would be to win a medal here. It's a wonderful feeling; I knew he could still, but everyone's fatigue coincided, and in the end, he won silver," said Čengić.

"We have made a step higher than Rio de Janeiro, and Paris is close. We still have gold left. I will not exaggerate, but this is a great success," he added.

He also commented on Šandor's technical performance.

"He could have been better; he was a little stiff. If it had gone easier, he would have safely threw 20 meters," he said.

Source: HRT

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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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Monday, 9 August 2021

Tokyo 2020 Croatia Recap: 8 Olympic Medals, 2nd Most Successful Games in Croatian History

August 9, 2021 - Now that the Olympics Games have ended, a look at the Tokyo 2020 Croatia recap as it was the 2nd most successful Games in Croatian history. 

The Olympic Games in Tokyo are the second most successful Olympics for Croatia in history, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Croatia won three gold, three silver, and two bronze medals in Tokyo, taking 26th place in the overall list of medal winners.

Only in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 were Croatian athletes were more successful, winning five gold, three silver, and two bronze medals.

Croatia equaled the number of gold medals in Tokyo with London in 2012. However, two more silver medals were won. 

At the Olympic premiere in Barcelona in 1992, Croatia won three medals - a silver medal for basketball and a bronze medal for Goran Ivanišević in singles and in doubles with Goran Prpić.

Four years later, in Atlanta, Croatia won gold (handball) and silver (water polo), and in Sydney in 2000, weightlifter Nikolai Peshalov celebrated, while rowing won bronze.

Five medals were won in Athens in 2004, including gold in handball, while in Beijing in 2008, Croatia did not win a single gold medal for the second time. Croatia won two silver medals (Blanka Vlašić, Filip Ude) and three bronze medals (Snježana Pejčić, Martina Zubčić, Sandra Šarić) instead.

For the first time, Croatia won more than one gold in London in 2012, when the Olympic winners were water polo, Sandra Perković in the discus throw, and Giovanni Cernogoraz in trap shooting. In London, Croatia also won four silver (David Šain, Martin Sinković, Damir Martin, Valent Sinković) and two bronze medals (handball, Lucija Zaninović).

The most successful Olympics for Croatian athletes were in Rio, with five gold medals and a total of 10 medals won. Gold medals were won by Josip Glasnović (trap), Sandra Perković (discus), Sara Kolak (javelin), Šime Fantela and Igor Marenić (470), and Martin and Valent Sinković (double sculls).

In Tokyo, Croatia won a total of eight medals. Gold was won by taekwondo artist Matea Jelić, the Sinković brothers in coxless pairs, and Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić in tennis doubles.

Silver was won by Tonči Stipanović in laser sailing, tennis doubles team Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig, and gymnast Tin Srbić, while the bronze was won by taekwondo artist Toni Kanaet and Damir Martin in rowing singles.

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Sunday, 8 August 2021

Croatia Water Polo Finishes Tokyo Olympics in 5th Place

August 8, 2021 - Croatia water polo finished 5th at the Olympic Games in Tokyo after beating the USA 14-11 (2-3, 4-2, 4-2, 4-4) on the last day of the Games.

The "Barracudas" concluded the Olympic tournament with a victory where they broke the USA in the second and third quarters.

Luka Bukić was the most efficient for Croatia with three goals, Xavi Garcia, Ante Vukićević, Maro Joković, and Luka Lončar scored two goals each, and Paulo Obradović, Lovre Miloš, and Marko Macan scored one goal each.

Croatia recorded six wins and two defeats in Tokyo. 

"It is difficult for me at this moment to give an overview of the whole tournament, we recorded six wins and two defeats. That defeat in the quarterfinal against Hungary was painful. Certainly, we are not happy with this, we would have signed before the start to win second place in the group, but no one expected Hungary in the quarterfinal. The draw wanted it that way. The last three or four days here have been really hard and painful for me and the players. But at least we finished the tournament with dignity, as athletes," said the coach Ivica Tucak in his concluding remarks.

The Croatian flag will be carried by the captain of the water polo team, Andro Bušlje, at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, on Sunday, August 8 (from noon Croatia time).

Since none of the medal winners stayed until the end of the Tokyo Games, due to the rules for athletes to leave the Olympic venue within 48 hours after the end of the competition, only the Croatia water polo team was left on the last day of the Games.

According to the head of the Croatian delegation in Tokyo, Damir Šegota, the individual choice of the flag bearer was left to the players and the professional staff of the water polo team, and they decided that it would be the long-time captain Andro Bušlje.

Andro is extremely honored and pleased with this choice and thanked his teammates and members of the professional staff to be the Croatian flag bearer at the closing of the Tokyo Games.

Source: HRT

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Saturday, 7 August 2021

Croatia's Last Hope: No Olympic Medal for Ivan Kvesić

August 7, 2021 - The last individual representative for Croatia at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, 24-year-old Ivan Kvesić, was left without a place in the karate semifinal after he achieved one victory and three defeats in his group in the over 75 kg category. 

Kvesić started the competition with a 3-2 victory against Saudi Tareg Hamedi. This was followed by a fight against Iranian Sajad Ganjzadeh in which the referees did not recognize Kvesić with a kick to the head at 0-0 after a minute and a half of fighting. By the end, the Iranian national was better and won 3-1, reports

In the 2018 world champion's third fight, the 26-year-old Canadian Daniel Gaysinsky surprisingly won 4-1. After getting the point first, Gaysinsky mostly scored points by countering Kvesić's attempts to reverse the score.

Because Saudi Tareg defeated American Brian Irr (4-1) and Gaysinsky (10-3) and drew a point against the Iranian Ganjzadeh (0-0), Kvesić lost his chances of winning one of the first two places even before the last fight against Irr, because the Iranian fighter also had five points after three fights, and the maximum Kvesić could collect was four. He defeated the American 3-1. 

Kvesić is the current world champion in the 84 kg category from the World Championships in Madrid three years ago. He also won an individual silver and two bronze medals from the European Championships, and bronze and gold with the Croatia team at the European Championships in Porec in May. He also won at the 2019 European Games in Minsk. He was Croatia's great hope for a medal in Tokyo, so much so that bookmakers gave him odds around 1.70, absolutely certain he would return from Japan with a medal.

Croatia no longer has a representative in Tokyo and has won a total of eight medals. 

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Saturday, 7 August 2021

Croatia Women's Olympic Marathon Runners Take 21st and 53rd Place in Sapporo

August 7, 2021 - On Saturday, two Croatia women's Olympic marathon runners competed in Sapporo, finishing 21st and 53rd place. 

Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir won the Olympic gold medal in the marathon held in Sapporo, while Matea Parlov Koštro took 21st and Bojana Bjeljac 53rd out of the two Croatian representatives that competed, reports HRT.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to move marathon and walking races from Tokyo to northern Sapporo to avoid the summer heat in the Japanese capital. But on Friday, a temperature of 35 degrees Celsius was measured in Sapporo, the same as in Tokyo.

Therefore, the start of Saturday’s marathon was at 6 am local time to avoid the heat. However, the start of the marathon was below 25 degrees and 84% humidity. Two hours later, at 8 am, it was already 29 degrees with 69% humidity.

88 girls appeared at the start, including two Croatian representatives, Matea Parlov Koštro and Bojana Bjeljac.

The track was circular and ran three laps, 22 km, 10 km, and 10 km.

Bjeljac, with a result of 2:27:42 from Valencia in 2019, had the 47th reported result, and Matea Parlov Koštro, with 2:28:52 from Valencia in 2020, had the 72nd result among the 88 girls. The Olympic norm was 2:29:30.

Bjeljac started better and by the middle of the track was ahead of Parlov Koštro, and both were between 40th and 50th position. But Matea was great in the second part of the race. At one point, she broke through to 18th place, and in the end, she finished the marathon in 21st place with a result of 2:33.18, while Bjeljac took 53rd place with a time of 2:39.32.

Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir won gold with a time of 2:27.20, 16 seconds ahead of compatriot Brigid Kosgei, while in third was American Molly Seidel, 26 seconds behind.

Israeli Lonah Chemta Salpeter also fought for the medal up to four kilometers before the finish line but broke at 38 km. In the end, she somehow finished the race in 66th place.

World champion Ruth Chepngetich also hoped for a medal, but she gave up after 33 km.

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Friday, 6 August 2021

Tokyo Olympics: Croatia Defeats Montenegro 12:10, Advances to 5th Place Match on Sunday

August 6, 2021 - Croatia defeats Montenegro in the 5th-8th place playoffs on Friday. Croatia will meet the winner between Italy and the USA in the match for 5th place on Sunday. 

The Croatia water polo team met Montenegro in the playoffs for 5th to 8th place at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Friday.

After the quarterfinal defeat to Hungary, Croatia has to play two more games for the 5th to 8th place. The first was today against Montenegro, who lost to Greece in the quarterfinals. 

Croatia led the 1st quarter 1:0, while Montenegro came back in the 2nd which ended 5:4 for Croatia. In the 3rd quarter, Croatia and Montenegro were even, ending with 3 goals each. The score going into the final quarter was 9:7 for Croatia. 

Croatia and Montenegro were equal in the final quarter at 3:3 for the final score of 12:10. 

Croatia has already played against Montenegro in Tokyo, recording a victory in the group (13:8), but then it was an important game in the fight to get to the quarterfinals and the stakes were high. Playing for the ranking is something completely different, and after being eliminated in the quarterfinals, the motivation is certainly lower.

Croatia thus plays for 5th place on Sunday against the winner between Italy and the USA. Montenegro will play for 7th place.

"These are now the two worst games ahead of us. They bring nothing, they mean nothing, but we have to play them. We have to try to give as much as we can and try to win. There will be wishes, but we will see how good it will be on both sides," said Barracuda captain Andro Bušlje.

"I don't see the point of all that, we are the only collective sport that plays from the fifth to the eighth place. Unfortunately, the rules are like that and it is our duty to do it to the end," said coach Ivica Tucak.

The semifinal matches are scheduled today in which Greece and Hungary will meet (8:30) and Serbia and Spain (12:50).

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 5 August 2021

Croatian Referee Sanja Rođak-Karšić to Assist in Olympic Women's Football Final

August 5, 2021 - Sanja Rođak-Karšić is the highest-ranking referee in Croatia (1.HNL) in the category 'assistant referees - 1st group'. These are her second Olympic Games after she previously refereed in Rio 2016.

The Olympic women's football final in Tokyo between Sweden and Canada is scheduled for Friday (August 6) at 4 am Croatia time, and there will be a Croatian touch, reports 24 Sata

Namely, the 3rd referee of the match will be Podravske Sesvete native, Sanja Rođak-Karšić (38). The main referee will be Russian Anastasia Pustovidova, while the 2nd referee will be her compatriot Ekaterina Kurochkina.

Rođak-Karšić is the highest-ranking referee in Croatia (1.HNL) in the category 'assistant referees- 1st group', and these are her second Olympic Games after she previously judged in Rio 2016.

In 2020, the Croatian refereed the Champions League final at Anoeta in San Sebastian between Wolfsburg and Lyon, and she refereed the same teams in the final two years earlier in Kyiv.

Rođak-Karšić has already refereed at both the World and European Championships, including the final of the 2017 Euros in the Netherlands. Sanja made waves in Croatia when she became the first woman to referee the Croatian Football Cup final. She first entered the Croatian football scene as the first assistant referee at the HAŠK and Osijek Cup match. A few days later, she was part of the refereeing team in the Croatian First League match between Lokomotiva and Osijek, where she assisted the main referee of the match, Bruno Marić.

The Olympic final will feature Sweden, who celebrated 1:0 against Australia in the semifinal, while Canada shocked the favored U.S.A team with the same result.

FIFA released a list of 99 referees from 51 countries to feature in the Olympic football tournaments, including 29 match officials, 50 assistants, 20 VAR referees, and four additional referees. 

Although Croatia does not have a representative in football at the Olympic Games this year, the country, and especially Podravina, will still be represented on the largest sports platform in the world. 

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Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Hungary Wins Olympic Quarterfinal, No Medal for Croatia Water Polo in Tokyo

August 4, 2021 - A shock in Tokyo as Hungary defeated Croatia in the final quarterfinal match in Tokyo on Wednesday. Croatia water polo is thus out of the Olympic medal fight. 

The Croatia water polo team met Hungary on Wednesday for a spot in the semifinals of the Olympic Games. The winner will play against Greece, who easily defeated Montenegro in the earlier semifinal match. 

Croatia achieved three victories in Group B (Kazakhstan, Serbia, Montenegro) and two defeats (Australia, Spain), taking second place behind Spain.

1st Quarter

Croatia won the first sprint of the match for the Croatia attack, which was shot wide by Jokovic. Bijač saved Hungary's first attack to keep the scoresheet clean. Vukičević scored Croatia's first goal for 1:0 with 6:34 to go. Bijač saved Hungary's next attack, and Vargas hit the post straight after to keep Croatia ahead. Varga hit the post and after 2 back-to-back saves from Bijač, Hungary finally equalized with less than 5 mins on the clock. 

Bukić's goal was called back for shooting too close to the goal, and the match remained 1:1 with less than 3 minutes left. Bukić got his chance soon after to put Croatia back in the lead for 2:1 with 2:22 left. 

Varga scored for 2:2 with 1:15 to go. Obradović put Croatia back in the lead with 45 seconds on the clock. The 1st quarter ended 3:2 for Croatia. 

2nd Quarter 

Croatia won the sprint again to start the 2nd quarter, but Hungary was the one to successfully attack and equalized at 3:3. Hungary took the lead for the first time with 5:35 left - 3:4. Joković was quick to equalize for 4:4 20 seconds later! 

Bukić put Croatia back in the lead for 5:4 with just over 4 minutes to go, but Croatia and Hungary played goal for goal, and Hungary equalized for 5:5 with 3:43 left. 

Bijač saved Croatia from another Hungary goal with 2 minutes left, and Hungary shot over the goal in their next attack. But. Croatia was unsuccessful in their next attack with one minute left. 

Hungary retook the lead with 46 seconds left - 5:6. Obradović missed Croatia's next extra-man play with 16 seconds left. Hungary scored for the +2 lead going into halftime. 

3rd Quarter

Croatia lost the sprint to open the 3rd quarter and fortunately scored for 6:7 after the referee consulted VAR to rule Bukić's goal over the goal line. 

Hungary retook the +2 lead again for 6:8 with 5:45 to go. Obradović returned with a goal for 7:8! Bijač saved Hungary's next attack, and Miloš equalized for 8:8 with 3:49 left!

Hungary retook the lead for 8:9 with 3:18 to go. It was 8:10 for Hungary with 1:47 to go. Croatia could not capitalize on their next attack. 

It was +3 for Hungary in the final seconds of the 3rd quarter - 8:11. 

4th Quarter 

Croatia failed to score on their first two attacks of the final quarter, and Hungary scored for +4 - 8:12. Fatović scored to restore some hope for 9:12 with 5 minutes to go. Hungary quickly returned for 9:13. Lončar scored for 10:13 with 4:16 left in the match. 

Hungary scored for +4 with 3 minutes to go. Bukić made it 11:14 with 2:36 left. Vrlić missed a clean shot in front of the goal with just over a minute to go, killing Croatia's last hope of coming back. The game ended 11:15 for Hungary. 

Croatia will now play for 5th-8th place at the Olympic Games. 

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Wednesday, 4 August 2021

No Olympic Bronze Medal for Croatian Wrestler Ivan Huklek

August 4, 2021 - Croatian wrestler Ivan Huklek fought in the Olympic bronze medal match in the 87 kg category in Tokyo on Wednesday.  

Ivan Huklek, 24, failed to win the bronze medal at the Games in Tokyo in the 87kg category, where he was defeated 6-1 by naturalized Serbian Zurab Datunashvili.

The three-time and current European champion, who started wrestling under the Serbian flag in 2019, gained a 6-0 advantage in a minute and a half in the first round. Datunashvili brought Huklek to the ground from the counterattack and made three consecutive throws for two points.

In the second round, Huklek managed to earn only one point on the passivity of Datunashvili, and when he got the opportunity to fight on the ground, he failed. 

Huklek was the second wrestler to get the opportunity to fight for an Olympic medal under the Croatian flag, but he, like Božo Starčević in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, lost the fight for the bronze medal.

This was Datunashvili's third appearance at the Olympic Games, and he won a medal for the first time. When he wrestled for his native Georgia, he won seventh place in 2012 in London in the 74kg category, and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro he was 18th in the 75kg category. Datunashvili won the bronze medal fight in a rematch. 

This medal would have been the first Olympic medal for Croatian wrestling since independence, and the third for Croatian wrestlers. Vlado Lisjak won the Olympic title at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, while Josip Čorak won silver at the 1972 Munich Games.

Ivan Huklek won 5-3 against American John Walter Stefanowicz and Uzbekistan's Rustam Asakalov 4-1 on Wednesday, before losing 1-7 to Ukrainian Jean Belenyuk in the semifinals, while Datunashvili defeated Algerian Bachira Sid Azara 5-1 in the repechage after a loss to Belenyuk in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

Datunashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and played for that country until 2018, when he changed his citizenship and has since represented Serbia.

Belenjuk and Hungarian Viktor Lorincz will fight for gold in Tokyo.

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