Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Tokyo Olympics: Serbia and Australia Potential Croatia Basketball Rivals

February 2, 2021 - If the Croatia basketball team qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, they could face Serbia and Australia in Group B!

HRT reports that IF they manage to qualify for the Olympic Games at the tournament in Split, the Croatia basketball team will play in Group B in Tokyo together with Australia, Nigeria, and the winner of the qualifying tournament in Belgrade, where the Serbia national team is the biggest favorite. This news was announced after a draw was held at the International Basketball Federation in Mies, Switzerland.

Croatia, Tunisia, and Brazil will meet in the group stage of the qualifying tournament in Split in June, which crosses over with Germany, Russia, and Mexico. The Split tournament and the other three hosted by Belgrade, Kaunas, and Victoria in Canada are scheduled from June 29 to July 4, 2021. Only one winner qualifies from each tournament, 

The competition format has changed in Tokyo, in both the men’s and women’s competition. Instead of how it was previously held, in which 12 national teams were divided into two groups of six, where the four best from the group stage continued to compete in the quarterfinals by a knockout system, the new system divides the teams into three groups of four.

The first two national teams from each of the three groups will advance to the quarterfinals and will be joined by the two best of the three third-placed teams. With this system, each match of the group stage becomes even more important, and to win an Olympic medal, it is now necessary to play six instead of the previous eight matches.

FIBA tried to distribute the quality among the groups evenly for this draw. Thus, in Group A, the US national team will fight for their fourth consecutive Olympic gold in Tokyo against France, Iran, and the winner of the qualifying tournament in Canada. The biggest favorites are Greece, along with Canada, the Czech Republic, and Turkey.

Group C boasts the current world champions and runners-up, Spain and Argentina, host Japan, and the winner of the qualifying tournament in Kaunas, where Lithuania is the biggest favorite. However, Slovenia is right up there if they have their strongest team.

The qualification process for the female basketball players has been completed. The draw has determined that South Korea, Serbia, Canada, and Spain will compete in Group A. Group B will consist of Nigeria, Japan, France, and the United States. Group C will include Australia, Puerto Rico, China, and Belgium.

The basketball competitions at the Tokyo Olympics will begin on July 25, two days after the grand opening, and will end on August 8, the last day of the Games.

Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament Group Draw:

Group A: Iran, France, USA, KT Winner (Victoria)

Group B: Australia, KT Winner (Split), KT Winner (Belgrade), Nigeria

Group C: Argentina, Japan, Spain, KT Winner (Kaunas)

Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament Group Draw
Group A: South Korea, Serbia, Canada, Spain
Group B: Nigeria, Japan, France, USA
Group C: Australia, Puerto Rico, China, Belgium

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

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

High Jumper Blanka Vlasic Pulls Out of Tokyo Olympics

March 10, 2020 - Blanka Vlasic, one of the greatest Croatian female athletes of all time, will not compete at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Jutarnji List reports that the Split athlete and her expert staff informed the Croatian Olympic Committee that Blanka would not fight for her third Olympic medal in Japan and that she would be removed from the list of Olympic candidates. Recall, Vlasic won the silver medal in 2008 in Beijing and the bronze in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

The two-time world champion (2007 Osaka and 2009 Berlin) in the high jump and the second-best of all time with a jump of 208 centimeters (one centimeter less than the 1987 world record of Stefka Kostadinova) has not jumped since the high jump finals at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Her years of struggles with injuries did not allow her to jump at a stable level continually, so even though she is improving and getting better, she is still not ready to return to competition.

“Blanka's condition is much better,” said her father and coach Josko Vlasic. 

“The bone is no longer inflamed, the Achilles tendon is not yet well, but her general condition is fine and she is training. We estimate that continuous jumps over two meters are not a reality at this time. She will continue her career anyway, but now she does not want to sell her reputation and does not want to jump below two meters. We sent a letter to the Croatian Olympic Committee so that they could act on it.”

This will be the second Olympic Games Vlasic will miss (she also missed London 2012) since she made her debut in Sydney in 2000. Of course, this news is not unexpected given that she has not been able to recover 100% over the past three years and could not fully commit to the high jump. It is miraculous, however, that she does not consider leaving athletics after her continuous injuries, which have followed her from a very early stage in her career. Not to mention that problems with her Achilles tendon started the moment she was at the height of her career. In 2010, Vlasic was selected as the world's best athlete at a gala ceremony in Monte Carlo.

A year earlier, she defended the world title in Berlin and flew over 208 centimeters at the Hanzekovic rally in Zagreb. That year, when she was selected as the world's best female athlete, she won the only European outdoor title in Barcelona. Her dominance did not end there. However, unfortunately, in 2011, the agony with her Achilles tendon resulted in less frequent appearances.

That year, she managed to win silver after jumping 203-centimeters at the World Cup in Daegu, losing gold to Maria Kuchina (later Lasickene) due to multiple attempts. In January 2012, she had surgery on her Achilles tendon, but an infection occurred, and three months later, she had to go under the knife again. She had to miss the London Games and it was certainly not psychologically easy to bear. Her memory of the silver medal from Beijing was still fresh. Recall, Tia Hellebaut sensationally jumped 205 centimeters, just like Blanka, but the Belgian celebrated for fewer attempts.

Since then, it has more or less been a constant battle with her Achilles tendon. When she healed the one on her left leg, the problem moved to the right. Even so, Blanka still prepared for competitions and even won silver in Beijing at the 2015 World Cup and the bronze in Rio de Janeiro. In Brazil, three female athletes jumped 197 centimeters, and as it goes with the number of tries is counted, she won the bronze. The gold went to Ruth Beitia, and Mirela Demirov took the silver. It is also worth pointing out that at the Athens Games, Blanka experienced problems with her thyroid, which she later resolved with surgery.

It remains to be seen when she will return, because Blanka is not yet ready to say goodbye. At least at 36 years old, we have no doubt that Blanka will go out in style.

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

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Over 90 Croatian Athletes Expected to Compete in Tokyo Olympics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Croatia Basketball Learns Opponents for Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Split

November 27, 2019 -  The Croatia basketball team, led by coach Veljko Mrsic, will face Tunisia and Brazil in the Split qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The groups were decided in a draw held at the FIBA headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday. 

The second group, which is also played in Split, includes the national teams of Germany, Russia, and Mexico. Croatia will likely crossover with Germany or Russia. The first two teams from each group will go to the semifinals, with only the overall winner of the tournament going to the Olympics.

The qualifiers will be played in four different tournaments, each with six participants. The Olympic qualifying basketball tournaments will be played from June 23 to 28 next year, with host cities of Split, Belgrade, Kaunas, and Victoria in Canada.

Although he led the national team last summer on three continents (in Croatia, the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and the Borislav Stankovic Tournament in China), coach Veljko Mrsic will sit on the bench for the first time for an official FIBA match next February in the new qualifying round for the European Championships in 2021. However, the biggest national team exam will be next June. Coach Veljko Mrsic shares his take on the draw. 

"First of all, we have to understand the tournament in Split as a great prize and a great opportunity to promote basketball in our country, and then as an opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games," said coach Mrsic.

“The group is tough… after all, all groups are tough and there are great teams in each. The possibility of Germany is a bit aggravating, but there it is. It is difficult and too early to talk about the chances at this point because we do not know how the other teams will arrive, and we cannot be sure about our own team. What is important is that we are a team. A team that our fans can be proud of and that we can be proud of. That is the basic goal that we must work on, and all that will be one big reward."

What does Mrsic expect in Split and from Split?

“This is a solid tournament, the strongest played on Croatian ground since EuroBasket 1989 in Zagreb and I am sure that our audience will recognize this and that the Split stands will be full and that we will really have a lot of support and wind at our backs from our audience."

Eight national teams have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics next year. They are Spain, Argentina, France, Australia, the USA, Iran, Nigeria, and the host Japan.

Source: HKS

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

Friday, 15 November 2019

Croatia Basketball to Host Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Split

November 15, 2019 - Croatia Basketball will host one of the Olympic qualifying tournaments in Split from June 23 to 28, 2020. They will return to the Dalmatian capital for the first time in 21 years. 

The FIBA Executive Board decided on Friday at a meeting in Geneva that Croatia, or Split, will host one of the four qualifying tournaments for the Tokyo Olympics next summer, reports the Croatian Basketball Federation

The Olympic qualifying tournaments are one of the most important and prestigious FIBA competitions, and the winner of each of the four tournaments will secure a place at the Tokyo Olympics. As each of the 24 national teams that have qualified for the tournaments has already proven to be high quality, the tournaments will certainly be very attractive for spectators.

The Olympic qualifying tournament in Split will be held from June 23 to 28, 2020.

"This is a big deal for Croatian basketball, after Eurobasket 1989, it is the strongest and most important competition on Croatian territory and should be used to promote basketball in that region and throughout the country, and we will do our best to get our best result,” said coach Veljko Mrsic after learning the good news.

"In order to talk about the odds, however, we have to wait for the draw and see who will come and with what kind of squad. It will depend on the NBA as well, because the finalists will not be able to perform," said Mrsic. For Croatia, Mrsic would have to worry most about Ivica Zubac and the LA Clippers, as well as Croatia captain and current Utah Jazz Bojan Bogdanovic.

In addition to Croatia, the tournament organizers will be Canada (Victoria), Lithuania (Kaunas) and Serbia (Belgrade). Six teams will compete in each of the four qualifying tournaments, with only the top-ranked going to Tokyo.

The draw for qualifying Olympic tournaments will take place on November 27 in Geneva.

The following nations will play in the qualifying tournaments: Angola, Brazil, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Canada, China, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Germany, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Senegal, Slovenia, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In the men's competition, the Olympic Games have already been secured by Japan as the host and seven teams from the World Cup, including two from Europe (Spain, France), two from the Americas (USA, Argentina) and one each from Oceania (Australia), Africa (Nigeria) and Asia (Iran).

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

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

World Boxing Council Decision Crushes Olympic Dream for Filip Hrgovic

October 29, 2019 - A new decision by the World Boxing Council forces Croatian professional boxer Filip Hrgovic to make a tough decision about competing at the Tokyo Olympics next year. 

Gol.hr reports that Croatia's best boxer Filip Hrgovic, a bronze medalist at the Rio Olympics, dreamed of winning the gold medal next year in Tokyo. For that reason, he recently engaged former coach Leonard Pietra and specific staff in the boxing federation. 

"Next year is the qualifying tournament, in May, and this is the last qualifying tournament. The plan for me and my team is to go to that tournament and to qualify that way. There have been some misunderstandings about the attitude of the Croatian Olympic Committee and the Croatian Boxing Federation towards my team and me. I believe that this will be smoothed over and that everything will be arranged for me to participate in that tournament, to qualify and, God willing, win an Olympic medal, and even better, Olympic gold,” Hrgovic said in March this year.

But it seems like nothing may come of that in the end. Namely, official confirmation from the most famous boxing organization (World Boxing Council) has said that all professional boxers are threatened with a two-year suspension if they decide to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

At the 57th annual WBC convention in Cancun, Mexico, the views of organization leader Mauritius Sulaiman were confirmed, announcing a decision like this at the beginning of the month.

Sulaiman believes professionals should not fight young, underdeveloped amateurs, and therefore announced a repeat of the 1975 suspensions.

‘’We are inspired by the South Africa ban that my Father did with WBC in 1975 when we supported the efforts of Nelson Mandela to combat the horrible act of discrimination. The WBC started a ban on anyone who would participate in boxing in South Africa, supporting apartheid. So that is the inspiration and the message."

Discussing the pros who choose to fight amateurs in the Tokyo Olympics, Mauricio stressed: ‘’Well they’re simply expelled from WBC activity for two years.”

Recall, Hrgovic holds the WBC "International Champion" belt, a sort of regional title, and the third-highest in the organization.

Moving to another organization, such as the WBO, WBA, and IBF, is also not a solution for Filip as they will follow WBC decisions.

This decision also effects world champion Andy Ruiz, who considered performing for Mexico in Rio. 

Hrgovic's next match is on December 7 in Riyadh, as part of the introductory program of the big rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua.

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

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Croatia Basketball Team Invited to Compete in Olympic Qualifying Tournament

September 19, 2019 - The Croatia basketball team has been invited to play in the Olympic qualifying tournament next year thanks to their high FIBA ranking among the non-participating European teams at the World Cup in China.

Gol.hr reports that the Croatian men's basketball team received an official invitation from FIBA on Thursday to participate in the qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

At the conclusion of the World Cup in China, where Spain triumphed, eight of the 12 participants in the Tokyo Olympics are known, while 24 national teams will compete for the final four places - that is, 16 of the top-ranked teams from the World Cup and the two best-ranked FIBA teams from each of the four regions.

Croatia won the right to play thanks to their high FIBA ranking among the non-participating European teams at the World Cup in China. Croatia is ranked 14th overall and 10th in Europe. In addition to Croatia, the current European champions Slovenia, who is ranked 16th, will also play in the Olympic qualifiers.

The national teams already confirmed for the Olympic Games include Spain and France from Europe, Argentina and the USA from the Americas, Australia and Iran from Asia and Oceania, Nigeria from Africa and Japan as the host.

The World Cup teams who will fight in the qualifications include Serbia, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Greece, Russia, Germany and Turkey from Europe, Brazil, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Canada from the Americas, New Zealand from Oceania and Tunisia from Africa, and in addition to Croatia and Slovenia, Mexico and Uruguay from the Americas, Angola and Senegal from Africa and China and South Korea from Asia were also invited.

These 24 teams will be divided into four groups of six teams, and the group winners will qualify for the 2020 Olympics. 

The qualifying tournament is scheduled for June 23-30 next year.

The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 24 to August 9 next year.

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

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Nine Croatian Athletes Already Qualified for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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