Well, Croatia’s Olympic Games 2016 certainly surpassed my wildest dreams – the team doubled its medal count since my last article about it last week. By the time Olympic competitions were finished Croatia had built up an impressive total of 10 medals: 5 Gold 3 Silver and 2 Bronze! Wow – using medals per capita as criteria this amazing number places Croatia on top of the world !
The 5 gold medals ranked Croatia 3rd in the world for gold medals per capita. Croatia’s performance was an impressive one for a nation of only 4.2 million people, leaving bigger nations like Canada, Greece, Argentina, Sweden, Poland and Turkey in their wake on the final medal table. When looking how Europe performed in Rio, Croatia finished 9th but 1st on medal per capita equation.
So, since my article last week on Olympic success these are the other fabulous Croats reveling in well-deserved glory.
Thursday 18 August 2016 Croatia’s Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic won the men’s 470 gold. They went into the race with a 10-point lead and were never threatened, with their nearest rivals finishing behind them. Australia’s Matt Belcher and Will Ryan claimed silver, while Greece’s Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis took the bronze medal.
It was Thursday 18 August 2016 also when Croatia’s Sara Kolak threw a personal best and national record to land an unexpected gold in the Rio 2016 Olympic women’s javelin final. The 21-year-old Croat, who also broke the national record in the qualifying rounds, clinched the title with her fourth attempt, throwing 66.18m to secure victory by 1.26m from South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen. The bronze went to Czech Republic’s Barbora Spotakova, the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 champion, who went into the competition harbouring dreams of becoming the first woman to win three consecutive gold medals in the same individual athletics event. A bronze medalist at the 2016 European Championships, Kolak was something of an outsider for gold, with most of the attention heading into the competition focused on the 35-year-old Spotakova’s attempt to make history. In the end, the Czech had to settle for bronze with a best throw of 64.80m, with Kolak emulating Sandra Perkovic in the women’s discus to win her country’s second track and field gold of Rio 2016.
“It is a big surprise,” said the victorious Kolak. “It feels amazing. It’s what I have been working for my whole life. I am 21 and I’m an Olympic champion. I did everything I could and I am so proud of myself. When I woke up this morning I was ready for a fight, a fair fight like never before. I wanted to give it everything I had and show everyone that qualification meant little. I wanted more.”
Croatia’s Water Polo Men team had some real talent at this year’s Olympic games: Josip PAVIC, Damir BURIC, Antonio PETKOVIC, Luka LONCAR, Maro JOKOVIC, Luka BUKIC, Andro BUSLJE, Sandro SUKNO, Andelo SETKA, Marko BIJAC, Ivan KRAPIC, Marko MACAN, Javier GARCIA GADEA. On Saturday 20 August 2016 Croatia played against Serbia in the race for Olympic gold. The two teams that face each other regularly and know each other inside, out, in Rio both got off to a slow start but tore through their opponents over the second half of the tournament to meet each other in yet another final. Serbia was the stronger side on Saturday. Croatia opened the third quarter with a goal by Damir Buric to narrow Serbia’s lead to 6-4, but things never really went Croatia’s way and despite the stars being against them the Croat champions came away with grand silver. What an amazing effort!
32-year-old Croatian Blanka Vlasic has claimed the bronze medal in the women’s high jump at the Rio Olympics on Saturday evening 20 August 2016. This particular bronze medal is more than a commendable accomplishment bearing in mind the horrific injury problems she has experienced in recent times. Vlasic had just returned from injury and has not had much competition this season, cleared 1.97 metres to come third in the final of the event at Rio. Wow! Blanka, who already has an Olympic silver medal (2008) and two World Championships (2007 & 2009), was one of only four jumpers to clear 1.97 metres. The Croatian cleared it on her second attempt to move into third place. Vlasic, like the rest of the four final jumpers, however was unable to clear the next level of 2.00 metres and had to settle for bronze. Gold medal went to Spain’s Ruth Beitia who jumped 1.97 on her first attempt, whilst Mirela Demireva from Bulgaria took out the silver.
Croatian boxer Filip Hrgović won his quarterfinal match of the Olympic super-heavyweight boxing category on Tuesday August 16th 2016. He beat Leiner Eunice Pero in dying seconds of the second round knocking him out with a powerful right jab. Filip Hrgovic was close to getting to the finals of Olympic super-heavyweight boxing tournament, but in a tight match versus the World Champion Tony Yoka, the judges have decided that the Frenchman was better for a point (2:1). Earlier this year Hrgovic won gold at the European championship in Bulgaria becoming the second Croat to win a European boxing title and the first Croat to win gold since Mate Parlov, who won gold in 1971 and 1973. Filip Hrgovic is the first Croatian boxer who can boast to be the first Croat boxer winning an Olympic medal since Croatia’s declaration od independence a quarter of a century ago. And on that note an huge congratulations to the sports men and women of Croatia – what an exhilarating effort you’ve put in this time around. A world citizen indeed! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)