Barcelona was a "double struggle" for Croatia's athletes: first, for the right to participate, which they gained when the Croatian Olympic Committee was recognised on 17 January 1992, despite the trials, which were already underway, and almost over in some sports, and also the struggle to achieve the best results possible, preferably win medals.

Eventually, they won both struggles. The men's basketball team, who qualified in an additional Olympic qualifications tournament, reached the final, where they met Team USA, the famous Dream Team featuring the greatest NBA stars. It was the first time that NBA professional players were allowed to participate in the Olympic Games and this placed the men's basketball tournament in Barcelona in the limelight of international sports attention. This is how the Croatian team played: in the first game of Group A, they easily defeated Brazil 93-76, lost to the USA 70-103, defeated Spain 88-77, Germany 99-78 and Angola 73-64. In the quarter-final against Australia, Croatia won by a wide margin 98-65, but the real drama unfolded in the semi-final game against the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States founded after the breakup of the USSR). Only a minute before the end of the game, the CIS was leading by six points. Dino Rađa reduced it to 70-74, and the CIS players failed to score on the following offense. 30 seconds before the end, Toni Kukoč brought Croatia back into the game by scoring a three-point shot and reducing the score to 73-74. Nine seconds before the end, Croatia's captain Dražen Petrović was holding the ball, when a foul was committed on him. The legendary captain set the final score of 75-74 from two free shots and led Croatia to the final against the USA. The outstanding game, in which Croatia was leading 25-23 at one point, ended in the U.S. victory 117-85. This was the beginning of a great Croatian sports fairy tale. Goran Ivanišević and Goran Prpić were Croatia's first athletes to receive an Olympic (bronze) medal in Barcelona – they finished third in the men's tennis doubles. After that, Ivanišević also won the bronze medal in the men's singles. To win the medal, Ivanišević played four matches on clay and won each of them in five sets. Marc Rosset, who was to become the Olympic Champion, defeated him in the semi-final 3-6, 5-7, 2-6. On the way to the semi-final, Goran first defeated Portugal's representative Mota 6-2, 6-2, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3 and then Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands 6-7, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round. Ivanišević also defeated Czech-born Swiss player Jakob Hlasek 3-6, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 and 9-7 and then Fabrice Santoro of France 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 8-6 in the quarter-final. Ivanišević's bronze medal was the first individual Olympic medal for the independent country of Croatia and it went down in Croatia's recent sports history. To achieve that, Goran had to play on the clay surface of the Vall d'Hebron Stadium for long 14 hours and 6 minutes. In the doubles tournament, Ivanišević and Prpić defeated Haarhuis and Kovermans of the Netherlands 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round, Indonesia's Suharyadia and Wiryawan 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the eight-final and India's Krishnan and Paes 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the quarter-final. In the semi-final, Ivanišević and Prpić lost to the silver medallists Ferreira and Norval of the Republic of South Africa 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.