ZAGREB, 21 December 2009 – At the Great Day of Croatian Sport awards ceremony, high jumper Blanka Vlasic and sailor Ivan Kljakovic-Gaspic received the Athletes of the Year Awards by the Croatian Olympic Committee. Croatia's women's table tennis team and the men's handball team were awarded as the best teams in 2009.
ZAGREB, 21 December 2009 – At the Great Day of Croatian Sport awards ceremony, high jumper Blanka Vlasic and sailor Ivan Kljakovic-Gaspic received the Athletes of the Year Awards by the Croatian Olympic Committee. Croatia's women's table tennis team and the men's handball team were awarded as the best teams in 2009. "These are tough times, but not for Croatian athletes, of whom we must be very proud for all their achievements in 2009. Our athletes won 415 medals in men's, women's and junior categories this year. And as many as 70 athletes from 28 sports were nominated for the awards tonight." said President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Zlatko Matesa. The annual Great Day of Croatian Sport ceremony, which marks the recognition of the umbrella organization of Croatian sports by the International Olympic Committee, held at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, started with a large applause to table tennis player Sandra Paovic, who returned to Croatia and attended the ceremony 11 months after being seriously injured in a car accident. An especially emotional moment was when her team mates, while receiving their Best Team of the Year Award for winning the European bronze medal, thanked Sandra from the stage. The best men's team, the handball team, silver medallists from the 2009 World Championship held in Croatia, also dedicated their award to her. Blanka Vlasic was awarded as the best athlete for the second time in a row and she admitted that she really received it "with gusto" this year. She was also awarded as the best promoter of Croatia in the world. "Everything was in a way incomplete after the Beijing Games last year and I didn't feel well receiving this award on this stage. Now everything is well-earned, I am enjoying it and I hope that such a good year will be repeated", said the High Jump World Champion. Ivan Kljakovic-Gaspic received the Best Male Athlete Award for the first time; this sailor from the city of Split won European gold and World bronze in the Finn class in 2009. The Croatia's Most Promising Athletes Awards went to the European Junior Women's Discus Champion Sandra Perkovic and European Junior Boxing Champion Dino Mansour. The Coach of the Year Award went to Blanka Vlasic's coaching duo Josko Vlasic and Bojan Marinovic. The highest Croatian Olympic Committee award, which bears the name of the famous late canoeist Matija Ljubek, went to basketball coach Boris Sinkovic, handball coach and referee Lujo Gyoeri, football coach and retired Croatian Supreme Court judge Stanko Hautz, as well as to the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb and the Borovo Boxing Club from Vukovar. The highest authority in the fight against doping in Croatia Bozidar Fuckar received the Sport and the Fight against Doping IOC Trophy, while the former director of the Umag ATP Tournament Slavko Rasberger received the Croatian Olympic Committee's special recognition for the promotion of sport. The Croatian Olympic Committee's recognition for the sports venture of the year went to the Croatian female Mt. Everest expedition team and Zadar football player Marko Raso was awarded the fair play recognition for administering first aid to referee Vlado Svilokos, who collapsed on the pitch during the Croatian Indoor Championship in Zadar.