The greatest Croatian Olympic Committee’s award Matija Ljubek 2017 was presented to Zrinko Gregurek and Dragutin Šurbek from Zagreb, Zvjezdana Tuma Pavlov from Osijek, Vlaho Asić from Split and the Sports-Fishing Association Priroda Vinkovci for a remarkable contribution to the development of sports in Croatia.
Zrinko Gregurek (Zagreb)
Born on July 14, 1954 in Zagreb. In his active sports career, from 1968 to 1981, he was a basketball player in the clubs Medveščak and Jedinstvo. Upon completion of the Faculty of Kinesiology, being awarded the title of a basketball coach, he continued working in the said clubs. He confirmed his extraordinary versatility as a ski and diving instructor, but his sports passion was most reflected in auto racing. He was a multiple national champion, judge and a credible official, firstly as a Secretary at the AMD Zanatlija and afterwards in the auto-moto associations.
From 1994 to 2001 he was the Head of the Zagreb Auto-Moto Federation and – as one the founders of the Central European Zone of the same sport, he was also its president from 1992 to 2009. For the past 20 years, he has been serving as Secretary General of the Croatian Car and Karting Federation, building through these two decades also an enviable international career. As one of the highest ranked Croatian sports officials worldwide, these days he was selected for the third time for the World Motor Sport Council of the International Automobile Federation. Along with this membership, from 2009 until today, he has been active as professional lecturer at the seminars of the International Automobile Association, honored by the flattering status of the Formula 1 Ambassador. In his career as a judge, he did not only stay at the national level but reached the highest international level - Platinum license for car and karting sports - by participating in more than 400 competitions.
He has received numerous awards for his work, including two life awards - the Zagreb Sports Federation 1999 and the Croatian Auto and Karting Association in 2016.
In the current mandate by 2020 Zrinko Gregurek is a member of the Council and president of the Croatian Olympic Committee's neolithic sports.
Dragutin Šurbek (Zagreb)
Born on August 8, 1946 in Zagreb. He started playing table tennis as early as in the elementary school in January 1955, and his first club was STK Poštar. In 1964 he became a member of the national team and shortly thereafter he joined the STK Grafičar, later renamed to the Grafički stolnoteniski klub Vjesnik Zagreb. This was the most successful period of Šurbek's career, adorned with victories in three European Champions Cups (1973, 1974 and 1976) and two World Cups in 1970 and 1972 (he managed to achieve the same with Saarbrücken in 1982).
In the period from 1977 to 1993, Šurbek played in the German clubs Calw, Saarbrücken and Esslingen and in the first season of his return to the homeland, he was defending the colors of the Osijek’s club Vodovod. He has spent eight years in Industrogradnja - from 1994 to 2002, the next four in Dubrovnik's Libertas and the farewell club season of his brilliant career in STK Vukovar.
Young Šurbek achieved his first real international venture in France. He returned from Lyon in 1968 with the title of an Individual European Champion. Afterwards, he achieved many victories at numerous international tournaments on all continents. He triumphed 112 times, 42 times he was winner in Singles, 32 times in Mixed Pairs, four times in Mixed Doubles and 34 times in Team competitions. Many say that Dragutin Šurbek is the greatest Croatian blacksmith of medals. His impressive collection features 36 medals of different colors and sizes. He owns 14 medals from the World Championships (two gold, two silver and ten bronze medals) and 22 European Championships (five gold, five silver and 12 bronze medals). He won 30 titles of the former state, and those of the Individual Champion in 1965, 1972, 1975 and 1976, followed by 34 titles of the Croatian Champion.
Šurbek defended the colors of the European team in the match with Japan in 1969 and he was the oldest participant of Barcelona Olympics 1992 when he played in pairs with Zoran Primorac. He was also successful at veteran tournaments, so in 1988 he became the Individual World Champion at the World Championships in Zagreb.
He was awarded the title of table tennis coach in long gone 1975, and in his academic upgrading he became an expert specialist - table tennis coach (2008) and master of sports management in 2013. Of many duties he has performed, the leading position at the Croatian Table Tennis Federation (2007) and at the Zagreb Table Tennis Association - whose president he is today - should be emphasized. He was the Athlete of the Year of the former state and five times the Best Athlete in Croatia. Šurbek is one of only three athletes that were presented the former country's greatest state award (the AVNOJ Award), and in 1995 he was awarded the Order of Danica Hrvatska (Croatian Morningstar) with the figure of Franjo Bučar. In addition to the trophies, it is important to mention that many of Šurbek’s matches belong to the anthology of table tennis.
Zvjezdana Tuma – Pavlov (Osijek)
Born on March 10, 1954 in Osijek. She began practicing sports in 1968 at the Osijek’s Volleyball club Željezničar. Since the very beginning, she has managed to successfully combine her sports career with the education, being awarded the title of LLB at the Law Faculty of the University of Osijek.
This academic status directed Tuma Pavlov into sports officials’ office, where she has been active for more than twenty years. From 1994 to 1996 she returned to the club of her active sports career, becoming a member of the Executive Board of the OK Željezničar. Three years later she took the leading position of the Athletics club Slavonija – Žito and her constant re-election to the same position speaks much of her success as its head, serving now in the sixth term. Since 2008, she has been serving as President of the Sports Association of Osijek-Baranja County, where he also managed to gain a long-term trust, and she entered the third presidential term. For twelve years (from 1996 to 2008) she served as the President of the City of Osijek’s Association of Sports Communities Supervisory Board, from 2012 to 2016 she was in the Executive Board of the said Association and currently she is a member of the Assembly for the third term.
In terms of sports on national level, Zvjezdana Tuma – Pavlov has been active since 2000. She has been a member of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Supervisory Board for five years (from 2000 to 2005) and she is a continuous member of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Council, now in her fourth term.
For her merits in sports she was presented several awards, such as the one by the City of Osijek’s Association of Sports Communities on the occasion of the Association’s 50th anniversary in 2011 and special recognition by Glas Slavonije for being a member of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Delegation at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Vlaho Asić (Split)
Born on August 22, 1936 in Split where 11 years later he got involved in swimming and water polo. During his eighth-year-long membership in VK Jadran, he was a swimmer for three years, and in the next five – a water polo player. In season 1955/1956 he played for the Belgrade’s club Partizan. After returning to Split, for the first three years he was a member of VK Mornar (1956-1959), then for seven more years (from 1959 to 1966) he was wearing the POŠK cap. He won two titles of the former state Champion, in 1954 and 1956. In nearly two decades of active career, he was at the top of the world's water polo for 14 years.
Upon completion of his active career, this by profession sanitary engineer turned to coaching, where he stayed for more than 30 years. He passed the course for water polo instructor in 1953, and for the water polo coach and judge in 1959. For the results achieved, he was promoted to a senior sports coach. On several occasions he coached Split clubs Jadran and POŠK, and in the period 1987-1992 the Italian club Volturano. Of the coaching trophies, particularly valuable are the European titles in the Champions Cup (1992) and in the Cup Winners' Cup (1981).
From 1971 to 1984, Asić was a permanent member of the coaching staff at the Water Polo Federation of the former state and from 1980 to 1983 he was serving as the President of the Staff. He successfully led all the ages - cadets, juniors, students as well as A and B national teams. He continued his coaching and pedagogical work in the independent Croatia. He was the Head of the Croatian Water Polo Federation from 2003 to 2015.
He raised and promoted into top athletes many young water polo players including Milivoj Bebić, Deni Lušić, Mislav Bezmalinović, Damir Polić and many other future Olympic and World medalists.
Vlaho Asić is the initiator of VK Veteran-70 and its active player until 2004. In addition to being a multiple world veteran champion in several age categories, VK Veteran has become a significant promoter of water polo in the world. He is the bearer of the former state’s medal as well as of the Republic of Croatia, and in 1980 and 1981 he was awarded as the most successful water polo coach of the former state. He is one of the few professionals who are active in sports for 67 years, from 1969 to the present day - being constantly by the edge of the pool.
Sports-Fishing Association Priroda Vinkovci
The Association was founded in 1921 and has been responsible for the flora and fauna of the Bosut river and its tributaries since 1927. The members of Priroda were in 1935 among the founders of the Federation of Croatian Fishing Associations (Savska Banovina), the predecessor of today's Croatian Sport Fishing Federation.
They were the first in the country to establish sections of children up to 14 years of age, organize the first Croatian Children's Fishing Championships and to build the first home for fishermen’s children in 1960. The competitors from SRD Nature have performed in the third, second and first Croatian league and for 50 years they have participated in national cadet, juniors and senior teams. This year they performed at 30 competitions.
In the abundance of previous recognitions of the SRD Priroda, it is necessary to highlight the City of Vinkovci Award in 1968, the Golden Badge of the Croatian Sport Fishing Federation in 1996, the State Environmental Award (Ministry of Environmental Protection) 1997, the Green Environmental Charter of Vukovar-Srijem County 2002 and the Golden Coat of Arms of the City of Vinkovci in 2011. In addition, individual members of the association are the winners of the highest recognitions of the City, County and State for merits in sports and environmental protection.