Zagreb, October 18, 2019 -At the premises of the Croatian Ministry of Defense (CMD) which, in cooperation with the Croatian Olympic Committee (COC), implements the Top Athletes Support Program, ensuring them the status of contractual reservists of Croatian Army (CA), gathered 28 of total 41 beneficiaries of the Program, among them a dozen Olympians for Tokyo 2020. Vice-President of the Croatian Government and Minister of Defense Damir Krstičević, Chief of General Staff Mirko Šundov and Croatian Olympic Committee’s Vice President  Sanda Čorak thanked them on great results in 2019 whereby they promoted both the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Army.

The Minister of Defense congratulated top athletes on the achieved results, emphasizing that with their hard work, achievements and talent, they represent Croatia and its winning army in the best possible way. The reserve composition of the Croatian Army currently counts 41 top athletes.

- With you the Croatian Army gets an additional value and a new dimension of excellence essential for all the challenges to come. May your hard work and dedication be an inspiration to all members of the victorious Croatian Army, to which we wish – as well as you – never to be satisfied with average results, but always to strive for excellence - said Krstičević to top athletes.

He stressed that in 2019 the number of places for top athletes was increased from 31 to the current 42 places (41 places filled) and added that this trend will continue. Krstičević also recalled that in the last three years there have been intense investments in development of sports infrastructure, the construction of new and renovation of existing gyms, tartan trails and sports grounds (HVU Zagreb, Lora Split, Petrinja...), and unique sports equipment has been purchased for all the members of the Croatian army.

Speaking about sports in the Croatian Army since its founding, the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Major Mirko Šundov pointed out that persistence, success and discipline are common both to top athletes and good soldiers.

- By maintaining physical preparedness, we maintain and improve every other aspect of preparedness, both personal and collective. Sport forms consistent, enduring and motivated individuals able to respond to all challenges they face with - said General Šundov.

Croatian Olympic Committee’s Vice President Sanda Čorak thanked the CMD and the Croatian Army for successful cooperation, and said that examples from other countries prove that this is an outstanding concept of employment that allows athletes to feel safe and to have support, enabling also the promotion of Croatia and the Croatian Army.

Tin Srbić, creator of the latest Croatian sports venture - gymnastics silver at the World Championships in Sttutgart - thanked him on behalf of all the top athletes.

- This is a very good concept for both us athletes and for the CMD. It gives us support, but also the opportunity to represent the Croatian Army on the global level. I use every occasion to say that I am a part of the Croatian Army and that I am proud of it...

The brothers Martin and Valent Sinković stated that the Defense Ministry's support is not only a great honor, but also a motivation.

- Our greatest contribution to the Croatian Army is to promote healthy living and active sports with the aim of psychological and physical health of a man. We also held a motivational speech on Sljeme, and in November we will give the cadets of the Croatian Military Academy a presentation of a way to success - said Martin Sinković.

The Model of employing top athletes at the Ministry of Defense began developing in 2010, following the positive experiences of European countries in employment of top male and female athletes in state-owned companies and institutions, and it was further developed by the Agreement on Cooperation, Improvement and Development of Sports in Croatia, signed on February 27, 2015 by the Croatian Ministry of Defense and the Croatian Olympic Committee. (COC/VK)