Zagreb, December 19, 2019 - At the traditional ceremony of the Great Day of Croatian Sports held at the Crystal Hall of the Westin hotel in Zagreb, the Croatian Olympic Committee (HOO) recalled the greatest successes of our female and male athletes in the year soon to end. For the 25th time the Croatian Olympic Committee has selected the athlete (s) of the year, and it all started in January 1995 by rewarding the most successful athletes in the previous year. The festive atmosphere in Westin was adorned by numerous prominent figures, including representatives of governmental authority’s highest officials, as well as the City of Zagreb and two ambassadors - Her Excellency Misako Kaji of Japan and Her Excellency Xu Erwen of China.
In his welcoming speech, the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Zlatko Mateša emphasized the large number of performances of our male and female athletes in the upcoming year and added:
- Today, we have 125 candidates for the Tokyo Olympics, and the figure is still not final. We can truly be proud of our athletes...
Croatian Olympic Committee’s Secretary General Josip Čop illustrated sports success in 2019 through the number of medals won.
- By December 10, 2019, Croatian male and female athletes competed at 138 World Championships, 185 European Championships, 111 World and 59 European Cups and won a total of 384 medals, of which 119 gold, 101 silver and 164 bronze. In addition, in the same period, our male and female athletes also achieved 291 placements from 4th to 8th place - said Čop, adding that there are more than 500 athletes in the Croatian Olympic Committee’s development programs, with 94 coaches.
The umbrella association of the Croatian sports proclaimed and awarded the laureates in six categories: the Most Successful Male Athlete, Female Athlete, Team, Crew, Relay or Couple and the Most Successful Coach. Other valuable awards were presented as well, including the Matija Ljubek Award, awarded by the Croatian Olympic Committee as the Lifetime Achievement Award.
For the eighth consecutive time (from 2012 to 2019), the Most Successful Female Athlete is the Athletic Diva Sandra Perković, world bronze medalist at the Doha IAAF World Athletics Championships.
- I’m not doing great lately, but Tokyo Olympics are approaching fast. In Rio, we did a miracle with ten medals won, and I think in Tokyo we can win even more and prove that we Croats are on the roof of the world whenever needed most – said Sandra.
For the second time in the past three years, gymnast Tin Srbić joined her as Athlete of the Year and winner of silver at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart.
- Two years ago, I was the World Champion and the Croatian Olympic Committee’s first-time laureate, at that time it was all of a sudden. Now I am more aware of my great results because I have a continuity of two, three years. I have been dreaming of an Olympic performance since I was five and can't wait for it in Tokyo – said Tin Srbić.
The Croatian National Water Polo Team (Marko Bijač, Marko Macan, Loren Fatović, Luka Lončar, Maro Joković, Hrvoje Benić, Ante Vukičević, Andro Bušlje, Lovre Miloš, Josip Vrlić, Anđelo Šetka, Javier Garcia Gadea and Ivan Marcelić, with Coach Ivica Tucak) is - for the ninth time - the Most Successful Male Team in the selection of the Croatian Olympic Committee, this time thanks to the world bronze medal. However, as they are currently in Australia preparing for the upcoming European Championships, the award was presented to their injured members Anđelo Šetka and Ivor Krapić, accompanied by the Head of the Croatian Water Polo Federation Mladen Drnasin.
Croatian female bowlers (Ana Jambrović, Klara Sedlar, Ines Maričić, Mirna Bosak, Milana Pavlić, Mirjana Liović, Valentina Gal, Ana Bacan Schneider, Tihana Čavlović and Nataša Ravlić) became World Champions in May, earning thus deservingly the title of the Most Successful Female Team of the year 2019.
Like the water polo players, for the ninth time (out of ten in total), the Most Successful Crew in the selection of the Croatian Olympic Committee are the Sinković brothers, European and World Champions and the Best World Rowing Crew. Another famous rower Damir Martin, who is also the Vice President of the Croatian Olympic Committee, presented them the award. The brothers Sinković promised to continue in the same winning pace in the Olympic year 2020 and try to defend the Olympic gold in Tokyo, adding that they would like to keep that rhythm until the Paris Olympics 2024. Their coach Nikola Bralić, whom the Croatian Olympic Committee proclaimed the Most Successful Coach, is also the guarantee of future success of the fantastic rowing brothers.
For outstanding contribution to the development and promotion of sports, the Matija Ljubek Award went to former volleyball player and volleyball official Vinko Dobrić, basketball club DOŠK from Drniš, tennis club Osijek, Croatian Rowing Federation and handball club Lokomotiva.
As every year, the Fair Play Award – presented by the Croatian Olympic Committee for extremely fair gesture at or outside a sport competition – went to the crossbower Valentina Pereglin, who returned a silver medal at the World Championships after being mistakenly point-credited by the judges.
The Captain of the Croatian National Football Team Luka Modrić was proclaimed the Greatest Sports Promoter of Croatia in the World, having the award received on his behalf by his father Stipe Modrić, accompanied by Luka's mother Radojka.
Special award for the Greatest Media Promoter of Sports went to Sport Television (SPTV) and it was received by its Manager Petar Čavlović and Editor-in-Chief Jura Ozmec. In nine years of broadcasting, SPTV processed 122 sports branches and disciplines, hosted more than 4,000 athletes and sports professionals and provided more than 3,100 broadcasts.
A special guest at the Great Day of Croatian Sports ceremony was the taekwondo Olympian Krtistina Tomić who presented the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Olympic campaign Towards the Sun.