Zagreb, 29 January 2021 - Minister of Defense Mario Banožić and Chief of General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces Admiral Robert Hranj and associates organized at the Croatian Army House in Zagreb the reception for twenty-four top athletes, out of a total of forty, who signed service contracts in the reserve composition of the Croatian Army for 2021.

These are top athletes signing the contracts with the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia on the proposal of the Croatian Olympic Committee according to the criteria of sports quality in accordance with the categorization of athletes in the Republic of Croatia and the criteria of sports that are developed at the Ministry of Defense according to CISM systematization.

Minister Banožić congratulated the gathered athletes on achieved results, especially those who reached the standard for the Olympic Games and praised them for relentlessly maintaining, despite the difficult circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, physical readiness.

- We are extremely honored and proud that you are part of the Croatian Army Family and thank you for representing our homeland in the best possible way with your sacrifice, work, talent and top results. Your contribution and added value you are giving to the Croatian Army is of immense importance - said Minister Banožić.

He also referred to the cooperation project between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Olympic Committee, based on which the Croatian Army develops a category of top athletes - reservists, pointing out that this is an indicator that the Croatian Army not only puts a special emphasis on physical readiness and recognizes the value of sports, but also provides an additional motive for athletes to achieve top results.

- Despite the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic and budget cuts, the Ministry of Defense will continue its cooperation with the NOC of Croatia. The Ministry of Defense and the Croatian Army are making significant resources and efforts to provide all members with quality conditions for an active and sports life, enabling thus the development of sportsmanship, teamwork and kinship - added Minister Banožić.

On behalf of top female and male athletes, signatories of the service contract in the reserve composition of the Croatian Army for 2021, judoka Barbara Matić thanked Minister Banožić, Ministry of Defense and Croatian Olympic Committee for their cooperation and support all these years. She expressed hope for quick solution of the COVID-19 pandemic and for athletes to return to trainings and competitions.

The engagement of our top athletes in the Croatian Army reserve composition began with the signing of the Cooperation Agreement between the NOC of Croatia and the Ministry of Defense on 3 October 2010 and already in 2011 the status of contract reservist was achieved by 20 female and male athletes. As of 2020, this number has been rounded up to 40 top female and male athletes, with whom the contracts have been concluded for 2021.

Service contracts in the reserve composition of the Croatian Army for 2021 were signed by (alphabetically order by sports): Filip Zubčić, Istok Rodeš, Elias Kolega and Matej Vidović (Alpine Skiing), Ivan Horvat, Ana Šimić and Stipe Žunić (Athletics), Toni Filipi and Marko Milun (Boxing), Filip Ude, Robert Seligman and Tin Srbić (Gymnastics), Antonio Kamenjašević, Dominik Etlinger, Božo Starčević, Ivan Huklek and Ivan Lizatović (Wrestling) , Mihovil Fantela, Šime Fantela, Igor Marenić and Tonči Stipanović (Sailing), Zlatko Kumrić, Ana Lenard, Barbara Matić and Dominik Družeta (judo), Ivan Kvesić and Anđelo Kvesić (Karate), Snježana Pejčić, Giovanni Cernogoraz, Anton Glasnović, Petar Gorša and Miran Maričić (Shooting), Kristina Tomić, Matea Jelić, Toni Kanaet, Lovre Brečić and Iva Radoš (Taekwondo) and Damir Martin, Valent Sinković and Martin Sinković (Rowing).

The reception at the Ministry of Defense was not attended by the athletes busy with preparatory or competitive activities, such as the ski quartet competing in World Cup races. (Ministry of Defense/NOC of Croatia/VK)