Split/Zagreb, 19 February 2021 - One of the greatest Croatian athletes of all time, Blanka Vlašić, announced the decision to officially end her active athletic career. In addition to numerous world and European trophies and sports recognitions, Blanka’s rich collection includes two Olympic medals - silver from Beijing 2008 and bronze from Rio 2016.
Herewith we are publishing Blanka’s decision to end her competitive career in High Jump in its entirety, as well as the reviews of coach and father Joško Vlašić and coach Bojan Marinović on her excellent achievements (in addition at the end of the text).
Statement by Blanka Vlašić on the occasion of official ending of her active sports career:
My dear friends of athletics, my dear female and male fans,
Ever since Rio, I've been trying to patch up the injury, full four years of hope that I will once again stand in front of the bar and challenge myself. I've been breathing sports since I birth, high jump is an indivisible part of me and that's the way it's always going to be. That is why I let the decision on ending my active career come naturally.
A lot of people told me to quit before winning bronze in Rio, that I've already done a lot. But if I had listened to them, I would not have won another Olympic medal, a medal very dear to me because I won it literally with one healthy leg. That competition drew everything out of me, including what I didn't know I had. The following years brought countless rehabilitation treatments, hope, then disappointment, and so on and on and on. However, although a side observer would notice at first glance that it was time to commit to new challenges in life, the decision had to be mine. Before it came, I went through all the stages of grief and for me it as the hardest time in my career. And after all I have been through on a completely ordinary and peaceful day, I felt in my heart: "It's over". I knew it was time and I was completely calm. In fact, I felt a relief I would never have had if I “went out of the line” and abruptly stopped when a lot of people thought I should.
In the whole process I had a lot of support from my family, father and coach Joško, Bojan and friends. They knew it was a fight I had to go through on my own and fight for a clean-headed decision. Any athlete will understand me - parting is not easy. We leave behind great emotions, conquered peaks, victories over ourselves, glorious moments that cannot be described in words. But that all remains a part of us. The part we carry into the future. And I carry all my successes and failures and I'm going to weave them into some new story. Therefore, I'll always stay in sports. With my experience and knowledge, I want to contribute permanently and actively to the further development of world athletics and sports in general.
I'm proud of my career. First of all, I am grateful to God for the blessing of talent and the circumstances where that talent could have blossomed. For friends and fans who believed and jumped with me. Even though athletics is an individual sport, I've always felt like a part of the team, because I wasn't just jumping for myself. Running the lap of honor with the Croatian flag has always been the greatest honor for me. With peace in my heart, grateful for every inch and every applause, I am turning a new life page.
Blanka Vlašić won 19 major world medals, of which 13 were gold. She jumped two and more meters as many as 165 times, and she set her personal record – also the second-best record of all-time – at the Zagreb’s Hanžek. Only the legendary Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova with a world record set back in 1987 jumped one centimeter higher than Blanka. Blanka also lacked a centimeter to achieve her dream of Olympic gold when she jumped 205 centimeters in Beijing in 2008, as did the Belgian winner Tia Hellebaut, who overcame that height in the first and Blanka in the second attempt. At the peak of her career, in 2010, when she won the title of World Indoor and European Champion, triumphed in the Diamond League and won at 18 of 20 competitions in which she participated. She was named the Best World's and European Athlete for her achievements in that year.
JOŠKO VLAŠIĆ ON BLANKA'S CAREER
The President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Zlatko Mateša and Secretary General Josip Čop sent a congratulatory note to Blanka Vlašić, her family and members of the expert staff:
Dear Blanka, dear Joško and Bojan, the esteemed Vlašić family,
in the moments when one of the greatest Croatian athletes in history officially leaves the big sports stage, only one word is imposed as a message: THANK YOU! Blanka gave us so much happiness and satisfaction that in one period of time with her jumped heights she kept high the entire Croatian sport. She was and remains a sports diva who will forever be admired by athletics fans all over the world.
Thank you, Blanka, for such numerous moments in which you filled with pride both the Croatian sport and the Croatian homeland!