High Jump Champion Blanka Vlašić Retires at 37

Daniela Rogulj

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The celebrated Croatian athlete and high jumper could no longer cope with her injuries. She said goodbye to the fans and the public with a letter transmitted in its entirety below.

In her great career, Blanka has twice been an outdoor world champion. She won silver at the Beijing Olympics and bronze at the Rio Games. She has the second-best result of all time and is the Croatian record holder with a jump of 208 centimeters.

“Dear friends of athletics, my dear fans,

Ever since Rio, I have been trying to patch up my injury, a full four years of hope that I will again stand in front of the bar and challenge myself. I have been breathing sports since I was born, the high jump is an integral part of me, and it will always be that way. So I let the decision to end my career come naturally. Before I won bronze in Rio, many told me to give up, as I have already done a lot. But if I had listened to them, I would not have won another Olympic medal, a medal that is so special to me because I won it literally with one healthy leg. That competition pulled everything out of me, even what I didn’t know I had.

The years after brought innumerable rehabilitation treatments, hope, then disappointment, and so on indefinitely. Yet, although it would be clear at first glance to an outside observer that it was time to dedicate myself to new life challenges, the decision had to be mine. Before it came, I went through all the stages of grief, and for me, it was the hardest period of my career. And only after all, on a very ordinary and peaceful day, it came to my heart: “It’s over.” I knew it was time, and I was completely calm. On the contrary, I felt a relief that I would never have had if I had ‘gone over the line’ and stopped in vain when many thought I should.

Throughout this process, I had the great support of my family, father and coach Joško, Bojan, and friends. They knew it was a struggle I had to go through on my own and fight for a clear-headed decision. Every athlete will understand me – parting is not easy. We leave behind great emotions, conquered peaks, victories over ourselves, magnificent moments that cannot be described in words. But it all remains a part of us. The part we carry into the future. And I carry all my successes and failures, and I will weave them into some new story. So I will always stay in the sport. With my experience and knowledge, I want to permanently and actively contribute to the further development of world athletics and sports in general.

I am proud of my career. First of all, I am grateful to God for the blessing of talent and the circumstances in which that talent could flourish. To friends and fans who believed and jumped along with me. Although athletics is an individual sport, I always felt like part of a team because I didn’t jump just 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 turn a new page in my life.”

Read more about Blanka here.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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