Wrestler Ivan Huklek and Taekwondo Fighter Ivan Šapina Join Croatia Olympic Team!

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

HTV / HRT Screenshot
HTV / HRT Screenshot

HRT reports a welcome full of emotions was held for Ivan Huklek, who did the impossible by winning a spot among the elite company of the 16 best wrestlers of his category at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I did not expect such a large number of people, but it means a lot to me because it is the support of those who follow me throughout my career,” said Croatian wrestler Ivan Huklek.

And this accomplishment has additional importance because it was won after his family experienced particularly challenging times. Ivan’s younger sister passed away about 10 days ago.

“It’s hard for me to describe how I felt about everything that was happening. I’m happy, aware that I’ve qualified, but it’s not the feeling I thought I’d have,” he admits.

“He found that motivation where he knew his sister was watching him from above, and I can say that, in that category, in that competition, where the Olympic winner has no norm, Huklek qualified in this masterful way,” said Anton Djok, Ivan Huklek’s coach.

Huklek is Croatia’s second wrestler that will compete in Tokyo; he will be accompanied by the experienced Božo Starčević, who was close to a medal in Rio.

Ivan Šapina, a taekwondo fighter who won in the last second of his qualifying fight, also realized his dream.

“I didn’t think about anything anymore; I just jumped, went to the coach. Emotions flooded everything, the entire coaching staff. I tried a little to explain to myself and understand what I managed, what success I achieved. So, the feeling is still fantastic,” he says.

While some have been disappointed, martial arts representatives are recording historical results.

“We’ve never had more representatives in taekwondo. We had three athletes at the last Olympic Games, and we will have four candidates this year,” says Dejan Mesarov, Ivan Šapina’s coach. 

All athletes will have to know how to fight in the unusual conditions at the Games caused by the ongoing pandemic.

“Among them, there are athletes who can reach the Olympic podium, and I believe that in the psychological sense, they will withstand the pressure of these abnormal Games,” said Zlatko Mateša, president of the Croatian Olympic Committee.

You can watch the video on HRT HERE.

The Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE


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