Croatia’s World Champion Gymnast Trains in Desperate Conditions in Zagreb

Daniela Rogulj

It has been a year since Tin Srbić shocked the world and became the gymnastics World Champion.

Croatian gymnast Tin Srbić will defend the World Championship title in Qatar in just three weeks. Unfortunately, for this endeavor, he is still training in a 135-year-old gymnastics hall in the very center of Zagreb, where his injuries are threatened at every turn, reports on October 3, 2018. 

A year ago, when Srbić sensationally earned the world gold, he received numerous promises of support and better training conditions. Though, not surprisingly, nothing has been met yet. 

Tin Srbić is pleased with placing sixth in the World Cup final in France, primarily because he’s convinced that he has completely overcome his pesky shoulder injury. Now, Srbić can focus entirely on an exercise he will use to defend his World Champion title in Doha in less than a month. 

“This is definitely my goal in the next couple of years, to show that this did not just happen once and will never happen again. At least getting into the finals is already a sign that I’m back in the top and that I am around, somewhere,” Tin Srbić said to Nova TV.

“In the World Championships, the competition is such that you don’t need to achieve some sort of big kick. There may be a minor mistake and it will not be enough to enter the finals, so the nuances will decide,” said Lucijan Krce, Tin’s coach. 

But it would be much easier for the 22-year-old Zagreb native to train if he was given the training conditions worthy of a World Champion. Instead, Srbić trains in a narrow, 135-year-old gym where his injuries are threatened at every turn.

After he sensationally earned the world gold a year ago in Montreal and thus achieved the greatest success of Croatian gymnastics in history, the promises of better conditions came to fruition upon his return home – and they came in the form of sponsors from the state level and the city government. Today, Srbić realizes he was naive.

“In the end they all pretended, that’s it. They said ‘you were good, we’ll give you everything, and in two months, but ‘you will not get anything’ is how it really turned out. All that we actually received were some modifications to the old hall, which were done by the club and ourselves, on our own,” says the disappointed Srbić.

One of the promises was made by Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić, who said he’d construct a new gymnasium in Lučk. But how did Bandić respond?

“I promised, yes. I said I promised. You’re pulling out with tweezers what I promised, and maybe it is not over yet. We cannot work on gymnastics overnight,” said the Mayor of Zagreb.

“At least, if I’m in such a position, it’s not always smart to talk, to say that something is going to be done for people and give them hope, when it’ll really be done in two years. So, do not say it’ll be done in two months if you know that it’ll take two years,” Srbić added. 

“I think somewhere in a month, maybe a month and a half, gymnasts will have the most up-to-date and most modern gymnastics room after a century and a half,” said Ivica Lovrić, Head of Education, Culture and Sports.

“What do I do now? Wait 12 months and then nothing again? I really hope it won’t be this way, that this time it’ll happen as they say,” says Srbić.

“And in a month and a half, we will be with Tin Srbić in Lučko at the gymnastics center,” Bandić added.

“We are waiting, and I hope this time this promise will not take another year,” concluded Srbić.

You can watch the full video interview here


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