As we started to write the article about two athletes denied the opportunity to appear at the Olympic Games due to a mistake made by the Croatian Judo Federation, as somebody forgot to sign them up for the qualifying tournament, (we wonder if they forgot to sign the salary checks for the officials?) we stumbled upon the article written by Bernard Jurišić on his official page. We bring it to you as it is written.
I know that most of you have not the slightest idea about who are those people in the photo. Please, take few minutes and allow me to bring you the story about them.
These two athletes have cruised around the world in the last year and collected points to qualify for the Olympic Games. They did not travel to the final qualifying tournament, which would have secured their qualification as somebody from the Federation did not send the application. All their hard work, their effort was denied due to sloppy bureaucracy. The federation admitted its mistake and apologized. Shit happens. But the look on their faces tells the story.
Her name is Marijana Mišković – Hasanbegović. The thirty-four-year-old mother of two boys was to crown her trophy-winning career in Rio. She has not given up on Judo even while pregnant, and she planned the second birth in the first two years of the Olympic Cycle, so she could fully dedicate her life to qualifying to Rio. She planned on winning a medal there. She suffered a broken leg but didn’t give up. She came back and collected points. All she needed was that one final tournament.
His name is Zlatko Kumrić. When he was nineteen, he was diagnosed with heart muscle deficiency and was told that there will be no more sport for him and that he should be happy if he does not end up disabled. He refused to give up; he won that battle against his own heart, and he got to be the European Junior vice-champion, and one of the best young Judo athletes of the world. His comment about the mistake from the federation that denied him the trip to Rio: “I should secure qualification earlier, before the final tournament.”
I do not know the name of the person who denied them the qualification to the Olympics. I do not actually care. I just wanted to direct your attention to their sad story, at least for a couple of minutes. And remind you about all the athletes whose faces you do not recognize, athletes that get only medals from sport, as they cannot make living out of it. Athletes that fight their battles in silence and half – anonymity, they push their boundaries, swallow their pain and do not ask anything in return. Except for the ones working in Federations and Olympic Committee to do their part.
Now, what? Nothing. Two athletes will not live out their dreams this summer, but the Earth will keep on spinning. Marijana’s kids will be playing with their mom, instead of waiting for her at the airport along with the rest of the country with flowers in their hands. Zlatko will start his preparations for Tokyo Olympics 2020 and pray for someone to make a note in his planner “sign up Kumrić!”.
And as for the rest of us, along with the squares named to commemorate victims of fascism and communism, we should consider naming some after bureaucracy victims.
Bernard Jurišić, journalist