Summer to Remember for Croatian Sports, and It’s Not Over Yet

Daniela Rogulj

Croatian sports have a lot more to be thankful for this summer than ‘just’ the World Cup silver. 

We have so much to be thankful for, that Croatia’s good fortune at the World Cup in Russia was just the beginning of a series of successes in Croatian sports – and this summer, Croatia can celebrate their heroes in water polo, rowing, sailing, athletics, and gymnastics, too, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on August 14, 2018. 

Namely, Croatian athletes decorated winning podiums at championships in Europe and all over the world this summer, and standing next to the greatest success of Croatian football at the World Cup is Croatia’s water polo team, the Sinković brothers, the Fantela brothers, Sandra Perković and Robert Seligman.

But there were even more successes to count, like Anton Glasnović’s European silver in trap shooting, the historic European silver of Croatia’s U20 men’s basketball team (and their first medal in 20 years), the bronze medal in rowing for Anton and Patrik Lončarić at the World Junior Championships, and 17 medals won at the Mediterranean Games. 

It has been a summer to remember, that is for sure. And it’s not over yet.

Russia World Cup Silver 

On the road to the sensational silver at the World Cup this summer, Zlatko Dalić’s team united the nation. And if anyone doubted that, they were given confirmation from the national team’s return to Croatia.

Nearly half a million people rushed to the Zagreb streets, where it wasn’t too difficult to stand all day long in the heat while they welcomed the ‘Silver Generation’ on their journey to Ban Jelačić Square.

The photos from the welcoming fascinated the world and crafted images that will live forever in the memories of not just the players, but of all Croats, too. Modrić & Co. were found all over Croatia in the days to follow – from Split to Zadar, Imotski, Šibenik, Solin, Omiš, Rabac, Slavonski Brod, Donji Miholjac, Varaždin, Karlovac and even Livno.

Considering Croatia’s willingness to argue about everything in sight – including football, politics, religion, music and the latest films – it was beautiful to experience a nation at least mostly united over these few days. 

Water Polo European Bronze 

Shortly after the World Cup ended in Russia, the European Championship in water polo began. Ivica Tucak’s side arrived in Spain as the current world champions and silver medalists at the Olympic Games. They warmed up against the Netherlands and Turkey, defeated Greece, won the group and eliminated Montenegro in the quarter-finals.

Though Serbia was better in the semi-finals, in the bronze fight, Croatia overcame Italy and returned home with a medal around their necks. Everyone hoped for the gold, of course, but every medal comes with meaning. It was their fourth European medal, but the first since 2010 when they won the gold in Zagreb.

Croatia also remained without captain Sandro Sukno who could not compete this year due to heart problems. Coach Tucak said that this bronze had a golden glow. 

Sinković Brothers Rowing European Gold

After years of dominance in double sculls where they won the Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, brothers Martin and Valent Sinković tried their hands at an entirely new discipline – coxless pairs. 

Last year, the duo took the silver at the World Championships, and this summer in Glasgow at the European Championships, they took the gold after defeating French brothers Valentine and Theophile Onfroy by a second. Up next is the World Championships and the hunt for another gold. 

“We need to correct some mistakes if we want to become world champions. Up next is the hardest, the preparation,” they said. 

The Sinković brothers are only at the beginning of a new story that culminates with the same goal as the previous – the Olympic gold.

Sailing World Gold for the Fantela Brothers

Zadar brothers Šime and Mihovil Fantela have only sailed together for a year and a half, but they are already world champions! Though Šime had worked with Igor Marenić in the 470 class for 15 years where they won everything, after Rio, Šime was after a new challenge.

Then came Mihovil, a man who had no experience in sailing, unlike his brother. The two decided to join the 49er class, and in Aarhus last weekend, they became the world’s best.

They sailed modestly, without any major announcements, and only hoped to win one of the top eight spots for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In the end, they ended up taking the gold. 

“We are like that. When we feel the opportunity, we will bite it and go to the end,” said the brothers.

Šime already has the Olympic gold from Rio with then partner Marenić, but winning an Olympic medal with his brother would be even more special.

Sandra Perković’s Fifth European Gold 

Sandra Perković, a decorated discus thrower and ‘Discus Queen’, is no longer news. In the end, it almost seems as if the bigger news about Perković would be if she failed to win the gold. But without taking her medals for granted, we have to tip our hats to Croatia’s best female athlete and admire what she was able to accomplish last weekend when she became the European Champion in discus throwing for the fifth consecutive time in Berlin.

After four poor series, in her fifth and final try, Sandra threw 67,62 meters, which was enough to give her the gold. Sandra is the first athlete in history to win five consecutive European Championship titles in the same individual discipline. Let’s not forget that she is also the current world champion and an Olympic winner, too. 

“Let’s go for six, seven, eight…” Sandra said when accepting the new title. 

Seligman’s European Silver in Gymnastics 

Osijek gymnast Robert Seligman has been waiting for a new medal at the European Championships for ten years. In Lausanne in 2008, he secured the bronze, but in Glasgow in 2018, he won his historic silver in the pommel horse. 

14 years at the top of the world is proof of Robert’s continuous hard work, but also because he is in his best form – before Glasgow this year, Robert won the Croatian Championship, and then the silver at the Mediterranean Games. The peak of the season will be in Doha for the World Championships in two months. 

“I train every day for 5-6 hours, I’m persistent and never give up. I was raised with this attitude and your dreams do come true,” said the 32-year-old. 

Leave a Comment