Zagreb, 10 September 2021 - The Croatian Olympic Committee (COC) marked the 30th anniversary of its founding at the ceremony held at the hotel Sheraton in Zagreb. It was a unique combination of past and future of the Croatian sports.
- It was our idea to share this ceremony with people who formed the core of founders of the NOC of Croatia and with all of you with whom we have worked over the past 30 years. Over that period, there were more than 500 female and male athletes competing at 16 Summer and Winter Olympics, winning 52 medals. In terms of population and other parameters, Croatia was always among the twenty best countries in the world at the Games. We also wanted to link this ceremony with the Dražen Petrović Award because it is also a glance into the future of Croatian sports, said the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Mateša, who as the host addressed the present representatives of national sports federations, county sports communities and other sports associations.
Remembering the days of establishment of the Croatian Olympic Committee, the interlocutors were the first President and first Secretary General - Antun Vrdoljak and Slavko Podgorelec.
- The war was the biggest challenge and we needed to do something because our children were dying at the battlefields. We were also lucky to have a great friend Juan Antonio Samaranch... Slavko Podgorelec and I gathered a group of like-minded people and started founding the Croatian Olympic Committee, and in doing so we were ridiculed, said Vrdoljak, highlighting as the most memorable memory from the 30 years of the Croatian Olympic Committee's membership in the international Olympic family: - Tears after winning a silver medal against the American Dream Team in Barcelona...
Croatian Olympic Committee’s honorary plaques were presented to representatives of 29 sports federations and three sports associations that participated in its establishment: Antun Vrdoljak (then as the representative of Athletics), Marinko Šišak (Badminton), Osvaldo Vavra (Baseball), Vladimir Juriša (Cycling), Damir Škaro (Boxing), Vlatko Škiljo (Judo), Mirko Novosel (Basketball), Bogomir Jambrošić (Fencing), Mladen Vedriš (Football), Boris Volčanšek (Swimming), Ivan Hegedus (Ice Hockey), Sanda Dubravčić Šimunjak (Skating and Roller Skating), Marijan Flander (Handball), Josip Kecerin (Skiing), Ivo-Goran Munivrana (Table Tennis), Nenad Slukić (Archery), Tomislav Šepec (Shooting), Stanislav Bick (Tennis), Zlatko Celent (Rowing), Marko Pećina (Sports Medicine Section of the Croatian Medical Association) and Zlatko Šimenc (Faculty of Physical Culture, today's Faculty of Kinesiology). The same recognition of the NOC of Croatia was given posthumously to: Ivan Čaklec (Gymnastics), Marijan Malović (Wrestling), Ivo Zlatar (Field Hockey), Dubravko Mataković (Kayak and Canoe), Zdravko Marušić (Equestrian), Bojan Stranić (Volleyball), Ivan Helman (Weightlifting), Stjepan Križić (Diving), Danimir Matošić (Sailing), Zdravko Hebel (Water Polo), Drago Marović (Croatian Sports Journalists Association).
Besides them, an honorary plaque of the NOC of Croatia was presented to representatives of the working group for establishment of the Croatian Olympic Committee in 1991 - Ivan Kern as its President and Vladimir Findak as a member.
After that, the Award Dražen Petrović 2021 was presented to the most successful Croatian young female and male athletes (up to 20 years) and to the Greatest Hopes of Croatian sports (up to 16 years).
The Best Young Athlete, judoka Lara Cvjetko, did not attend the ceremony, so instead the award was received by her coach Marko Cetinić:
- Today Lara won the 2nd place at the European Judo Championships in Czech Republic and says thank you for this award. I believe she will consider it a pledge for an Olympic medal.
The Most Successful Young Athlete also comes from martial arts - taekwondoka Josip Teskera who very resolutely explained what this recognition means to him: - Dražen Petrović was a great athlete, and I am extremely happy for receiving this award, it will be a great incentive for me to continue my career.
The Most Successful Women's Team of younger age categories is the U18 Junior Bowling Team consisting of: Magdalena Škreblin, Sara Pejak, Anamarija Grdić, Amela Nicol Imširović and Paula Polanščak. Laureates in the category of the Most Successful Men's Team of younger age categories are members of the U19 Cadet Handball Team: Dominik Kuzmanović, Ivan Barbić, Matija Car, Adam Šalić, Fabijan Grubišić, Marin Lisac, David Jurišić, Patrik Hršak, Matej Mandić, Marin Božičević, Jakov Dujić, Matej Komljenović, Mario Zakić, Jakov Neralić, Zlatko Raužan, Mislav Obradović, Toma Lučin, Roka Malin, Tin Tompić.
In the category of the Most Successful Sports Pair, Relay or Crew of younger age categories there was no doubt. The winners of the award, along with the fact that they were also the only candidates, are Natali Banko and Matej Vukoić, mixed pair in Shooting.
The Greatest Hope of Croatian Sports for 2021 comes from sailing - Tea Peteh who said she is honored for being selected the winner of the award bearing Dražen's name.
The same recognition in the men's competition went to young tennis player Duje Markovina, who did not attend the ceremony, but sent his impressions on the Award through the Croatian Tennis Federation.
- I am extremely honored, proud and happy for being selected the winner of the Award Dražen Petrović 2021. Big thanks to the Croatian Olympic Committee, as well as to the members of the commission who selected me – reads the message from Duje Markovina, who also thanked his family, friends, club and his elementary school for their great understanding. (NOC of Croatia/VK)