Slovenian athletes successfully represent Slovenia at the Tokyo Olympics
The Olympic Games, which were recently held in Tokyo, once again confirmed that Slovenia is one of the world's sporting superpowers, as our Olympians won 5 medals. Slovenia, which participated for the first time as an independent state in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, now boasts 8 gold medals from 8 Summer Olympic Games, 9 silver medals and 11 bronze medals.
This time, the Olympic gold medals were won by climber Janja Garnbret, canoeist Benjamin Savšek and cyclist Primož Roglič, the silver medal was won by judoka Tina Trstenjak, and the bronze medal by cyclist Tadej Pogačar.
The excellent performances of our athletes have been met with great joy and excitement, providing an extra boost as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence. Once again, the athletes' successes have brought us together as a nation as we cheered and rejoiced at the results, awakening in us a sense of gratitude and pride that Slovenia has so many diverse talents, including in the field of sport. This pride and excitement that our athletes represented Slovenia so well in Tokyo were reflected in the joy upon welcoming them home.
It was a great honour to represent our country
Janja Garnbret, who carried the Slovenian flag at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, where climbing was included as an Olympic discipline for the first time, will go down in the history of global sport as the first gold medallist in this discipline. "I never run out of challenges, I always find something to aim for, but the truth is that I have now won everything and I can only defend this in the future," she said to the media, adding on behalf of all Slovenian Olympic athletes that it has been a great honour for them to represent Slovenia.
At the reception in Ljubljana, Benjamin Savšek, who after years of hard work and many ups and downs in competitions finally won gold at the Olympic Games, was greeted by the loud applause of fans.
In his third appearance at the Olympic Games, he achieved the biggest success of his career. He won Slovenia's first gold medal in the men's canoe slalom, which is the third Olympic medal for Slovenian canoe slalom racers. The other two Olympic medals were won by slalom canoeist Andraž Vehovar in Atlanta in 1996 and Peter Kauzer in Rio five years ago.
'To persevere on your path' is something I would advise to all young athletes who dream of every athlete's ultimate goal – to win the Olympic gold. "Desire leads you to your goal, but it is the work that gets you there," stressed Savšek. At the reception in Ljubljana, he remembered his perfect run in Tokyo: "It was a dream run, I was expecting a medal at the finish line, but in the end it turned out to be good enough for gold. I am delighted with all the receptions, thank you Slovenia, your cheers could be heard all the way to Tokyo."
Judoka Tina Trstenjak, who won Olympic silver, was also greeted with enthusiasm. She was particularly happy to win the medal, as martial arts originate mostly from Asia. She summed up her excitement: "Japan is the home of judo, and it was amazing to compete there," she said.
"I would like to thank you for all the support; this victory is not only mine, but also yours. It was an honour to defend the Slovenian colours," said Primož Roglič to the media and his fans. Tadej Pogačar said the same.
Slovenia among the world's basketball elite
The outstanding performance of Slovenian athletes in Tokyo was further enhanced by Slovenia's basketball players.Our national team's performance was widely praised, both at home and abroad. Our boys demonstrated that they could compete on an equal footing with any basketball team. They had some outstanding performances, the enthusiasm and cheering intensifying with each game, right up to the final match, with Slovenia narrowly missing out on an Olympic medal in the end.
The team, led by coach Aleksander Sekulić on the sidelines and Luka Dončić on the court, finished the group stage flawlessly and, after the victory against Germany, played two medal games, bringing Slovenia together, as fans, even in the late hours of the night, followed our athletes intently on their way to their historic achievement. Their chances of winning their first team medal slipped away in a fraction of a second following Frenchman Nicolas Batum's block in the semi-finals.
This time, the Slovenian public once again lived and breathed basketball, cheering on the basketball players, just like four years ago when they won the EuroBasket championship in Istanbul. In the end, our basketball players finished fourth, confirming that Slovenia ranks among the best in the world. Their performance, sacrifices and team spirit are certainly worth as much as a gold medal in this respect.
In a statement to the media following the success of the Slovenian basketball players, Luka Dončić said: " The success in Tokyo was a dream come true. Basketball has given me a lot and has taken me to wonderful places. I will expand my foundation, which is non-profit and will give back to the environments that mean a lot to me, namely my home country Slovenia and Northern Texas. I am happy that I will soon be able to build two new courts in Slovenia. We will also renovate the courts where I took my first steps in basketball and where I trained a lot. The fact that children will have the opportunity to play on the same courts and dream the same dreams as I did is something that excites me immensely."
Promising Slovenian athletes also at the Olympic Games
Kristjan Čeh, who this year surpassed all expectations and threw over the magical 70-metre mark in the discus throw, finished fifth, but there will still be plenty opportunities for the 22-year-old from Ptuj. Taekwondo athlete Ivan Trajković and judoka Kaja Kajzer, who competed in the up to 57 kg category, also came close to a medal; the sailing team of Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol also put in an excellent performance. Tina Šutej finished fifth in the women's pole vault, and Maruša Mišmaš Zrimšek exceeded expectations by finishing sixth in the women's 3000-metre steeplechase.
The Slovenian table tennis team also deserves a special mention with its first team appearance at the Olympic Games. Shooter Živa Dvoršak made it to the finals after finishing seventh in the rifle 3 positions, and judoka Adrian Gomboc finished seventh in the men's 66kg category.
Thank you, esteemed athletes, for being Slovenia's ambassadors at the Olympic Games in Tokyo as Slovenia is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence and holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the second time.
Franci Donko/Government Communication Office