Sport

09 Aug 2021, 12:17 PM

STA, 8 August 2021 - Slovenian athletes participating in the 32nd Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo have won three gold medals, the largest number at any Olympics, summer or winter, since independence. With three golds, one silver and one bronze, the medal tally is the best for Slovenia at Summer Games yet.

The tally places Slovenia 7th in medals per capita among the 93 countries that won at least one medal in Tokyo, the same spot as in Rio in 2016, and the 4th in golds won per capita. Overall, Slovenia placed 31st most successful country at the Games.

Since the Barcelona Games in 1992, the first after Slovenia gained independence in 1991, the country has won eight golds in eight Summer Olympic Games, along with nine silver and 11 bronze medals.

Canoeist Benjamin Savšek, rider Primož Roglič and sport climber Janja Garnbret became Olympic champions at the latest Games, with judoka Tina Trstenjak adding silver and rider Tadej Pogačar bronze to the tally.

Team Slovenia in Tokyo numbered 54 athletes, the lowest number in the Summer Games since 1996, even though the men's national basketball team made its debut appearance.

However, given the excellent showings by Slovenian athletes in the run-up to the Games, the expectations were running high and Team Slovenia were quick to deliver.

Pogačar, coming from Paris where he won the Tour de France for a second year in a row as the youngest double winner, secured Slovenia's first medal in Tokyo, winning bronze in the men's road cycling race.

His teammate, Roglič, who had to quit Tour early due to injury, bounced back from trouble and ill fortune accompanying him for a while, to win the men's time trial to prove Slovenia's dominance in cycling, outperforming the field by more than a minute.

It was Savšek who secured Slovenia's fist gold at the Tokyo Games, convincingly wining the men's C-1 slalom with a flawless performance for Slovenia's first whitewater gold after silver medals won by Andraž Vehovar in Atlanta in 1996 and Peter Kauzer in Rio in 2016.

Pressure has not broken the defending Olympic judo champion in the women's 63kg category, Tina Trstenjak, who took silver after conceding to her friend and rival Clarisse Agbegnenou of France in what was a replay of the gold medal match from the previous Games only with a different outcome.

After the duel, Agbegnenou hoisted Trstenjak into the air as embraced in tears of joy the pair sent out a message that despite fierce battles it is possible to foster a genuine friendship in sport.

The pressure of expectations was even heavier on the shoulder of Janja Garnbret, the sport climber who has been dominating the sports for years, in the Olympic premiere for the sport.

The 22-year-old kept her focus and overcame all the obstacles to make history by winning the combined event by sweeping the field in bouldering and lead and setting a new national record in speed.

It was the men's basketball team who sought to add the icing on the cake of Slovenian achievements in Tokyo in their debut Olympic appearance. But even if they failed to bring a medal back home, they too made history by making it to the semi-finals of the Olympic tournament.

Powered by the NBA star Luka Dončić, and led by head coach Aleksander Sekulić, the team cruised to the semi-finals without losing a single game, demonstrating an amazing team spirit and bringing the nation together to cheer them even at the earliest morning hours.

Slovenia missed the finals only by a whisker, losing 89:90 to France, a disappointment that played a major part in them losing the bronze medal match to Australia and their top scorer Patty Mills (93:107) to finish four overall.

There were some disappointments. Slovenia had expected a medal from discus thrower Kristjan Čeh, following his impressive performance in the run-up to the Games as he crossed the 70-metre mark. He had to settle for 5th spot this time but the 22-year-old will have more opportunities yet.

Maruša Mišmaš Zrimšek exceeded the expectations by placing 6th in the women's 3000 metre steeplechase, while Tina Šutej placed fifth in the women's pole vault.

Sailors Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol finished fifth in the women's 470 class, while flatwater kayakers Špela Ponomarenko Janić and Anja Osterman, who were also considered contenders for a medal, had a major mishap as their kayak capsized shortly before the finish line in the women's K-2 semi-finals.

In table tennis, Darko Jorgić made it to the quarter finals in the men's singles in an upset defeat for Japan's Tomokazu Harimoto, in what is the best Olympic result in the sport for Slovenia.

Shooter Živa Dvoršak made it to the finals of the rifle three position, finishing 7th overall.

Bogdan Gabrovec, the president of the Slovenian Olympic Committee, has assessed Slovenia's performance at the games as excellent, although he has also told the STA it will be hard to repeat the achievements without proper financial support.

Similarly, Miroslav Cerar, the head of the Slovenian Olympic delegation who won his first of the two Olympic gold medals in the pommel horse in Tokyo in 1964, believes Slovenia can be pleased with excellent results. "Not just the medals, all the achievements deserve respect," the 81-year-old said.

06 Aug 2021, 15:43 PM

STA, 6 August 2021 - Janja Garnbret won gold in the women's combined sport climbing at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday in what is the third gold medal for Slovenia at the Games. Miho Nonaka of Japan won the silver medal and her compatriot Akiyo Noguchi earned bronze in what is the first time that the sport featured as any Olympic discipline.

In speed, Janja Garnbret finished fifth, setting the Slovenian record in this category by clocking 7.81 seconds, after she beat US Brooke Raboutou and Austria's Jessica Pilz. She failed to make it to the top four in speed after initially losing to one of the best speed climbers in the world, Anouck Jaubert of France.

Poland's Aleksandra Miroslaw, two-time speed climbing world champion, was the best in this category, beating Jaubert and setting a new world record with 6.84 seconds.

In bouldering, Garnbret ranked the highest. She first faced a 35 degree wall which posed an insurmountable challenge for quite a few competitors, but she was the first and only climber to crack this tough nut and climb right to the top.

In the qualification the 22-year-old dominated in bouldering, clinching four tops and a similar scenario played out in the final where she was the only one to have made it to the top twice in what was a challenge of climbing three different boulders.

Her ascent to the top of the second boulder was especially impressive as she made it look almost easy, succeeding in her first attempt.

In lead, where Garnbret is known to be best, holding two World Champion titles, she again dominated as she made it almost to the top, having gripped 37+ holds.

In her first comment after becoming Olympic Champion, she was visibly moved, displaying tears of joy. "The weight is now off my shoulder," she said, pointing out that when she bounced back in speed to set the national record, she knew she had it in herself to go for the gold.

05 Aug 2021, 16:02 PM

STA, 5 August 2021 - The Slovenian men's basketball team lost 89:90 to France in the semi-finals of their debut Olympic basketball tournament on Thursday to play for the bronze medal against Australia on Saturday at 1pm CET.

This is Slovenia's first loss at the tournament after the team sailed through the group phase and outperformed Germany in the semi-finals.

In scoring, Slovenia were led by Mike Tobey with 23 points and Klemen Prepelič with 17 points, while NBA superstar Luka Dončić scored a triple-double, collecting 16 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists.

It was actually the first loss for Slovenia in official matches after Dončić joined the team, as they rang up 17 wins in a row, including at the 2017 EuroBasket, only to lose today to France, who will play the United States in the finals.

The Slovenian became only a third player ever to record a triple-double in an Olympic tournament to join Russian Alexander Belov (1976) and American LeBron James (2012).

Slovenia had the chance to win the match in the last seconds, with Prepelič attempting a lay-up, which was blocked by France's Nicolas Batum. One possession earlier, Prepelič put Slovenia in the position for a win with a three pointer.

Nevertheless, Slovenia are less than 48 hour away from a chance to win the bronze medal, which would be the first medal for the country in team sports at the Summer Olympics ever.

Slovenia's head coach Aleksander Sekulić said it was a "good game with an excellent opponent" and praised his players for going all out on the court.

Dončić said he was proud of the team. "We lost, although we had a nice opportunity at the end to win. Everybody gave their best. We worked hard for two months to show this level of play here and we surprised a lot of people."

He added that Slovenia had not given up at all, as there was another goal of winning a medal, on which the entire team would focus.

France's head coach Vincent Collet said that the team had been well prepared for Dončić, as his game had been analysed. "We kept throwing our best players at him, tried to wear him down, but he nevertheless collected 18 assists."

France's Nando de Colo, who was the top scorer of the match with 25 points, said it was "one of the toughest matches I've ever played. We had much respect of Slovenia and the team play and the coach's strategy was decisive."

03 Aug 2021, 07:52 AM

STA, 3 August - Slovenia have advanced to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics basketball tournament in a historic feat as it won 94:70 against Germany on Tuesday. This is the first time the Slovenian men's basketball team is competing at the Games and now they are one win away from a medal.

Slovenia started the first quarter aggressively and soon built up a lead, however in the second quarter Germany caught up with the current European Champions as Slovenia's defence was not as stubborn as at the start of the match. Moreover, Germany, whose main weapon in offence is the three-pointer, started scoring open shots.

The second half saw Slovenia picking up pace again and establishing a double-digit lead, which they maintained until the end. Slovenia thus remain unbeaten in Tokyo.

Feelings were running high as the win-it-or-lose-it game was interrupted by quite a few fouls, including technical ones, with players going at each other not just with their basketball skills but also some trash talk on occasion.

Slovenia outperformed Germany in all elements, particularly in rebounding (40:28). Having grabbed 11 rebounds, Slovenia's Mike Tobey remains the best rebounder of the tournament. He also registered a 13-point performance.

NBA star Luka Dončić was less dominant on court as in Slovenia's first two matches of the group phase, however he still had a double double (20 points, 11 assists), boasting his signature fadeaways. He finished two rebounds shy of a triple double.

Zoran Dragić was meanwhile the best shooter of the Slovenian team with 27 points. He displayed 100% accuracy on two-pointers.

"We've created a beautiful morning for Slovenians," said Jaka Blažič in his first comment after the game. Dragić lauded the team's effort, highlighting hard work had paid off, and Dončić said this was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him and his teammates to bag an Olympic medal.

"I'm at a loss for words. We had some issues, but we gave our best as displayed. And now we're among the top four in the world, which is unbelievable," Dončić said.

The Olympic basketball tournament will have been down to just four teams at the end of this day with Slovenia playing either France or Italy in the semi-finals on Thursday.

01 Aug 2021, 14:40 PM

STA, 1 August 2021 - After securing a place in the quarter-finals of the basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Slovenia continued their winning strike on Sunday by beating Spain 95:87 in the third game of the tournament, in which Slovenia remains undefeated. Slovenia will face Germany in the quarter-finals.

Slovenia's Vlatko Čančar scored 22 points, Mike Tobey had 16 scores and Klemen Prepelič 15. Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić was not dominant, having scored 12 points, 14 jumps and nine passes.

The two teams, the reigning 2017 European champions and 2019 World Champions, were neck and neck.

In the first quarter, Slovenia's plans were marred by Dončić's third personal foul, which cost him a few minutes on the bench, so he only scored eight points in the first half.

Spain scored eight 3-pointers, and the result after the first half was 41:44. After the break, Spain was in the lead 55:43 after less than three minutes of the game, but then Slovenia started to play more aggressively in the defence and got organised in the attack to make up for the loss in the third-quarter (68:68).

Čančar scored 20 points in the first 30 minutes, and Dončič 12 points and 11 passes.

But the winner was decided in the final minutes of the game. Slovenia caught up with Spain (82:76) in the 37th minute (83:82).

Tobey's scoring 100 seconds before the end of the game turned things around for Slovenia (88:85), and Prepelič's two free throws 13 seconds before the end again brought three points of advantage to the Slovenian team. Ricky Rubio's missing a 3-pointer for Spain, finally tipped the scale in Slovenia's favour.

Slovenia head coach Aleksander Sekulić said he truly enjoyed the game. "I'm proud of the performance of our team against world champions, a great coach and basketball players whom we forced to play a zone defence for 40 minutes. I think they are the first world champions who played zone for 40 minutes, and against Slovenia. We can be proud of that," he said.

"We've expected a zone, two or three players on me, but not the entire 40 minutes. I was looking for free players with a free shot and we were successful. Unfortunately, we missed a lot but we won in the end. That's all that counts here. We must stay focussed, but I know we're ready for any opponent," said Dončić.

The Slovenian team continues to the quarter-finals as the best team in its group C. After winning against Argentina, Japan and Spain it remains the only undefeated team along with France and Australia.

Slovenia's opponent in the quarter-finals on Tuesday will be Germany, which was determined in today's draw today between Italy and Germany, which ranked second and third in group A, respectively.

If they win that match, Slovenia will face Italy or France in the semi-finals.

29 Jul 2021, 09:50 AM

STA, 29 July 2021 - Slovenia made it to the quarter-finals of the basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games after defeating the hosts Japan 116:81 for what is their second win in as many matches. 

Led by the NBA All-Star Luka Dončić, Slovenia were in the lead throughout the game. With plenty of motivated players in action, they were effective on the offensive and solid in defence.

While not as far dominant as in the first game against Argentina, Dončić scored 25 points, just one more than Zoran Dragić, with Vlatko Čančar adding another 16, Klemen Prepelič 12, and Jaka Blažič 10.

In fact all 12 Slovenia players scored points. The team won won 54:33 on rebounds and passed the 110 score mark for the 12th time in history.

Dončić left the court four minutes before the end of the game, having scored a point for each minute he spent in the court, plus seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocs.

Speaking for TV Slovenija, Dončić was pleased with the game, but said the team still had "quite some reserves in defence, which will be important in the following games.

"We all know Spain, they've had the same team for 10, 15 years, they are a very experienced team and it will be a very hard game," the superstar said ahead of Sunday's last game against Spain.

"I think we showed our power together as a team, having 27 assists and 54 rebounds ... I'm very proud of them," Slovenia head coach Aleksander Sekulić said.

The game will determine Slovenia's final ranking in their group, to be followed by the draw of the quarter-finals.

Winners from all three groups and the best second-placed team are seeded and will be placed in one pot, while the other four, that is the other two second-placed and the two best third-placed teams, will be placed in the second pot.

The quarter-finals will be played on 3 August, the semis on 5 August and the finals on 7 August.

28 Jul 2021, 12:41 PM

STA, 28 July 2021 - Rider Primož Roglič has outclassed the competition by more than a minute in the men's Olympic time trial on Wednesday to win the second gold for Slovenia in Tokyo and the second medal for Slovenian cycling at the ongoing Games.

Bouncing back from difficulties in the Olympic road race, which saw his national team mate Tadej Pogačar win bronze, Roglič entered confidently into the 44.2 kilometre time trial, stepping up the pace throughout the course, to crush the field in the second of two laps for a winning time of 55 minutes 4.19 seconds.

This was as much as a 1min 1.39sec clear off Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands, his team mate in the UCI World Team Jumbo-Visma, in second. Australia's Rohan Dennis came in third with a lag of 1min 3.90sec to claim bronze.

"Amazing ... It goes to show how fortunes can turn fast if you believe in yourself and work hard for new challenges ahead. Absolutely amazing," Roglič told RTV Slovenija in his first comment.

Roglič's is the fourth medal for Slovenia at the Tokyo Games and the second gold after canoeist Benjamin Savšek secured the Olympic title in the men's C-1 slalom on Monday.

"I wouldn't say I'm a specialist for time trial or anything, but I can do a good time trial. I'm exceptionally proud and happy," the 31-year old added.

At the first time check, Roglič was still in second, half a second behind Italian Filippo Ganna, the reigning world champion, and three seconds ahead of Dumoulin with the rest of the pack close behind.

However, 22.1 kilometres into his trial, he has build an 8sec lead ahead of Dumoulin, with Ganna falling as much behind.

Stepping up his rhythm further, he extended his lead ahead of the Dutch rider further to 31 seconds on the first, longest climb, pacing up through to the finish line.

In fact, Roglič was so much focused on his ride that he kept on peddling beyond the finish line at the Fuji International Speedway until he was waved to a halt a hundred metres on.

Commenting on that for the Slovenian public broadcaster after the medal ceremony, Roglič said there was just no one there to tell him it was over and with all benchmarks looking the same he thought: "What the heck, I'll keep going."

Roglič's is the 27th medal for Slovenia at Summer Olympic Games since independence but the first gold in cycling in any discipline after Pogačar won the first ever Olympic medal for the country in cycling.

"We were aware we had a team that can make anything possible ... Primož was phenomenal," Andrej Hauptman, the head coach of Slovenia's Olympic cycling team, commented.

"You could already see before the road trainings that Primož is back in shape. It wasn't his day in the road race, but today he's back at the top where he deserves to be," Hauptman told the Slovenian public broadcaster in a reference to injuries from two bad falls that forced Roglič to withdraw from the Tour de France this year after he came in second last year, bested by Pogačar.

Roglič says he is yet to take in the feat he has achieved today, but he will not have much time to spare as he is due to appear in La Vuelta on 14 August to defend the title of the overall winner for a second time after he first won the tour of Spain in 2019.

27 Jul 2021, 13:23 PM

STA, 27 July 2021 - Slovenian judoka Tina Trstenjak has won the silver medal in the 63kg category at the Tokyo Olympics. The second-best-ranked in the category had to concede to the top-ranked Clarisse Agbegnenou of France on Tuesday in what was a replay of the gold medal match from the previous Olympics where Trstenjak won. 

Agbegnenou defeated Trstenjak with a waza-ari after 37 seconds of extra time following a tense and aggressive face-off during regulation time which saw penalties awarded to both competitors.

The French also outperformed Trstenjak in the previous three matches between them prior to today's match. The last time the 30-year-old Trstenjak was better than her two years younger French peer remains the Paris Grand Slam four years ago.

On her way to the final, which was turned rockier due to back pain, the Slovenian beat Italy's Marie Centracchio, a surprise semi-finalist, and Venezuela's Anriquelis Barrios in the quarter-final.

"It didn't go according to plan, but I'm super happy I've gotten to the final at two consecutive Olympics," Trstenjak told RTV Slovenija after today's match, highlighting she was nevertheless satisfied with the silver medal.

"Clarisse and I are good friends outside judo even though we're rivals. When we face off in the final, that's quite a show. [...] That was the best possible final," she said, adding she could not have wished for a better opponent.

After scoring a waza-ari, the second highest score in judo, Agbegnenou lifted Trstenjak off her feet during a hug out of joy and respect for the Slovenian.

Trstenjak also noted she had been performing in pain the entire morning. The extent of the injury will become clear after the pills wear off, she added.

Apart from her two Olympic medals, Trstenjak also has one gold World Championships medal and three gold European Championships medals.

Today's medal is the third medal for Slovenia in the 2020 Summer Olympics after cyclist Tadej Pogačar got bronze in the road race on Saturday and canoeist Benjamin Savšek won gold in the C-1 slalom yesterday.

26 Jul 2021, 10:54 AM

STA, 26 July 2021 - Slovenian canoeist Benjamin Savšek convincingly won the men's C-1 slalom on Monday to earn the first gold medal for Slovenia at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the second overall medal for the country. 

With no penalty seconds, the 34-year-old finished 3.71 seconds ahead of the second-placed Lukaš Rohan of the Czech Republic and 5.45 seconds ahead of the bronze medallist, Sideris Tasiadis of Germany.

This is already a second medal at the Tokyo Olympics for Slovenia after the bronze medal by cyclist Tadej Pogačar in the men's road race on Saturday, and the 25th overall medal for the country at the Summer Olympics.

Savšek, who has won seven world championship medals and ten European championship medals, earned his first Olympic medal to crown the successful career, after finishing sixth in Rio in 2016 and eighth in London in 2012.

"My first thought was that I managed an excellent run in the finals. A sleepless night is behind me. I finally got the monkey off my back, I had been working hard for this for a long time," he told the national television after the win.

"The course was demanding, I already had a lot of work in the semi-finals, so I focused in the final on making a run without touches, and I managed this. I really fought at the last three gates and when I saw the time the emotions took over."

This is the sixth gold medal for Slovenia at the Summer Olympics and the first gold in kayak/canoe, after Andraž Vehovar and Peter Kauter won silvers in kayak in Atlanta 1996 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, respectively.

"This means a lot to me. This is the only medal that I needed to complete my collection. What is missing is the first place overall in the World Cup, but this outweighs everything," Savšek said.

26 Jul 2021, 09:22 AM

STA, 26 July 2021 - Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić scored 48 points as the Slovenian basketball team cruised past Argentina to open their campaign at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday with a convincing 118:100 win.

The first Olympics win for Slovenia came against the runners-up from the last World Cup, with the winner being already decided in the first half, in which Dončić scored 31 points for Slovenia to take a 20-point lead.

The lead ballooned to 30 by the end of the third quarter and the rest was only a formality, and the only question was with how many points the Dallas Mavericks star will end the match. He finished it with a whopping 48 points.

Dončić was resting in the last four minutes and Klemen Prepelič took over, scoring a couple of threes to finish with 22 points. The naturalised American Mike Tobey notably had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Slovenia's head coach Aleksander Sekulić said that the match had been understandably emotional as it was the first ever for Slovenia at the Olympics.

"We played our game, and we were especially efficient on offence ... and we had the exceptional Luka Dončić. We lost focus for a few minutes at the end, but it was nevertheless a very good game and we can be satisfied."

Dončić added that Argentina was a very good team and that it was difficult for him as the opponent played very good defence. "The first Olympic game is behind us, it is a large win and the feelings are very special."

Dončić was also praised by Argentina head coach Sergio Hernandez. "We tried to stop him from getting the ball and cut him off the team, because we knew he would get his points. He was able to respond to every defence we threw at him."

Slovenia is on pace to qualify for the elimination round but will probably need at least one more win out of Thursday's encounter with the hosts Japan and Sunday's match-up with Spain in Group B.

25 Jul 2021, 06:47 AM

STA, 24 July 2021 - Reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar won the bronze medal in the men's cycling road race at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday in what is the first Olympic medal in cycling for Slovenia. Ecuador's Richard Carapaz won the race.

The photo finish showed that the 22-year-old Pogačar was within a hair's breadth of the silver Olympic medal as he crossed the finish line only a few centimetres behind the second-placed Wout van Aert from Belgium.

"This is something completely unbelievable, I'm speechless," he told the public broadcaster TV Slovenija after bagging the bronze Olympic medal, adding that "a medal is a medal".

He described the 234 km road race with the elevation gain of 4,865 metres as one of the toughest ones in his career so far, saying there had been a lot of factors that made it difficult such as heat and high humidity.

"I'd been suffering since the last climb, but I gave it my best shot," he added.

Primož Roglič, another pre-race favourite and Pogačar's compatriot, placed 28th. The 31-year-old withdrew from this year's Tour de France due to several crashes and ensuing injuries, but told the public broadcaster ahead of today's race that he was feeling better and was ready for the Summer Olympics.

He will have another chance to bag an Olympic medal on Wednesday when he will compete in the men's time trial.

The other two Slovenian riders competing in the race, Jan Polanc and Jan Tratnik, placed below 40th with Tratnik having done the lion's share in keeping the Slovenian team ahead as he set a hard tempo train for some 100 kilometres.

The race featured five climbs, including an ascent partway up to Mount Fuji (14.3 km at 6%) and the culmination of the event, the steep Mikuni Pass climb (6.5 km at 10.6%), where the first attacks to cross the finish line first started today.

Pogačar's bronze medal is the first medal for Slovenia at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the first Slovenian Olympic medal in cycling.

When it comes to the Summer Olympics, the country fared best at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when it won a total of five medals. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics it got four medals.

A total of 54 Slovenian athletes are in the running for Olympic medals at the Tokyo Olympics, which will end on 8 August.

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