Sport

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.

23 Jul 2021, 17:37 PM

STA, 23 July 2021 - Slovenia will be fielding a total of 54 athletes at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, taking place from 23 July to 8 August, including numerous candidates for medals. This is actually the smallest Slovenian team at the Summer Olympics since 1996, even though the men's national basketball team makes its appearance for the first time.

In 1996 in Atlanta, US, Slovenia fielded 37 athletes, after appearing for the first time as an independent nation in Barcelona in 192 with 35 participants. The largest team was fielded in Athens in 2004 (79).

This year the Summer Olympics will feature the Slovenian men's basketball team for the first time, headlined by the young NBA superstar Luka Dončić.

Dončić is only one big name from Slovenia coming to Tokyo, as the team features three medal winners from Rio and numerous other favourites in many sports.

Tina Trstenjak will be defending her gold medal in the women's 63kg category in judo, and at least three others are expected to compete for medals, including Ana Velenšek, the bronze medallist in the women's 78kg category from Rio.

In kayak/canoe, all eyes will be on Peter Kauzer, who won a silver medal in Brazil four years ago, and the other two whitewater stars - Benjamin Savšek and Eva Terčelj, the latter being the reigning world champion in the women's K1.

According to pundits, one of the largest medal favourites from Slovenia is sport climber Janja Garnbret, who has been almost unbeatable in international competitions lately in the lead and bouldering disciplines.

Garnbret has also made great progress in speed climbing, and is undoubtedly the main favourite for the win in this new Olympic discipline, while her team mate Mia Krampl will be looking for an opportunity from out of the spotlight.

A chapter of its own is cycling, where Slovenia will be represented by four cyclists, including the recent double Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, and his older compatriot Primož Roglič, also one of the best world cyclists at the moment.

On the other hand, golfer Pia Babnik, who scored the first Slovenian win at the Ladies European Tour in June, will represent Slovenia in golf, while in athletics the country counts the most on the young discus thrower Kristjan Čeh.

While Slovenia is fielding the men's basketball team for the first time at the Olympics, it would not be surprising if the team ends up competing for medals, as it cruised to an Olympic berth at a recent qualifying tournament in Lithuania.

Kayaker Terčelj and table tennis player Bojan Tokić will bear the Slovenian flag at the opening ceremony, with the former saying that the task was difficult, while also being a great joy and honour.

"I am honoured, but it is also a great responsibility to bear the flag and representing Slovenia and its colours there. I will give my best for this task and enjoy this special event," Terčelj added.

According to the Associated Press, Slovenia is projected to win seven medals at the Olympics, including one gold, by Janja Garnbret in sport climbing.

22 Jul 2021, 14:40 PM

STA, 22 July 2021 - Slovenian freediver Alenka Artnik has further improved the constant weight world record she set three days ago by plunging as far as 122 metres deep at the Vertical Blue competition in the Bahamas.

"The dive was absolutely magical, so controlled and relaxed," Artnik said in announcing her feat in a post on her Facebook profile.

Artnik set a new world record in her discipline three days ago, diving 120 metres deep into Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island, the Bahamas.

This was after she entered the competition with a dive of 118 metres.

She said she would write a bit more about her latest achievement later, adding: "Now I just want to enjoy the moment and rest."

She also posted photos of her newest record-breaking dive, which lasted 3:34 minutes.

20 Jul 2021, 11:58 AM

STA, 20 July 2021 - Slovenian cyclist Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates), fresh from his win of the Tour de France, has taken the lead in the rankings of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for the second time in his brief professional career.

Another Slovenian, Primož Roglič (Jumbo Visma), topped the rankings before the Tour, but having left the race early due to a series of injuries, he is now in third place, behind his teammate Wout Van Aert from the Netherlands.

Pogačar has 4,088 points, 207 points ahead of Van Aert and 777 points on Roglič.

The 22-year-old had jumped to the top of the UCI rankings after his Tour victory last year, but was quickly overtaken by Roglič, who won the Vuelta last November to regain the lead.

With the exception of the brief two-week slip last year, Roglič had topped the UCI rankings from 15 September 2019.

18 Jul 2021, 20:12 PM

STA, 18 July 2021 - Top seed Tamara Zidanšek, the French Open semi-finalist, won the WTA Lousanne Open in Switzerland on Sunday beating France's Clara Burel in the finals after a good two hours with 4:6, 7:6 (5) and 6:1 for what is her first-ever WTA tournament victory.

Zidanšek, the world's number 50, won the Lousanne title as she played in the finals of a WTA tournament for the third time today - after Bogota in April and Nürnberg in 2019.

"I'm really happy I managed to win it, and now I got that under my belt," Zidanšek told wtatennis.com following her victory.

"The conditions were tricky, I didn't start well. But from 1-5, I got three [consecutive] games, and I started feeling a little bit better. I just kept telling myself to keep fighting, go for every point. In tennis, everything can change in one point, so I'm really happy with the way I managed to stay in the match."

Last month she made Slovenian tennis history by making it to the semi-finals of the French Open, in what was only the second semi-final appearance for a Slovenian woman tennis player in the singles competition at a Grand Slam tournament in almost four decades and a half.

Today the 23-year-old Slovenian she said that the "semifinals of Roland Garros showed me that my game is good enough to compete with the best".

She is currently the world's number 50, but will progress among the top 40 as the WAT rankings are refreshed on Monday. Her best ranking ever was 46th spot on 21 June.

Burel, the world's youth champion in 2018, is meanwhile the world's No. 125.

17 Jul 2021, 19:18 PM

STA, 17 July 2021 - At 22 years of age Slovenian rider Tadej Pogačar secured his second straight overall victory of the Tour de France by placing 8th in the penultimate stage, the time-trial between Libourne and Saint-Emilion.

To win his second yellow jersey, the Team UAE Emirates's rider needs but to survive the final stage concluding on the Champs-Élysées, when the leading rider's lead is a rule not contested.

Today's stage was won by Belgian Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), followed by Dane Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and his compatriot Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).

Pogačar clocked a lag of 57 seconds to place 8th, but commands an unassailable lead of 5:20 minutes ahead of the runner-up Vingegaard heading into the final stage

Ecuador's Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) is third overall, 7:03 minutes behind the leader after placing 23rd today.

Pogačar is thus set to be the youngest two-time winner of the world's biggest cycling race in its 118-year history.

"I'm super happy to finish - it went so fast. There was so much support on the course, I was just enjoying every moment though I was suffering as it was super hot," said.

He said he could not compare last year's Tour victory, when he defeated fellow Slovenian rider Primož Roglič in the time trial in the penultimate stage; "Last year was something else. This year is just different."

17 Jul 2021, 09:10 AM

STA, 16 July 2021 - Slovenia's Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) won stage 19 of the Tour de France from Mourenx to Libourne on Friday after attacking 25km from finish, surging clear from a large breakaway group.

"During this stage I noticed I had good legs, but there was no real cooperation in the first breakaway group. I convinced them we have to keep high rhythm so that sprint teams could no longer control our breakaway," the 26-year-old Mohorič said after the race.

"When Nils Politt attacked, I was on the edge, saying to myself that if that is the hardest moment, I have to give it my best even if I end up on the side of the road. I did my best and when I looked back, there was nobody... I used all of my energy, but fortunately I managed to keep the lead ahead of the fellow chasers."

Mohorič's win of the 207km stage is his second at this year's Tour de France after he won the longest leg of 249 km on 2 July.

His is also the fifth stage win for Slovenia's riders at the world's No.1 cycling race this year, with the remaining three credited to Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), the defending champion, who is in the overall lead.

This is Mohorič's 14th win in professional cycling, of which two came at the other two major three-week races - the 2017 Vuelta and at Giro d'Italia in 2018.

Wearing the yellow jersey, Pogačar finished today more than 20 minutes behind the winner, but commands an almost six minute lead ahead of the runner-up Jonas Vingegaard (Dan/Jumbo-Visma).

Commenting on the development of Slovenian professional cycling in the light of Mohorič's win, Pogačar said: "This feels great. In Slovenia we always also wanted to succeed in cycling. We were good, now we are winning. It's really great."

15 Jul 2021, 21:26 PM

STA, 15 July 2021 - Slovenia's cycling sensation, Tadej Pogačar won a second stage at the Tour de France in as many days to increase his overall lead and secure the polka-dot jersey of best climber.

The defending champion was first through the finish line on the mountain stage from Pau to Luz Ardiden of the break-away group that clashed up the final slope.

The Slovenian UAE Team Emirates rider finished two seconds ahead of Dane Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) in second and Ecuador's Richardo Carapaz in third.

He has thus likely secured an unassailable overall lead ahead of Saturday's time trial, he only needs to get safely to the finish in the Champs-Elysées to bask in glory of a two-time winner of the world's biggest road cycling race.

Overall, the 22-year-old is now 5:45 minutes ahead of Vingegaard. Carapaz is third with a lag of six seconds behind the Dane.

With the stage win, Pogačar also secured the lead in the polka-dot race with a 19-point lead ahead of Dutchman Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) with only two more points available until the end of the race.

"It's unbelievable [...] after yesterday, today, I don't know what to say - I felt good and I'm really happy with the win [...] it's crazy," Pogačar told the Tour organiser after his amazing feat today.

14 Jul 2021, 18:40 PM

STA, 14 July 2021 - Slovenia's cycling star and yellow jersey wearer Tadej Pogačar won the 17th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday to increase his overall lead. Pogačar, the defending champion riding for UAE Emirates team, remains the man to beat at this year's race ahead of the final four stages.

Pogačar tackled the punishing Col du Portet climb in the 178.4 km stage with aplomb and made his decisive attack just 100 metres from the line to seal the second Tour de France stage win this year and secure precious seconds as the race leader.

Facing the final four stages, he is five minutes and 39 seconds ahead of the second-placed Jonas Vingegaard from Denmark (Team Jumbo-Visma). In third place is Ecuador's Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers).

"A fantastic day. To win in a yellow jersey is something I cannot describe," the 22-year-old Pogačar told the organisers.

What now awaits Pogačar and other riders looking to beat him is the final mountain test on Thursday, less hilly terrain on Friday, the 31km time trial on Saturday and the final stage on Sunday.

13 Jul 2021, 16:04 PM

STA, 13 July 2021 - Primož Roglič, who had to quit the Tour of France early due to injuries, will compete for Slovenia at the Tokyo Olympic Games both in the road race and the individual time trial, according to the newspaper Delo.

"I'm happy to confirm that Primož will appear in both races," Slovenia's men's cycling team head coach Andrej Hauptman said as quoted by Delo on Tuesday.

"He is not yet in top shape, but he will do everything in his power to be in top form in Tokyo," said Hauptman in France, where he serves as sports director for UAE Team Emirates, the team of Tadej Pogačar, the Slovenian who has been successfully defending the overall leader's yellow jersey at the Tour.

The men's road race in Tokyo is scheduled for the second day of the Games, 24 July, and the men's individual time trial will be held on 28 July.

Along with Roglič, Slovenia's men's cycling team will also feature Pogačar, Jan Polanc and Jan Tratnik. Had his injuries prevented him from appearing, Roglič would be replaced by Luka Mezgec.

"If we have the world's No. 1 and No. 2, we cannot head for the Olympics merely to take part. We will do all in our power to achieve excellent results. I cannot say we won't aim for the top," Hauptman told Delo.

However, he also said that "there are only three medals and the candidates are countless".

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