Slovenian basketball player Luka Dončić has confirmed that he will play for the Slovenian national team in the Olympic qualifiers which will take place from June 23-28, 2020.
Dončić, who is currently playing for Dallas Mavericks in the NBA, told AS, the Spanish sports magazine, that he is also hoping for his NBA team to qualify for the playoffs this season, which will take place between April 19 and June 5th, 2020.
When exactly Dončić can return to his national team therefore depends on the success of the Mavericks this season, who are currently ranked seventh in the Western conference. The first eight teams of each two conferences qualify for the playoffs. For all non-qualifying teams, the regular season ends on April 15, 2020.
The last time Dončić played for the national team was in 2017, when Slovenia won the European Championship under the brilliant guidance of team’s leader Goran Dragić and the chief coach Igor Kokoškov. Dragić has meanwhile retired from the national team while Kokoškov has, following Slovenia’s unsuccessful bid for World Championship in China, recently switched to the Serbian national team, whom Slovenia surprisingly beat in the 2017 Eurobasket finals.
Whether Slovenia is going to meet Serbia in the Olympic qualifiers will be decided by a draw on November 27, 2019, which will determine which of the five teams Slovenia will need to play against in order to end up first in the group and hence qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
STA, 17 November 2019 - The Slovenian men's national football team beat Latvia 1:0 in Ljubljana on Saturday evening in the penultimate round of qualifying for the UEFA Euro 2020, but the door to the tournament have been closed as Austria defeated North Macedonia to claim the second place in Group G.
Despite having only slight theoretical chances of making it to the UEFA Euro 2020, Slovenia played very well in front of the home crowd of some 11,000 in the rainy Stožice Stadium, but failed to score in the first half.
It was actually Latvia's Igors Tarasovs who scored an own goal in the 53rd minute to give Slovenia an 1:0 advantage, which they kept until the end, while having some more good chances to increase the lead.
However, the win was to no avail as Austria, the main rivals for the second spot in the group, which directly leads to the final tournament, beat North Macedonia 2:1 in Vienna last evening to join the group winners Poland as the runner-up.
Speaking after the match, which ended before Austria played North Macedonia, Slovenia's head coach Matjaž Kek said that "we showed our will and desire, but also uncertainty in certain moments."
Forward Andraž Šporar said that it was a must-win game after the two losses in the October round of the qualifying, in which the Latvians "eventually scored an own goal, if we weren't able to, but the three points is what counts."
With 14 points out of nine matches, Slovenia are currently third in the group, trailing Austria (19) and Poland (22), whom they will play in Warsaw on Tuesday to wrap up the unsuccessful qualifiers.
STA, 12 November 2019 - The designers of the Planica Nordic Centre in north-eastern Slovenia has received a gold medal for an architectural achievement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) among almost 100 competing projects.
The awards were announced at the 26th international IAKS congress in Cologne, Germany, last week, and presented officially on Tuesday by the Slovenian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.
The Nordic skiing complex with one ski flying hill, seven ski jumping hills and a cross-country skiing track is one of the seven recipients of the gold medals among a total of 98 competing projects.
What speaks of the success of the Planica Nordic Centre is that the award for an architectural achievement in the past went to the likes of Beijing National Stadium, also called The Bird's Nest, and National Stadium in Singapore.
For instance, the latter cost EUR 1.2 billion build, while the cost of the Planica Nordic Centre was around EUR 48 million.
The project by three architectural firms (Stvar, Abiro and Akka) has been recognised by an international jury as a "modern complex created by expanding and modernising the existing facilities in the Triglav National Park."
According to the jury, it is noted for versatile and year-round use for elite sport and major international events, as well as tourism and recreation, and is marked by its clear, linear design in harmony with the landscape.
The jury has also been impressed by the "magnificent integration of the facility into the landscape" and the use of an underground tunnel for cross-country skiing in the summer.
Matej Blenkuš of Abiro said at today's event that while there were financial constraints, the architects were happy to "build in one of the most beautiful environments in Slovenia."
Such an environment puts overly ambitious architects on realistic grounds, as it sends a message that no one should date to change such an environment," he added.
Aleš Vodopivec of Stvar said that the project was an "unbelievable challenge, but the award proves that we have been successful".
Apart from hosting the Ski Jumping World Cup finale every year, the Planica Nordic Centre will host the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2023, at which tens of thousands of fans are expected to show up.
All our stories on Planica are here
STA, 11 November 2019 - Slovenian Rea Kolbl has defended her title of the women's world champion in the top category at the Spartan Ultra obstacle course race in Sweden's Aare, covering 112 kilometres in difficult weather conditions and terrain in a challenge lasting a full 24 hours.
The 28-year-old Slovenian was the last woman standing in the race in the elite category, and the only one to run the last, 14th lap, to celebrate victory in what was probably the most difficult course in the history of the series.
Kolbl started the race at midnight, defying extreme conditions, including sub-zero temperatures, to conquer more than 8,500 metres in altitude difference and go over 350 obstacles.
"It was very difficult. I had to improvise a lot, but the beauty of such races is exactly in being able to solve problems quickly when many things start to go wrong, from the weather to selection of food and equipment," she said.
"I had started thinking about giving up one lap before the end because of cramps, but I'm happy that I pushed myself some more and beat all the competitors," she added after winning her third title in a row.
Born in Ljubljana, Kolbl has lived and trained in Colorado, US, for ten years, and is the only Slovenian competitor in obstacle course racing in the world at the highest level.
As a youngster she trained artistic gymnastics, winning a national championship several times and representing Slovenia internationally.
After finishing secondary school in Ljubljana, Kolbl graduated in astrophysics at University of California, Berkeley, publishing her first article in the Science academic journal at 22 years of age.
It was in the US that she fell in love with running, cycling and skiing, establishing herself as a trail runner in distances up to 50 miles between 2012 and 2016, setting several records.
Later on, she added skyrunning - extreme mountain running above 2,000 metres of altitude - and obstacle course racing, being particularly fond of the challenges in the Spartan Race series.
More than 200 events are taking place each year as part of the series, featuring more than a million competitors, from elite athletes to recreationists, in around 40 countries.
Kolbl also came to Sweden as an ambassador of Spartan Race Slovenia, the first mountain obstacle course race in the country, which will be hosted by Kranjska Gora between 22 and 24 May 2020.
"I would like to inspire people to go outdoor, to join me in the mountains and competition courses," she had told the newspaper Dnevnik.
STA, 27 October 2019 - Ethiopian runner Kelkile Gezahegn Woldaregay won the men's marathon race in Ljubljana on Sunday, clocking in at 2:07:29, the second fastest time in the history of the Ljubljana course. The women's race was won by Bornes Chepkirui Kitur from Kenya, who set a new women's record with a finish time of 2:21:26.
Woldaregay's time comes second only to that of his fellow countryman Sisay Lemma Kasaye, who managed a splendid 2:04:58 last year but was not in Ljubljana this year, while Kitur improved on the women's record of 2:22:58 set in 2018 by Kenyan Visiline Jepkesho.
Kelkile Gezahegn Woldaregay. Source: LJ Marathon Facebook
Second and third place in the men's race went to Kenyans Anthony Maritim (2:07:52) and Vincent Rono (2:08:06), and in the women's competition to Eshete Shitaye from Bahrain (2:21:33) and Kenyan Dina Chemtai Kipoyogei (2:22:07).
The best Slovenian runners at the race and thereby the Slovenian national marathon champions were Primož Kobe (2:29:53), who finished ninth, and Saša Pisk (2:56:50), who was 12th.
This year's Ljubljana Marathon, a two-day event, had 19,612 runners, including over 7,000 youngsters who participated in Saturday's junior races. Today's 10 km, 21 km and 42 km events had 12,440 participants.
The head of the organising committee Gojko Zalokar was happy with the event, including the results, noting that two fast Ethiopian pacemakers had not been able to attend after to obtain visas.
The budget of this year's marathon was EUR 1.4 million, while it exceeded EUR 1.6 million last year as a result of bonuses for new records both in the men's and women's competition. Zalokar explained that last year's winner got a total of 90,000 for his victory and bonuses.
It was a disappointing weekend for Slovene climbing fans in the penultimate Speed and Lead World Cup of the season in Xiamen (China), as Slovenian athletes didn’t win any medals in any of the categories.
Xiamen’s Lead World Cup started this past Saturday, October 19th, with the qualification round. Bad route-setting was a constant all over the weekend, but we could see a first glimpse of it on this first stage, as four women, including Janja Garnbret and Lučka Rakovec, topped both routes in their category – usually it’s highly unlikely than even one competitor can achieve it. Moreover, fourteen female athletes made it to hold 35+ on the first route, and topped the second one.
All three Slovene women who were competing (Garnbret, Rakovec and Krampl) progressed to semifinals on Sunday, where spectators were hoping for a better route-setting that could make the competition slightly more interesting. However, this didn’t happen, and again it was too easy for the athletes to make it to higher points of the wall, as seventeen climbers made it to hold 33+ or higher, including Lučka Rakovec and Janja Garnbret, who topped the route. Mia Krampl, on the other hand, slipped on hold 18 and was out of the final round.
Fans were hoping that after such disastrous rounds the route-setting would improve for the finals, but they were disappointed. Sadly, the route was once again too easy and the climbers cruised up the wall. With the exception of Ai Mori, who fell on hold 10+, all the other athletes made it to hold 31+ or higher. Janja Garnbret and Lučka Rakovec fell on the last move of the route, but even that was not enough to make it to the podium and they finished in 4th and 6th places after the countback to the semifinals. Unfortunately, this meant that Janja now has no chance of winning the overall lead title in 2019, which would have meant that she’d won everything this season. This doesn’t mean, however, that this season hasn’t been a dream for Slovenia’s female climbers. Garnbret has won the Overall Bouldering Title and has also won a gold medal in all three categories she competed in (Lead, Bouldering and Combined) in the World Championships held two months ago; Rakovec has won her first gold medal in a European Championship and a bronze one in an International World Cup; and Mia Krampl won Silver medal on the Lead World Championship.
The situation was no better on men’s side, and again the route-setting can only be described as poor. Thirty-five athletes out of 53 topped the second route, and eight of them topped both. As a result, for example, both of the Slovene men (Jernej Kruder and Anže Preharc) were out of the semifinals round, even though they topped one route and made it further to hold 30+, a really high up stage on the wall.
However, thanks to this results we now have new Overall Lead World Champions in men’s and women’s categories. Although Adam Ondra (CZE) only participated in three World Cups, he has successfully claimed the title after winning all three competitions. On the women’s side, Chaehyun Seo (KOR), the revelation of the season who is only 15 years old, won the overall title.
Xiamen was also the site of the Speed World Cup, where non-speed specialist such as Adam Ondra himself had to compete in order to be able to participate in the Olympic Combined Qualifier that will take place in Toulouse in a month. As the highlight of the competition, Aries Susanti Rahayu (INDO) broke the female world record in Speed for the final round, reaching the top in 6.995 seconds. She is the first woman to complete the speed route in less than 7 seconds.
The last Lead World Cup event of the season will take place this next weekend in Inzai, Japan. As the main titles have already a winner, we will have to wait and see which athletes actually decide to participate in the last World Cup of the year, and hope that the route-setting is better this time.
STA, 14 October 2019 - Austria delivered what could be a fatal blow to Slovenia's chances to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2020, beating the home team in Stožice Stadium 1:0 on Sunday evening. Slovenia now have only a very slim theoretical chance of making it to the final tournament.
After scoring three wins in a row in Group G, the men's national football team suffered two straight defeats in the September schedule, first losing to North Macedonia in Skopje on Thursday and then to Austria at home yesterday.
Slovenia are now tied with North Macedonia at eleven points, trailing Poland, who have already qualified for the Euro 2020 (19 points) and Austria (16). The latter need only one point from the remaining two matches to qualify.
It was a do-or-die match for Slovenia last evening in the sold-out Stožice Stadium, with more than 15,000 spectators watching, but the guests proved to be a tough opponent right from the start, attacking the Slovenian goal left and right.
It was in the 21st minute when defender Stefan Posch scored a header assisted from a corner kick for the 1:0 lead for Austria, which turned to be the final score of the match.
Slovenia struggled to pose any threat to the Austrian goal for the entire match, and the frustration escalated in the 89th minute, when Denis Popović elbowed an Austrian player in the face to be sent off with a red card.
Slovenia's head coach Matjaž Kek said it was a "hurtful defeat" and congratulated Austria for being "a better team today". He said that it was not that his players lacked aggressiveness and willpower, but the problem was organisation.
Midfielder Miha Zajc said that the team should not look at the standings and should continue to want to win. "We have proved that we can beat everybody ... and we must analyse our game and make improvements, start to win."
Slovenia will have a one-month break in the qualifiers before playing the last-placed Latvia (0 points) at home on 16 November and wrap up the campaign three days later in Warsaw against the group-leading Poland.
Slovenia would have to win both matches and Austria lose to North Macedonia at home and to Latvia on the road for the former to leapfrog the Austrians on the standings and qualify for the final tournament.
STA, 11 October 2019 - After scoring three wins in a row, the Slovenian men's national football team suffered a setback on their way to the final tournament as it lost 1:2 to North Macedonia in Skopje on Thursday evening. They will now have to go for a win against Austria in Ljubljana on Sunday to remain in play.
Three matches to go in Group E of the qualifiers, Slovenia are now tied with North Macedonia at eleven points, trailing Poland (16) and Austria (13), who took care of business yesterday by beating Latvia and Israel, respectively.
Slovenia came to the North Macedonian capital confident they could continue the winning streak but the things proved to be tough in Toše Proeski Arena in front of some 16,500 fans, with the first half ending without goals.
It was Elif Elmas who scored for North Macedonia in the 50th to make things tougher for Slovenia, and the same player converted a nice pass by Arijan Ademi in the 68th minute for what proved to be an insurmountable 2:0 lead for the home team.
Some consolation for Slovenia came in the stoppage time, as they were awarded a penalty kick after a found on Miha Zajc. The veteran attacking midfielder Josip Iličić was precise to set the final score at 1:2.
Slovenia's head coach Matjaž Kek congratulated North Macedonia on "more than a deserved win", adding that Slovenia were "too weak to earn some more."
Turning to what could be a decisive match with Austria on Sunday, he said that "a top quality team is coming to Ljubljana and I hope we will look better than today."
After the match with Austria, there will be a one-month break in the qualifiers before Slovenia play the hapless Latvia (0 points) at home on 16 November and wraps up the campaign three days later in Warsaw against Poland.
After last week’s IFSC World Cup in Kranj, sport climbing moved to Edinburgh for the European Championships in Lead and Speed categories. After IFSC World Cups, these are one of the most important competitions in sport climbing, and fans were eager to see who could get the medals.
All Slovene eyes were set on Lučka Rakovec after her first bronze medal seven days prior to this event, and she did not disappoint. She safely made it to the semi-finals in 4th position and was ready to fight in Sunday’s afternoon final round. Young climber Luce Douady, the first one out at the final, set a really high point – hold 43 – but it was Lučka who broke it some minutes later after achieving an impressive 46+. After her performance it was clear that the route for the final, although it wasn’t extremely hard on a technical level, required plenty of endurance and a quick climbing style to make it to the top, which at the end became the key factor to separate the athletes. No other climber could make it higher than new Slovene rising star, and Lučka claimed her first gold medal in a senior competition.
Tjaša Kalan was the second Slovene woman to compete in the finals, and although she looked strong on the first part of the route she got stuck after hold 19 and lost a lot of valuable time trying to get over this obstacle. She managed to move on, however, but was already pumped after her fight and fell shortly after on hold 22+.
Legend Mina Markovič (she has won 21 IFSC World Cups) also made it to the finals. Her climbing style was secure through all the route, but when she made it to the final section of the wall she couldn’t find a good combination of moves to get to the top, and fell just one hold before the medal positions.
After Lučka, the podium was completed by Laura Rogora in second place and Luce Douady in third position. Since all of them are 18 years old or younger, we can safely say that sport climbing has an exciting future in the upcoming years.
As for the men, Martin Bergant qualified in 8th position in the semi-finals and successfully made it to his first Senior Lead Final. On this stage, he set the first high point of the competition (hold 34+) and remained at the top of the ranking until Alberto Ginés López, from Spain, jumped on the wall and fell after hold 38+. Martin was really close to the bronze medal, and although both him and Sascha Lehmann reached the same hold before falling. Sascha had more time left on the clock, which meant that he was awarded with 3rd place while Martin finished 4th. Nevertheless, this is not a bad result at all for the 23-year-old climber from Škofija Loka, who will surely deliver more good performances in the near future.
Luka Potocar also qualified for his First Senior Lead Final after an impressive performance in the semi-finals. However, when it was his turn to climb, he made a route reading mistake and went on the wrong path on the wall, and unfortunately he fell really early on.
No other surprises happened, and Adam Ondra successfully achieved the high point on the route at hold 45+, winning once again a Lead event and proving, for those of who still doubted it, that he can definitely qualify for the 2020 Olympics in next month’s event in Toulouse.
Janja Garnbret did not attend this event.
All our stories on sport climbing are here
STA, 7 October 2019 - Slovenian boxer Ema Kozin won five world titles on Sunday, having out-boxed Swedish Maria Lindberg at Stožice Arena in Ljubljana and defended her World Boxing Federation (WBF) Women's World Champion title of the Super Middleweight class in what was a successful night for other Slovenian fighters as well.
The 20-year-old boxer, nicknamed The Princess, won five world champion titles yesterday - apart from the WBF one, also the titles of the Women's International Boxing Federation, the Women's International Boxing Association, the Global Boxing Union and the International Boxing Association in the Super Middleweight division.
Kozin won a hard fought unanimous decision in front of a raucous home crowd, with Lindberg showing a disappointment with the judges' decision at the side of the ring after a close fight.
"You need two people for a good fight. I understand the Swedish fighter was disappointed since the fight was really close, but I do think I was better," said Kozin after the win.
The best Slovenian male boxer Dejan Zavec was also in the audience, supporting Kozin on her way to the five titles.
Kozin won the WBF World Super Middleweight crown last March. She is famous for being a hard-punching and technically gifted southpaw.
Yesterday's CFC 5 fight night featured twelve fights, including Slovenian boxer Andrej Baković in the super welterweight weight class and Monika Kučinić in the K1 division.
The former out-boxed Serbian fighter Martin Bošković and is on an unbeaten run, securing 10 wins out of 10 professional matches, while the latter beat Italy's Irene Roggio, who threw in the towel already in the first round.
Another Slovenia's win was secured by Bojan Kosnedar, nicknamed The Turtle, who won the Cage Fight Championship (CFC) title in a Mixed Martial Arts fight with Slavoljub Mitić from Serbia.
STA, 6 October 2019 - Lučka Rakovec became the European lead champion in Edinburgh on Sunday, adding another highlight to what has been a spectacular season for Slovenian sports climbing.
This is the biggest success in the career of 18-year-old Rakovec and confirms Slovenia has an incredible wealth of sports climbing talent that goes well beyond the reigning triple world champion Janja Garnbret who is not competing in Edinburgh.
Garnbret also won lead gold at the August World Championships in Hachioji while silver went to her compatriot Mia Krampl.
What is more, courtesy of Urška Repušič and Vita Lukan, gold and silver also went to Slovenia at the September European bouldering championships in Zakopane.