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.
STA, 5 October 2019 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič of the Dutch team Team Jumbo-Visma won the single-stage Giro d'Emillia race on Saturday to add to his numerous feats this year, which include the overall win at the prestigious Vuelta a Espana.
The Giro dell'Emilia is held annually in Bologna, Italy. Since 2005, it has been organised as a second-tier event organised by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as part of the UCI Europe Tour.
Roglič won the 103rd edition of the race, a 207-km stage between Bologna and San Luca, finishing 15 seconds ahead Michael Woods of Canada and Sergio Higuita of Colombia.
The first Slovenian to win this traditional race has won this season the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de Romandie and Vuelta a Espana to establish himself as one of the finest riders in the world at the moment.
Roglič already won the stage of this year's Giro d'Italia, in which he finished third, which featured the same climb as the Giro d'Emillia.
The last time I was here I won, and for this reason I certainly like San Luca very much," said the 29-year-old, who will take part in another two races before the end of the season - in Varese and Lombardy.
Slovene sport climbing fans had an intense weekend, with the arrival of the IFSC Lead Climbing World Cup to Kranj. The competition landed in Slovenia with a wide range of possibilities ahead. Before this weekend, on women’s competition Chaehyun Seo from Korea was leading the way with two victories, while local hero Janja Ganrbret closely followed in the second place in the overall ranking.
Kranj’s World Cup started on Saturday with the qualification round. After a strong performance on this stage, Garnbret safely moved to the semi-finals after she topped one route and made it to hold 39+ on the second one. However, she fell really low down on the wall at the semi-finals, missing her second final in this year’s lead competition. This means that after this weekend, although she is still in second place in the overall ranking with 243 points, it is less likely that she will be able to win the lead title.
On the other hand, Mia Krampl and Lučka Rakoveč safely made it to the finals, which took place on Sunday evening in front of a massive, delighted crowd. Mia Krampl went first, and although she looked really strong in the first half of the route, she almost slipped on hold 20, and after she tried to go for hold 21 she sadly fell down. Certainly not the final Mia was expecting, but surely she will go for the win on upcoming competitions. As a matter of fact, holds 20 and 21 became a problem for some of the athletes, as four of them went down at this point.
However, when Lučka Rakoveč, the other female Slovene athlete, jumped on the mats, the audience went crazy once again. Her climbing style was powerful and secure, and she safely made it through holds 20 and 21 without further ado. Lučka started to look slightly pumped after her rest on the overhanging part of the wall, and fell down after hold 34+. After the last climber out, Ai Mori, also went down on hold 20+ – the same as Mia Krampl – Lučka secured a bronze medal in Kranj’s World Cup, successfully achieving her first podium in a Lead World Cup. As she did on the past World Cups, Chaehyun Seo secured her third win of the season reaching to hold 34.5+, while Jessica Pilz from Austria claimed the silver medal with a 34.5.
As for the rest of female Slovene athletes, Tjaša Kalan, Lana Skušek and Mina Markovič made it to the semi-finals and ended up in 10th, 11th and 15th places. Lucija Tarkuš finished her competition in 41st place in the qualification round.
On the men’s side, Alexander Megos (Germany) and Sasha Lehmann (Switzerland) and William Bosi (United Kingdom) were battling over the first positions on the overall ranking. However, several surprises waited ahead over the weekend as all of them missed this competition. All eyes were therefore on Adam Ondra after he missed his first chance to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and Jakob Schubert (two times Overall Lead World Cup Winner).
Adam Ondra on the wall. YouTube
The first did not disappoint and absolutely dominated all competition rounds. He topped both routes in qualification, finished on hold 39+ – almost the top – at the semi-finals and once again topped the final route, being the only man who actually made it past hold 32. Impressive performance by the Czech climber, who was a crowd-pleaser and delivered a great show for local audience.
No such luck for Jakob Schubert, who was the penultimate athlete to jump into the mats and had to deal with hold 12+ losing its friction as the competition went on. After he didn’t find a good position to face this problem, he fell down before even reaching the middle of the route.
Surprises were not over as Kai Harada, a climber who usually performs better on boulder categories, finished his competition in 2nd place, and young rising star Alberto Ginés Lopez, a 16-year-old from Spain, made it to his first Lead World Cup Podium in 3rd position.
As for the Slovene male athletes, none of them could make it into the final. Luka Potočar, Martin Bergant and Anze Peharc performed really well on semi-final round but could only make it to13th, 15th and 16th positions. In the qualification round, Jernej Kruder, Žiga Zajc, Milan Preskar and Andrej Polak finished in 42nf, 45th, 52th and 56th places.
With only two Lead World Cups remaining, Janja Garnbret, Mia Krampl and Lučka Rakovec will be able to perform her last battles of the season to secure positions in the overall lead podium. Next stop will be Xiamen (China), from the 18th till the 20th of October.
Janja Garnbret is, the figures show, the best climber in the history of sport climbing, lead and boulder, but she failed to make the final in front of a home crowd in Kranj this weekend, and thus was able to enjoy the event from a new perspective. The women’s lead was won by South Korea’s Chaehyun Seo, with silver and bronze taken by Jessica Pilz (Austria) and Lučka Rakovec (Slovenia), respectively. Other Slovene’s in the top 20 were Mia Krampl (7th), Tjaša Kalan (10th), Lana Skušek (11th), Janja Garnbret (13th), and Mina Markovič (15th).
With regard to the men, the event was won by Adam Ondra, followed by Kai Harada and Alberto Ginés López. The highest ranked Slovene was Luka Potočar, in 13th place.
STA, 29 September 2019 - The Slovenian men's national volleyball team won another silver at the European Championship after losing the final match to Serbia 1:3 in Paris on Sunday.
After making an improbable run in the home arena in Ljubljana, beating the European champions Russia and world champions Poland in the process, Slovenia had to concede to Serbia even though they won the first set.
It was a complete turnaround for Serbia, who eliminated the home team France in the semi-finals in an epic battle which lasted five sets, and then beat Slovenia for their third gold at the European championships, coming after the wins in 2001 and 2011.
For Slovenia this is meanwhile the second silver medal on the European stage, coming after the second place at the championship played in Italy and Bulgaria 2015, when the Slovenians had to concede to France in the finals.
This time, Slovenia was powered to the finals by the home crowd who came in thousands to Stožice Arena to cheer for the home team as it made its way from Group C and to the finals past Bulgaria, Russia and Poland in the elimination matches.
Captain Tine Urnaut was a bit disappointed after the loss, telling reporters that the team had wanted to win badly but admitting that the Serbs played better, especially on defence.
He was nevertheless happy with the experience, saying that Slovenia were actually proud of winning another silver, pointing to the Slovenian crowd who came to France and saying it was "something phenomenal".
"Great thanks to them for supporting us in Slovenia, through all the matches, for coming here in Paris and I'm sorry that we haven't managed to come in first today," added the 31-year-old veteran.
The Slovenian volleyball team will be welcomed home on Monday together with cyclists Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar at an event in Ljubljana's Congress Square.
Serbia was better than us / We let them win
Source: Reddit, r/slovenia. Learn Slovene with memes here
STA, 28 September 2019 - Slovenia's Eva Terčelj won gold in women's kayak race at the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in La Seu d'Urgell, Spain on Saturday. This is the third medal for Slovenia at the championship.
Silver went to Australia's Jessica Fox and bronze to Luuka Jones from New Zealand.
The 27-year-old Terčelj from Ljubljana thus earned Slovenia the first individual medal in women's races at world championships.
"You can never forecast a medal in kayak, let alone a victory ... That's why I didn't think about a medal, I never even imagined what it would be like to become the champion ... I am really thrilled, it hasn't really sunk in yet," Terčelj said.
"This kind of victory is that much more valuable, because it I earned it with my ride and not because of my rival's mistakes ... All those years of hard work, and ups and downs finally paid off," the champion added.
The gold is Slovenia's third medal at the championship after canoeist Luka Božič won bronze earlier today and the Slovenian kayak team bagged gold on Wednesday.
Serbia defeated France 3:2 in the European Championship's semi-final match on Friday, qualifying for the finals where it will play against Slovenia this Sunday.
The situation is reminiscent of the 2017 European basketball championship, in which Slovenia, considered by many as not a strong medal contender, qualified for the finals, where it overpowered historically a much stronger team of Serbia thereby winning the title (and its first medal ever).
Two years later, Slovenia entered European Volleyball Championship seriously underestimated by many again. Although the team suffered a decisive defeat against Russia (3:0) in the qualifiers, Slovenia met Russia again during the knockouts, eliminating it in the quarterfinals, while the team beat Poland, another gold medal contender, in the semi-finals. To win the volleyball championship Slovenian team will thus, just like two years ago in Eurobasket, have to beat Serbia in the finals, which will take place in Paris, France this Sunday, and be watched in homes, cafés and bars all over Slovenia