06 Sep 2021, 12:03 PM

STA, 6 September 2021 - The Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which ended on Sunday night with a ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, were generally a success for the Slovenian Paralympic team. Shooter Franček Gorazd Tiršek won a silver and a bronze medal, while the younger members of the team gained valuable experience.

The Slovenian Paralympic team did not go to Japan with high expectations, aware that almost half of the team consisted of young and inexperienced athletes.

For them, this year's Tokyo Paralympic Games were mainly about gaining experience. The next games will take place in three years' time due to the postponement of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 and they will be able to take on leading roles in the team.

In terms of results, Slovenia's best performer in Tokyo was shooter Franček Gorazd Tiršek with a second, third and 24th place. Meanwhile, the other member of the shooting team, France Pinter, came in tenth and 42nd.

The other members of the Slovenian team were cyclist Anej Doplihar (9th and 13th), athlete Henrik Plank (7th), swimmer Tim Žnidaršič Svenšek (two times 16th), archer Dejan Fabčič, who reached the elimination round, and table-tennis player Luka Trtnik, who was eliminated in the group preliminaries.

"It is always a wonderful feeling when we return from competitions, especially coming back home from the biggest competition in the world with a medal," said Tiršek upon his arrival in Slovenia.

Qualifying for the Paralympic Games is often considered to be a very good achievement in itself, as the number of athletes is smaller than in the Olympics, the national quotas are limited and the standards for Paralympic qualification are very demanding.

"I would rate the organisation with 10 out of 10, as the Japanese have taken very good care of security. It was amazing to compete at these Games, I have got more motivation for the future and have already set my goals higher for Paris," Žnidaršič Svenšek said about his first Paralympic experience.

Slovenia's team leader Boro Štrumbelj also stressed that the incentive aspect of the Games is as important as the competitive aspect. A major event like the Paralympic Games can be an incentive for all people with disabilities who are still hesitant to engage in sports.

The Slovenian Sports Federation for the Disabled wants to use the impact of the Games to attract as many young people as possible to engage in sports and perhaps experience the competitive side of the Paralympic Games themselves.

The president of the Federation, Damijan Lazar, said that they were very pleased: "The experienced competitors achieved solid results, while the younger athletes made their debuts and foreshadowed their development and future with good performances."

The Slovenian Sports Federation for the Disabled will host a reception for all Paralympians on Wednesday in Ljubljana. They will summarise their impressions of the just concluded Summer Paralympics and also announce the Winter Games, which will take place next year in Beijing.

05 Sep 2021, 21:00 PM

STA, 5 September 2021 - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won Sunday's 33.8km time trial between Padron and Santiago de Compostela to win the Spanish race for the third time, while today's win is his fourth stage victory in the last three weeks.

 The 31-year-old rider has become only the third cyclist to win three consecutive Vuelta races, after Swiss Tony Rominger (1992-1994) and Spanin's Roberto Heras (2003-2005).

At the end of July, Roglič outclassed the competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the men's time trial by more than a minute to win gold for Slovenia.

02 Sep 2021, 11:23 AM

STA 1 September 2021 - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič has recaptured the red jersey at La Vuelta with a win in the mountainous 17th stage on Wednesday that puts him on track for the third consecutive overall victory.

The Jumbo-Visma rider was the only one to join the Colombian Egan Bernal for a runaway 67 kilometres before the finish.

With seven and a half kilometres to go in the 186-kilometre stage, he left Bernal in the dust on the last climb, winning with a gap of one minute and 35 seconds.

In the overall standings, Roglič now has a comfortable two minutes and 22 seconds on the Spaniard Enric Mas and three minutes, 11 seconds on the Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez.

The riders face another mountainous stage tomorrow.

30 Aug 2021, 11:56 AM

STA, 30 August 2021 - Shooter Franček Gorazd Tiršek won the silver medal at the Tokyo Paralympics in the men's 10m air rifle standing competition on Monday in what is the first medal for Slovenia at the games.

Tiršek was fourth in the qualifying, and was also excellent in the finals, staying in the medal range all the time and securing at least a silver medal in the last rounds.

Eventually, Philip Jonsson of Sweden prevailed with a new Paralympic Games record of 252.8 points to win the gold medal, while bronze went to Andrea Liverani of Italy.

For Tiršek, who was only 0.4 points behind the winner, this is the third medal at the Summer Paralympics, as he also won silver medals in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016 in the same discipline.

"I had known myself that I was excellently prepared. I focused on the Tokyo games, I believed in myself, and I proved this today. If I had another shot, maybe the medal would have been even shinier. But this is sport," he told the press.

Tiršek had found himself in a tough position in the qualifiers, and his excellent effort in the last series earned him a spot in the finals, which he thinks had not started very well, either.

"I knew exactly what I was doing and why I was looking for, and eventually I found the silver medal. I knew that an excellent shot must come eventually."

The medal won by Tiršek is the 50th medal for Slovenian Paralympians, counting appearances both for independent Slovenia and for the former Yugoslavia.

26 Aug 2021, 11:11 AM

STA, 25 August 2021 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič won the 11th, hilly stage of the Vuelta a Espana from Antequera and Valdepenas de Jaen on Wednesday to claim his second stage win in the race. There is however no change in the overall standings for Roglič, as he remains in third place.

The 31-year-old defender of the 2019 and 2020 titles in the race around Spain crossed the finish line three seconds ahead of his main challenger in the race, Enric Mas of Spain. Miguel Angel Lopez of Colombia was third.

Roglič's advantage gained in the 133-km stage was too small for him to change the overall standings ten stages to go, remaining in third place.

Overall, the member of the Dutch Team Jumbo-Visma is a minute and 56 seconds behind the leading Odd Christian Eiking and 58 seconds behind Guillaume Martin of France.

24 Aug 2021, 11:55 AM

STA, 24 August 2021 - Seven Slovenian athletes will compete at the Summer Paralympics, which kick off in Tokyo on Tuesday. The team is smaller than usual due to quota restrictions and strict qualifying norms, and is a mixture of novices and experienced athletes who have participated in several Summer Paralympics before.

The team features shooters Franček Gorazd Tiršek and Franc Pinter, track-and-field athlete Henrik Plank, cyclist Anej Doplihar, swimmer Tim Žnidaršič Svenšek, table tennis player Luka Trtnik and archer Dejan Fabčič.

Fabčič, who will be participating in his third Summer Paralympics in as many sports, will carry the Slovenian flag at the opening ceremony, while Pinter will be taking part in his eighth Olympic Games for athletes with disabilities.

Until 5 September, a total of 4,537 athletes from 162 countries will compete in 22 sports. Competition starts on Wednesday.

11 Aug 2021, 10:37 AM

STA, 11 August 2021 - Slovenian Olympians were welcomed by fans in Ljubljana's Congress Square on Tuesday evening, earning cheers and applauses after what were the most successful Summer Olympic Games for the nation, as the athletes returned home with three gold medals. 

After being welcomed in Ljubljana airport following their return from Tokyo and in their native towns, the athletes took the stage in the capital to be once more greeted by numerous fans who were getting up early to watch them compete in Japan.

Drawing the most cheers and applause were sport climber Janja Garnbret and canoeist Benjamin Savšek, who won gold medals, and silver medallist in the women's 63kg category in judo, Tina Trstenjak.

With cyclist Primož Roglič grabbing the gold in the men's time trial, Slovenia won three gold medals, the largest number of gold medals at the Summer Olympics in history of independent Slovenia.

Cyclist Tadej Pogačar won the bronze medal in the men's road race, while standing out in addition to the medal winners was the men's basketball team, which finished 4th in its Olympic debut.

The men's basketball team did not attend the reception due to other obligations, and nether did Roglič and Pogačar, who addressed the crowd and thanked fans for the support in a video recording.

Garnbret was meanwhile met on the stage by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, as the latter had promised to the climber two years ago that a sport climbing centre would be built in Ljubljana if she won a gold medal in Tokyo.

"I did my part," the golden Olympian said, while the mayor said that a sport climbing centre would be built in the capital by 2023.

Savšek thanked Slovenians for cheering "that was heard all the way to Tokyo" and also remembered his gold-winning ride. When I crossed the finish line, I expected a medal, and it eventually turned out that it was a golden ride."

The fans who gathered in Congress Square told the STA that they closely watched the competitions in Tokyo and that they were not bothered by the large time difference and the early hours of appearances of Slovenian athletes.

They were also addressed by the head of the Slovenian Olympic delegation Miro Cerar and the president of the Slovenian Olympic Committee Bogdan Gabrovec.

Ahead of the welcome party in Ljubljana, the Slovenian Olympic team was received by President Borut Pahor and Minister of Sport Simona Kustec in Brdo pri Kranju. Pahor also addressed the fans in Ljubljana in a recorded video clip.

10 Aug 2021, 17:07 PM

STA, 10 August 2021 - Slovenian NBA star player Luka Dončić has signed a five-year, US$207 million supermax rookie extension with the Dallas Mavericks in what is the largest guaranteed rookie extension in NBA history and the largest sports contract ever in Slovenia. Dončić told the STA on Tuesday he will continue to play for the national basketball team. 

"Thank you for all the hard work and this is just the beginning," Mark Cuban, the owner of the Mavericks, told Dončić at today's press conference in Ljubljana.

Cuban came to Slovenia to present to Dončić the formal offer and celebrate the landmark signing, bringing along with him a delegation of team officials from Dallas, including Mavs head coach Jason Kidd and the team's special adviser and former player Dirk Nowitzki.

Thanking the team and everyone who has supported him along the way, Dončić said: "This is an incredible day for me. I've never expected this. I dreamt of playing in the NBA as a kid and now I have signed this deal." He also said he had never doubted he would sign the extension with the Mavericks as he is very happy in Dallas.

Head coach Kidd said Dončić was a "special player, an extra set of eyes and ears" on the court. "He plays the game so easily, his imagination is incredible," he continued to praise Dončić's abilities and talent.

Recalling Dončić's arrival in Dallas in 2018, Cuban said: "We had an inkling he was good, but we never imagined he was this good." He also highlighted Dončić was an incredible professional and a great human being. "We want him to have the same type of Hall of Fame career as Dirk [Nowitzki] has had if not more," Cuban added.

The 22-year-old, who led the Slovenian basketball team to finish fourth at their debut Olympic basketball tournament in Tokyo, revealed the extension agreement was signed this morning at Ljubljana's Hotel Intercontinental, where the press conference was also held.

Asked about how he felt after signing such a massive deal, Dončić said he was still processing this. The extension, the biggest deal in Mavericks history and the biggest deal a Slovenian athlete has ever signed, will land him US$207 million or EUR 176 million. It also includes a player option in the final year.

He has also become the first player in NBA history to have signed the designated rookie max extension, a feat he achieved by being voted first-team All-NBA twice.

Cuban also touched on the coming NBA season today, saying: "I think we have improved our team considerably. We are all excited on going forward." Dončić meanwhile highlighted the importance of chemistry among players on and off the court, saying that was what led Slovenia to the fourth place at the Tokyo Olympics and what was needed in the 2021-22 season for the Mavs.

Dončić was drafted in 2018 as the league's third pick and was selected to the All-Rookie First Team. He also won the 2018-19 season Rookie of the Year. Dončić also made the All-Star Five of the Olympic basketball tournament and won the MVP fan vote.

He boasts an average of 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists after playing 199 games in the NBA.

10 Aug 2021, 12:02 PM

STA, 9 August 2021 - The Slovenian team for the 2020 Summer Paralympics, which will take place in Tokyo between 24 August and 5 September, presented itself to the press in Ljubljana on Monday. The team featuring seven athletes in seven sports was greeted by Japanese Ambassador Hiromichi Matsushima, who wished them all the best at the games. 

It is a tradition that the largest international multi-sport event for athletes with disabilities in the world follows the Summer Olympics at the same venues.

The Slovenian team was presented in front of a Lidl shop in Ljubljana where a countdown clock for the Tokyo Paralympic Games was installed already last year. Today, team members and guests symbolically watered a Japanese cherry tree.

As this is to symbolise the blossoming of Slovenian Paralympians, Ambassador Matsushima said at the ceremony he wished the Slovenian athletes all the best at the Games. "The Tokyo Olympics have concluded, now it's your turn.

"I've been watching the Slovenian Olympic team and it has impressed me. I'm convinced that you too will impress Slovenia," he added.

The Slovenian team is smaller than usual due to quota restraints and strict qualifying norms, and is a mixture of experienced athletes who have participated in the Summer Paralympics on multiple occasions and novices.

It features shooters Franček Gorazd Tiršek and Franc Pinter, track-and-field athlete Henrik Plank, cyclist Anej Doplihar, swimmer Tim Žnidaršič Svenšek, table tennis player Luka Trtnik and archer Dejan Fabčič.

Fabčič, who will be participating in his third Summer Paralympics in as many sports, will carry the Slovenian flag at the opening ceremony, while Pinter will be taking part in his eighth Olympic Games for athletes with disabilities.

Head of the Slovenian Paralympic Committee Damijan Lazar said he was convinced that both the veterans and novices would be able to bring out the best in them and wished him a lot of success, "as we know how difficult is to come to the Games".

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.

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