Slovenia’s Jaka Malus is expecting a tough time in the handball competition at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, but he is not complaining.
Malus started playing handball after deciding football was not for him. The left-back is part of a Slovenia team full of promise and ambition.
“I’m excited about the first game against Tunisia [on August 21]. We had a training session and saw the [Jiangning] Sports Centre, it’s huge. We can’t wait for the people to see us and we can’t wait to see them,” said the 18-year-old.
Malus did not have to wait until that first game to enjoy the spotlight at Nanjing 2014, as he carried Slovenia’s flag in the Opening Ceremony. “It’s a big honour to be the flag bearer,” he beams.
While Malus believes Norway is the strongest team in the men's handball tournament, he stressed that there is a generally high level of competition at the Games.
“It’s really strong, people don’t know that Qatar and Egypt are strong teams,” he adds. “They are tactically strong and have European coaches over there, especially in Qatar, so they’re very good teams.”
Ahead of their opening group B match, Malus joked that the only nerves within the squad were with the man in charge, coach Janez Klemencic.
“Our coach, he is really nervous, but he won’t say it,” confides Malus. “I said to him that he’s nervous and he said ‘No I’m not’, but yeah, he is. You can see it.”
The men’s and women’s handball competitions start on 20 August at the Jiangning Sports Centre.