Major geopolitical changes were taking place across the world in the early 1990s. Twenty-five years ago, the IOC supported these changes by inviting athletes from a number of newly independent or reunified nations to compete in Barcelona. One of these, Croatia, included in its delegation a flag-bearer who was overjoyed to be representing his newly created NOC: tennis player Goran Ivanisevic.
The Berlin Wall had fallen; Namibia had gained independence from South Africa, which had ended Apartheid; the USSR and Yugoslavia had broken up to form several independent states. For the first time since the Tokyo Games in 1964, Germany sent a single team to the Summer Games. Twelve of the 15 states that had made up the USSR competed together as the “Unified Team”, while Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia made their Olympic debuts. Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia were the new countries that had previously been part of Yugoslavia. South Africa was back on the Olympic stage after a 32-year suspension, and Namibia was making its first appearance!
IOPP / SASAHARA, Koji
One of the most memorable images from the Games in Barcelona – and one that moved the entire world – was that of the Ethiopian athlete Derartu Tulu, the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal, doing a victory lap after her 10,000m event, hand in hand with the runner-up, white South African athlete Elana Meyer, to the cheers of the crowd in the Olympic Stadium.
The unlikely progress of Goran IvanisevicTennis player Goran Ivanisevic – 1.93m (6ft 4in) tall and famous for smashing more than 10,000 aces over the course of his outstanding career – will always have a special place in his heart for his Olympic fortnight in Barcelona in 1992, and he tells us why! For a start, he was the flag-bearer for his delegation at the Opening Ceremony, and felt an immense amount of happiness, pride and enthusiasm to be representing his country on the world’s biggest sporting stage…
That was a really special moment. And to be with all the sports people there was… something. Something that I will never forget.Goran Ivanisevic Croatia
It was this relentless motivation that spurred on the future Wimbledon champion (in 2001) and world number 2 (in 1994), enabling him to emerge victorious in the most unlikely of circumstances, match after match, under the beating sun out on the Barcelona clay courts.