IOC President congratulates Croatia on big success in Rio de Janeiro at 25th anniversary of the NOC
Croatia’s success at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 was praised by IOC President Thomas Bach on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Croatian Olympic Committee on Saturday night in Zagreb. The IOC President was invited to the anniversary celebrations by NOC President Zlatko Matesa.
Speaking to the guests on the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art, President Bach said: “That your athletes came home from the Olympic Games Rio 2016 winning a record number of 10 medals, four more than in London, should make you very, very proud. Congratulations Croatia. You have fantastic athletes.”
Around 250 guests joined the celebration, including a number of Olympic medallists and hopeful athletes, as well as Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković, IOC Honorary Member Antun Vrdoljak, Janez Kocijančič, acting President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), and EOC Secretary General, Raffaele Pagnozzi.
Croatia is not big in geographic or population size, but Croatia is “big at heart”, the country’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović told Thomas Bach, NOC President Zlatko Matesa and their delegation during a morning meeting at her residence. Among the guests was Sara Kolak, Gold Medallist in javelin from Rio 2016. “This is the secret of success”, Mr Bach concluded, “Success in sport needs a big heart. It needs passion, it needs love for your sport, it needs perseverance, and it needs determination. All of this you have shown in Rio de Janeiro. The big Croatian heart made the big Croatian success a reality.”
Parallel to the meeting between President Grabar-Kitarović and Thomas Bach, the European Week of Sport kicked off in the garden of the Presidential residence. “Seeing how sport is practised in your garden makes our hearts beat faster. Taking sport as a tool to foster equality, education, health and mind is a great vision,” IOC President Bach emphasized in the meeting. Mrs Grabar-Kitarović stressed the important role of sport for her country: “I am proud that the national anthem of Croatia was played more times than ever before. It is a unifying factor when we cheer for our athletes. Croatia is not big in size or in the number of people, but Croatia is big at heart. When I travel and I ask people for Croatians they know, nobody mentions a name of a politician but only of athletes. Sport helps to brand Croatia.”
At lunch the IOC President enjoyed a long conversation with a number of medallists from Rio 2016 and former table tennis player and Olympic medallist Zoran Primorac, who is now the President of the Club of Croatian Olympians and NOC Vice-President.