Four Medals for Slovenia
With a total of four medals, Slovenia placed 42nd amongst the 85 countries who won medals at the London Olympics, compared to 41st in Beijing four years ago. Judoka, Urška Žolnir, won a gold medal, Primož Kozmus was second in the hammer throw, and bronze medals went to shooter Rajmond Debevec and the rowing duo of Iztok Čop and Luka Špik.
A tough job had been predicted for the Slovenian Olympic team but things went reasonably well. Interesting is that all the Slovenian medallists had won Olympic medals before and they are all in their 30’s. As always, each medal has its story, extending far beyond the sporting success.
For Urška Žolnir this was her second Olympic medal after winning bronze in Athens. A lot of the credit goes to her coach, Marjan Fabjan, who had been collecting judo tips and tricks in the Far East in order to help his protégé get back to the top. He believes that through a systematic approach, his team gained a competitive edge over the competition but refused to reveal the details. At 30 years of age, Žolnir’s future remains unclear even to herself. She intends to carry on in the higher weight division but doesn’t realistically count on the next Olympics in 2016.
At his eighth Olympic games, Rajmond Debevec, 49, won his third medal, this time a bronze in the 50 metre rifle prone, which is not his favourite event. This status belongs to the 50 metre rifle three position, but he was “emotionally exhausted and not focused enough” to win another medal in the event in which he holds the world record. Debevec admits some problems with his eyesight but otherwise sees no reason why he shouldn’t defend his London medal in Rio de Janeiro in four years time.
Hammer thrower, Primož Kozmus, 33, has also vowed to stay. This comes as a slight surprise given the controversy that surrounded him after winning a gold medal in Beijing in 2008. He retired but made a comeback. He had struggled this year, fired his coach but still won a medal, despite an average throw of 79.36 metres. “It means so much to me because of all the problems that I have had this year,” said Kozmus.
Iztok Čop’s bronze medal, which he won with his rowing partner Luka Špik, had a bitter-sweet taste as it also marked the end of Čop’s Olympic career that has spanned 20 years (his first Olympic medal was a bronze in Barcelona in 1992). The rowers focused on gold and things were going according to plan until the halfway mark. However, they were more than happy with the bronze especially after the disappointment at last year’s world championship in their native Bled when many observers wrote them off. “We worked extremely hard over the past eight to ten months, focusing solely on our performance in London,” Čop explained of the resurgence.