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Croatia is doubtless on the map, loved both by visitors who come to witness its centuries-old culture and those who want to enjoy its bumping nightlife. But Croatia has also been recognized for its achievements in sports, which have also added to the country’s promotion at the global level. Here are a few well-known Croatian athletes who have, without a doubt, done a lot of good things in their careers, and their home towns.

Goran Ivanisevic

A tennis player from Split known to be the only wildcard who won the Wimbledon tournament. After being a runner-up three times (in 1992 against Andre Agassi, 1994 and 1998 against Pete Sampras), Goran managed to beat Patrick Rafter in 2001 on the grassy field of Wimbledon, putting all of Croatia in a state of wild celebration for the following days. The British were also very keen of him, as he received the BBC Sports Overseas Personality of the Year Award while Channel 4 ranked his victory sixteenth at the list of 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

Wimbledon was a the first success for Ivanisevic, as he previously won bronze medals at Barcelona’s Olympic Games and  won the Grand Slam Cup in 1995. Later, he was part of Croatia’s Davis Cup team and trained Roger Federer during his preparations for a match against Rafael Nadal (also on Wimbledon).

As already mentioned, Goran is a resident of Split, a city which staged a huge party on its large Riva once Ivanisevic returned with a trophy from Wimbledon. Today, the same promenade hosts numerous concerts and cultural events during the summer, and sometimes it even turns into a large, open-air discotheque.

Mirko Filipovic “Cro Cop”

Entering a ring with a heavyweight kickboxer who also happens to be a member of an elite tactical anti-terrorist unit is not a pleasant moment for any athete, but this is exactly what opponents of Mirko Filipovic had to face. Named “Cro Cop” because of his law enforcement career, Mirko was also a member of Croatian parliament up to 2007.

Cro Cop won several notable awards in his career, including Pride World Grand Prix in 2006 and K-1 World Championships  in 2013. He also fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship league, where he won an award for his impressive submission skill. He became known for his devastating quick kicks at opponent heads, and it was said that right leg kicks take them to the hospital, while left kicks sends them directly to the cemetery.

Filipovic also tried out his acting skills in 2005, with a leading role in the action film “Ultimate Force” in which he played a secret agent. This was not the first time a Croatian heavyweight boxer took stood in front of the camera, as Branko Cikatic, known as “Croatian Tiger” played a villain in the 1997 movie Skyscraper, starring Anna Nicole Smith.

Before becoming the bane of Croatian criminals (and ring opponents), Cro Cop was the boy next door in the town of Vinkovci, situated in the region of Slavonia. Vinkovci was home to the world’s longest sausage in 2009, which was 530 meters in length, and the site of largest dance kolo ever recorded.

Ivica and Janica Kostelic

The Kostelic family didn’t leave many trophies behind for their competitors. Trained by their own father since earliest childhood, Ivica and Janica both became skiing legends before reaching age 25. Janica won the FIS World Cup three times and stands as the most successful female skier of the Olympic Games, winning four gold and two silver medals.

Ivica, on the other hand, managed to score gold at the World Championships in 2003 and also won three silver Olympic medals (in the combined, super combined and slalom competitions).

Ivica and Janica were born in capital of Croatia, Zagreb. Their first trainings occurred on Sljeme, a mountain on which slopes of the aforementioned city was founded, and which annually hosts the well-known Snow Queen skiing competition.

Blanka Vlasic

Similarly to Kostelic, the Vlasic family dedicated themselves to sports, a decision the entire country of Croatia can be thankful for. Josko Vlasic, the country’s decathlon recorder, managed to turn his daughter Blanka into a top-class athlete, specialized at high jumping.  Blanka won several gold medals during her career, including the one for World Championships in Berlin (2009) and the Indoor Championship in Doha (2009). Blanka is also a wielder of a silver Olympic medal.

Blanka also gained media attention when Dom Joly, a columnist for British “Independent”, stated that he fell in love with her large green eyes and that he wept like a baby every time she failed to achieve a jump.

Blanka is another resident of Split, a city which begun as a palace of Emperor Diocletian, and who is, despite a huge football  rivalry, a great love of the people of Zagreb.

Not all Croatian residents are athletes, but those who are know their skills pretty well. The athletic genes are, thus, another great reason why you should consider dating a Croat.


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