Slovenia is a land of natural wonders, from Pannonian Plain to the Adriatic coastline. It is also a land of traditions mixed with modern progress. But this land, in the heart of Europe, isn’t known only for its natural beauty, which spreads to every corner of the country, its also known for its people – in particular, Slovenian athletes who, I’m sure, are well-known all around the globe. Individuals in diverse sports disciplines achieve very good scores in championships and competitions of all kinds.
I will name just a few of them and their sports discipline in English and Slovenian, so you can learn some new sports vocabulary, and brush up on your Slovenian sports trivia.
The “queen of sports” – athletics (Slo. ‘atletika’) – is popular in Slovenia: Jolanda Batagelj (ex Čeplak) was one of the best Slovenian female athletes in the 800-metre sprint. 2002 was her most successful year, she placed exceptionally well in world and European championships (in latter winning gold). Jolanda finished her career in 2009. Some other well-known and successful Slovenian athletes are Brigita Bukovec, Primož Kozmus and Matic Osovnikar.
Alpine skiing (Slo. ‘alpsko smučanje’) is one of the most popular sports in Slovenia. Tina Maze is the most successful Slovenian female skier. She competes in female alpine skiing; skiing the downhill, slalom and giant slalom. She won several competitions, including the world championships and Olympic games – 2012/13 were her most successful years. Other Slovenian representatives of alpine skiing are: Bojan Križaj, Jure Košir, Špela Pretnar, Urška Hrovat …
Slovenians are generally enthusiastic hikers, climbers and alpinists (luckily we have many hills and mountains 🙂 ). Some representatives of alpinism (Slo. ‘alpinizem’) are Tomo Česen and Tomaž Humar. Tomaž was a very successful and passionate Slovenian alpinist and climber who conquered peaks around the world – in an attempt to reach the top of a mountain in Nepal in 2009, he tragically injured himself and unfortunately passed away. He wrote his autobiography ‘Ni nemogočih poti’, ‘No Impossible Ways’.
Cross-country skiing (Slo. ‘tek na smučeh’): Petra Majdič was, with her two medals in the world championships and one bronze medal in winter Olympic games (Vancouver 2010), a great Slovenian ski runner. She retired in 2011.
Ice hockey (Slo. ‘hokej na ledu’) is another ‘cold’ sport which has a lot of fans. The 27-year-old Anže Kopitar is a successful Slovenian hockey player who joined the North American league NHL (Los Angeles kings). Other Slovenian hockey players are: Marcel Rodman, Rok Nahtigal, Luka Žagar, and more.
Water sports deserve a mention too, as we have some very good rowers and swimmers. The “Kings” of rowing (Slo. ‘veslanje’) are Iztok Čop and Luka Špik. They won several gold medals in the world championships and have achieved other successes.
Another water sport, swimming (Slo. ‘plavanje’), also has great Slovenian representatives: Sara Isakovič was a successful Slovenian female swimmer till recently, when she decided to quit a career at the age of 26. She won one gold medal in Eindhoven in 2008 and one silver medal in the Olympic games in Beijing (2008) – both swimming 200 metres. Peter Mankoč is also a very successful Slovenian swimmer. And we certainly can’t forget our ‘river man’, Martin Strel, a marathon swimmer who has swam many of the longest rivers in the world, such as the Mississippi, Jangce Kiang and Amazon.
Urška Žolnir competes in martial arts – judo (Slo. ‘judo’). She won a gold in the Olympic games in London (2012). She has been successful in other world and European championships.
Here is another fighting sport, boxing (Slo. ‘boks’), with its successful professional Slovenian boxer Dejan Zavec, also called ‘Mr. Sympathikus’. In his professional boxing career he won more than 30 fights.
And last but not least, we have gymnastics (Slo. ‘gimnastika’) and its very successful Slovenian athlete Mitja Petkovšek. His gymnastic discipline is the parallel bars. He won a gold medal six times: twice in the world championships and four times in the European championships.