The Slovenia Times

First Olympic Medallists Welcomed Home


It was close to midnight as judoka Žolnir walked proudly through the arrival gate of Jože Pučnik International Airport with an Olympic gold medal around her neck.

She was cheered by around 500 supporters, a brass band and accordion. "I feel great," the 30-year-old told the crowd, who responded with loud "Urška! Urška!".

Commenting on her feat in the -63kg category, Žolnir said that she had left for London with high expectations, but did not think she would win gold.

Eight years ago she went to Athens as a reserve, but then went on to win bronze.

This time around, she looked confident, cruising through to the finals with straight ippons, which she topped off with a waza-ari against China's Lili Xu to secure gold.

It was not as simple as it seemed, Žolnir said, adding that she put in a lot of energy and concentrated hard, so that everyone said that she was looking angry.

Two hours earlier a smaller crowd gathered at Ljubljana airport to welcome home the rowing duo of Iztok Čop and Luka Špik, who secured bronze in the double sculls, their third Olympic medal after gold in Sydney and silver in Athens.

A much bigger reception awaited the pair in their home town Bled.

"I'm happy to round off my career with an Olympic medal, although there's some bitter after taste. I feel stronger than the result shows," said Čop, 40, who announced his retirement in London.

Still, he said that the bronze was perhaps even more appreciated than the Sydney gold since no one expected it really.

In between the arrivals of the three medallists, Slovenia bagged another medal in London. Hammer thrower Primož Kozmus grabbed silver to increase the country's Olympic medal tally to four.

A reception for the whole Slovenia Olympic Team will be held in Ljubljana's Kongresni trg square on 14 August, following receptions by President Danilo Türk and Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković.


More from Nekategorizirano