Ljubljana – Slovenian Olympians were welcomed by fans in Ljubljana’s Congress Square on Tuesday evening, earning cheers and applauses after what were the most successful Summer Olympic Games for the nation, as the athletes returned home with three gold medals.
After being welcomed in Ljubljana airport following their return from Tokyo and in their native towns, the athletes took the stage in the capital to be once more greeted by numerous fans who were getting up early to watch them compete in Japan.
Drawing the most cheers and applause were sport climber Janja Garnbret and canoeist Benjamin Savšek, who won gold medals, and silver medallist in the women’s 63kg category in judo, Tina Trstenjak.
With cyclist Primož Roglič grabbing the gold in the men’s time trial, Slovenia won three gold medals, the largest number of gold medals at the Summer Olympics in history of independent Slovenia.
Cyclist Tadej Pogačar won the bronze medal in the men’s road race, while standing out in addition to the medal winners was the men’s basketball team, which finished 4th in its Olympic debut.
The men’s basketball team did not attend the reception due to other obligations, and nether did Roglič and Pogačar, who addressed the crowd and thanked fans for the support in a video recording.
Garnbret was meanwhile met on the stage by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, as the latter had promised to the climber two years ago that a sport climbing centre would be built in Ljubljana if she won a gold medal in Tokyo.
“I did my part,” the golden Olympian said, while the mayor said that a sport climbing centre would be built in the capital by 2023.
Savšek thanked Slovenians for cheering “that was heard all the way to Tokyo” and also remembered his gold-winning ride. When I crossed the finish line, I expected a medal, and it eventually turned out that it was a golden ride.”
The fans who gathered in Congress Square told the STA that they closely watched the competitions in Tokyo and that they were not bothered by the large time difference and the early hours of appearances of Slovenian athletes.
They were also addressed by the head of the Slovenian Olympic delegation Miro Cerar and the president of the Slovenian Olympic Committee Bogdan Gabrovec.
Ahead of the welcome party in Ljubljana, the Slovenian Olympic team was received by President Borut Pahor and Minister of Sport Simona Kustec in Brdo pri Kranju. Pahor also addressed the fans in Ljubljana in a recorded video clip.