Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor conferred the Order of Merit on five Slovenian sports coaches, honouring them for their contribution to the outstanding achievements of Slovenian athletes at a ceremony at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.
Marjan Fabjan received the Order of Merit for judo, Andrej Hauptman and Franc Hvasti for cycling, Roman Krajnik for sport climbing and Polona Sladič for achievements of disabled shooters.
With Fabjan as their coach, women judokas have won six Olympic medals. “Fabjan is one of the most experienced, respected and successful judo coaches in the world. Coaches from all over the world come to his gym in Lopata to discover his secret …,” the president’s office said.
Huptman, head of the national cycling team since 2017, saw Slovenia’s riders shine at the Tokyo Olympics with Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar winning gold and bronze.
The president hailed him as “a great coach and a great man who gives unconditionally and never expects anything in return while bringing the country pride and food fortune”.
Hvasti has meanwhile left an indelible mark in the Sava club in Kranj and also coached the former Yugoslav national team and the Austrian national team.
The president’s office said that “because of him Kranj has become the centre of supreme cycling while cycling became one of the most respected sports in Slovenia”.
With Krajnik as her coach since 2019, Slovenia’s climbing star Janja Garnbret won gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year, while Krajnik also coached climbers from abroad.
The president hailed the Krajnik-Garnbret collaboration by saying that “two perfectionists got together to move the boundaries of the possible”.
With Sladič as their coach, Slovenian shooters have bagged more than 30 medals at major competitions, including nine at the Paralympics.
She was praised for dedicating her entire life to shooting, as an athlete, coach, organiser, sport official and adviser over the past 40 years.