Olympic Games from 1896 in Athens to 2021 in Tokyo (26): The most golden paddle

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Hero from the shadows: Matija Ljubek

In ancient Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the period between the two festivals of the most prepared athletes was called the Olympics. It lasted four years. When the games took place, the wars were interrupted. Peace reigned. The modern games were renewed in Athens in 1896. They were not at the end of the Olympics only when peace was broken in modern civilization.

Olympism suffered because of the First and Second World Wars. Today, in peacetime, the war of humanity with the corona virus has taken its toll.

For the first time in history, the competitors will not be reflected in the leap year, but in the so-called idle. Tokyo was supposed to host the XXXII Olympic Games 2020, but necessity postponed the celebration of a healthy body and a healthy spirit for this summer (July 23 – August 8).

The Olympics often spawned unknown heroes out of the deep shadows. One of them is canoeist Matija Ljubek. He was born in 1953 in Belišće, Croatia, a small town with a long kayaking tradition. He hasn’t played sports since he was a boy. At the age of only 15, he started working in his hometown in a wood factory, one of the most advanced companies in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. He studied carpentry on the wood of the famous Slavonian oak forests.

The bells of Notre Dame Island

The call of Drava’s water was intoxicating. Only as a 21-year-old did he get into a boat and take an oar in his hands. Next year, in the marathon race at 10,000 m. at the World Championships in Belgrade in 1975, he won third place with persistence in singles. His possibilities were unimagined, but he remained in the grip of Yugoslavia’s main trump cards for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Modesty warned him not to flaunt his expectations.

– I hope that I will be among the first five in the 1,000 m, and in the half shorter course of the finalists – he said on the eve of his trip to Canada.

And there, on the Olympic track on the island of Notre Dame in the wider region of the city, Yugoslavia got its most famous mustache. Ljubek first won the qualifying race at 500, and the next day he reached the semifinals at 1,000 from the third place (the first three went directly). In the semifinals on the short course, on July 30, he took second place in his group, one of three, and in the finals, which took place the same afternoon, he entered the fourth best time.

The medal race has reached its peak of excitement. The medals are divided at an interval of 31 hundredths of a second. The Soviet Alexander Rogov triumphed with 1: 59.23 minutes, the silver went to the Canadian John Wood with 1: 59.58, and the bronze to Ljubek with 1: 59.60. Not only was Ljubek better in the qualifications than both of them, but the two of them had to fight for the semifinals through the repechage.

The next day, July 31, the last authentic Yugoslav Olympian shone, as he resembled the ancient Greek Olympic athletes in his physique and knightly bending. And in the semifinals at 1,000 he was second. Then he was overtaken by the Soviet competitor Vasily Yurchenko in eight seconds, the winner in that 10-kilometer race in Belgrade, and the world champion in the 1,000 m in our capital.

In the final in the afternoon, a completely different story. Ljubek started sapeto. For a long time, he was the penultimate among nine canoes, and from the middle of the track, he started to rush forward unstoppably, overtaking one by one. He crossed the finish line convincingly first, leaving Jurchenko in three seconds. As in Belgrade a year earlier, the bronze went to Hungarian Tamas Vihman.

Caravan of Beliscans in Surcin

In Montreal, Ljubek was among our Olympians who brought two individual medals from one Olympics. The famous Slovenian gymnast Leon Štukelj succeeded twice (two gold medals in Paris in 1924, gold and bronze in Amsterdam in 1928). His compatriot and sports colleague Miroslav Cerar won gold and bronze in Tokyo in 1964, and swimmer Đurđa Bjedov in Ciudad Mexico in 1968 received the most brilliant medal and silver medal. At the later Games, only the shooters stood out. Jasna Šekarić in Seoul in 1988 and Aleksandra Ivošev in Atlanta in 1996 took gold and bronze, as did Ljubek in Montreal.

No one was more eagerly awaiting his return to the country than the people of Belišće. Patience did not betray them even after it was heard that the golden mustache was not coming with the majority of the Yugoslav team, but that it would land on the plane of the Dutch company the day after. “The paddle is the most golden in our Matija”, “Belišće is proud of its Matija” were written slogans by which fellow citizens, who arrived in four buses and countless cars, welcomed their dick at the airport in Surčin.

It was just an overture to the main joy. About 7,000 Beliscans gathered in front of the administrative building of the wood factory. Ljubek waved warmly to everyone. Many huddled in the crowd to squeeze his strong golden fist. He was accompanied by coach Laszlo Hingl, who did not receive the approval of the Hungarian federation to follow his pulen in Montreal.

– Since last August, when each of my trainings was subordinated to the Olympic Games, I have covered 5,000 km, run 1,500 and lifted a thousand tons of cargo – Ljubek explained where the sensational feat came from, thanks to the work organization that always met his sports needs.

On October 11, 2000, Matija Ljubek was killed by his stepfather with a rifle. The reason for the insanity was unresolved family relations.

Younger engine Nisovic

Ljubek did not become famous in Moscow in 1980. He was the last, ninth at 500 in the final, and the penultimate, eighth at 1,000. But, at those Games, the two-legged came to life. Mirko Nišović from Zemun, eight years younger than him, entered the boat with Ljubek. At 1,000, they lost bronze by two hundredths.

It was the vestibule of their feat in Los Angeles in 1984. They took gold at 500 and silver at 1,000. The silver medal also went to Milan Janic in the 1,000-seater kayak. Ljubek and Nisovic did not defend the gold in Seoul in 1988. They failed in the long run. They were left without a final.

The wind begged, Romanians read

In Los Angeles, Ljubek and Nisovic were most afraid of the wrong wind, because they met him in training between the semifinal race and the final at 500. On the morning of August 10, the wind calmed down to the great happiness of the two canoeists. Now the Romanians, the main competitors, needed to be restrained. It was known that Ivan Pacaičin and Toma Simionov were strong from the start, and weaker in the finish. An aggressive response should have been given to their initial aggression. Ours eventually surpassed them by two seconds. The Romanians retaliated the next day at 1,000 in less than a second.

Tomorrow – Olympic Games from 1896 in Athens to 2021 in Tokyo (24): Clear for all time

Source: Vesti online by www.vesti-online.com.

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