Team Preview: Slovenia

Note: Last minute changes are always possible

Slovenia is a nation located in Southern Central Europe. The nation made its first Summer Olympics appearance as an independent nation in 1992. Before Slovenia participated under the Austrian flag during the 1912 Olympics and then under Yugoslavia from 1920 to 1988. As an independent nation Slovenia has won a total of 19 medals at the Summer Olympics across seven sports. 2012 saw Slovenia finish with four medals, including one gold, just one medal shy from its record at the 2008 Olympics. Overall Slovenia will be looking at having a similar performance with potential medals coming from sports such as canoeing and judo.

While Slovenia has only won a single medal in canoeing in its history (silver in 1996) they could potentially challenge for multiple medals in Rio. Leading the group is 2015 World Championship silver medalist Benjamin Savsek whom will compete in his second Olympics in the men’s C1 slalom. In the men’s K1 slalom Peter Kauzer will compete in his third Olympics with hopes of improving his sixth place finish in 2012. Also returning from 2012 are 2016 European Championship silver medalists Luka Bozic and Saso Taljat whom will compete in the men’s C2 slalom. Rounding out the slalom team is 2016 European Championship silver medalist Ursa Kragelj whom will compete in the women’s K1 slalom. In sprint canoe Slovenia will compete with one athlete, 2008 and 2012 Olympian Spela Ponomarenko whom will compete in the women’s K1 200m and 500m.

Slovenia will also send a strong judo team. The team will be led by 2015 World Championship gold medalist Tina Trstenjak in the women’s -63kg. Also on the team is 2015 World Championship silver medalist Anamari Velensek whom will compete in her second Olympics in the women’s -78kg. Competing in his third Olympics is 2015 European Games bronze medalist Rok Draksic in the men’s -73kg. Completing the team are Adrian Gomboc in the men’s -66kg and Mihael Zgank in the men’s -90kg.

In team sports Slovenia will be competing in the men’s handball tournament. This will be the team’s third appearance to the Olympics as an independent nation. While they haven’t reached the heights of the former Yugoslavia team recently Slovenia has produced some great results. At the 2013 World Championship they finished in fourth while at the 2015 World Championship they reached the quarter-final. While not a favourite to win a medal Slovenia could be considered a dark horse going into the tournament.

The only returning Olympic medalist comes from sailing where Vasilij Zbogar will compete in the men’s Finn in his fifth Olympics. Zbogar was the 2004 bronze and 2008 silver medalist in the men’s laser. For the 2012 Olympics he switched to the Finn class and finished in sixth. Recently he won bronze at the 2015 World Championship and will be looking to add to his collection. Joining him will be 2012 Olympian Tina Mrak whom will join up with a new partner, Veronika Macarol in the women’s 470.

The swimming team will be anchored by veteran Anja Klinar whom will be competing in her fourth Olympics. She will compete in the women’s 400m freestyle, 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley. In addition she will also compete in the 4x200m freestyle relay along with Tjasa Oder, Tjasa Pintar and Janja Segel. Oder, a 2012 Olympian and 2016 European Championship bronze medalist will also compete in the women’s 800m freestyle while Damir Dugonjic whom will compete in his third Olympics will compete in the men’s 100m breaststroke. Other returning athletes include 2012 Olympians Tjasa Vozel (women’s 100m breaststroke) and Robert Zbogar (men’s 200m butterfly). Also competing are Anze Tavcar (men’s 100m freestyle) and Martin Bau (men’s 1500m freestyle) and outside of the pool Spela Perse will compete in the women’s 10km open water.

In athletics Slovenia will be sending a relative young team. The veteran of the group is 2008 and 2012 Olympian Martina Ratej whom will compete in the women’s javelin. Other returning athletes include 2008 Olympian Sabina Viet (women’s 200m) and 2012 Olympian Tina Sutej (women’s pole vault). Everyone else will be competing in their first Olympics though Zan Rudolf (men’s 800m) competed at the 2010 Youth Olympics. The remaining members of the team include Marusa Cernjul (women’s high jump), Daneja Grandovec (women’s marathon), Luka Janezic (men’s 400m), Anton Kosmac (men’s marathon), Maja Mihalinec (women’s 200m) and Robert Renner (men’s pole vault).

Slovenia will compete in two disciplines in cycling. On the road 2008 Olympian Simon Spilak will get to compete in his second Olympics in the men’s road race. Joining him are Matej Mohoric, Jan Polanc and Primoz Roglic. Roglic will also compete in the men’s time trial. In the women’s road race Polona Batagelj will compete in her second Olympics. In mountain biking 2012 Olympian Tanja Zakelj will compete in the women’s cross-country.

Returning athletes include shooters Ziva Dvorsak (women’s 10m air rifle, 50m rifle 3 positions) and Bostjan Macek (men’s trap) whom are competing in their second Olympics, table tennis player Bojan Tokic (men’s singles) will participate in his third Olympics while triathlete Mateja Simic (women’s race) will participate in her second. Slovenia will also compete in artistic gymnastics (Teja Belak, women’s events).

Overall Slovenia will compete with 59 athletes in 11 sports. This will be Slovenia’s smallest delegation of athletes at a Summer Olympics since 1996.

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