Kosovo claims Olympic gold in Judo, Serbia in Waterpolo, Macedonia claims tickets to Olympic buffet
Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Rio Olympics are wrapping up, MINA's sports desk wanted to take the time to congratulate Macedonia's neighbors for winning numerous medals in various sporting fields.

Kosovo, what a story Majlinda Kelmendi has been. The US base of Kosovo showed up a the Olympics for the very first time and Majlinda won the gold medal in women's judo in emphatic fashion. 


Croatia was superb as well, winning five golds in Sailing, Rowing, Track and Field and Shooting. Serbia is a story on its own, very successful Olympic games for our neighbor to the north. It won gold in men's waterpolo and already has teams playing for gold in women's volleyball and men's basketball. 


Greece traditionally continued with their success and earned medals in wrestling, track and field and shooting.


Macedonia can't claim any medals, however the talk in the Olympic village is we're always #1 at the buffet there. Unfortunately for our athletes, synchronized eating is not an olympic event.


MINA's sports desk covered the majority of the events and what struck us the most, which sometimes was cause du jour for arguments is how few athletes Macedonia has introduced for 20+ years now, despite the fact there are 28 sports spanning a whopping 300 events!!


Some of the sports require zero invesment. Running (12 different events), Shot Put (it's you and a metall ball), throwing discus, hammer throw, javelin throw, diving, cycling.... the list goes on and on. These are sports that require very little investment, if any. Yet, Macedonia has never fielded an athlete in any of these events, while our neighbors always do, and frequently earn medals.


It would be foolish for us to cover the 'athletes' that we do send. With a rare exception, none of our athletes actually qualify to be at the Olympics as they haven't earned what is termed as "Olympic A-norm qualification". Most of our athletes hold a "B-norm" qualification which is essentially a tourist visa to the Olympic games.

Is it failure in our system? Perhaps, and perhaps we have moved on and evolved from the 'simple sports'. Growing up in Macedonia in the late 1980's, shot put was part of our physical education. We simply went outside in our school yard eachd day and did some of the events that we see in the Olympics today. There was fierce competition in shot put. Today, students don't go outside and compete in shot put, instead enter a lab and play with electronics. Physical ed has taken a back sit.


 We're also a bit unfortunate not having karate being part of the Olympic sports (somehow judo is?) since we have European and world champions in karate in both men and women.


We didn't send a kayakar to the Olympics too, despite having one of the best rivers in the world for kayaking - Treska. Apart from Atanas Nikolovski, we have not had another world class kayakar join Nikolovski's ranks.  


Is there a way for us to improve the situation? It's quite a grim picture in the short term - out of dozens of boxing, wrestling and athletic clubs in the 1990's and early 2000's, today there are almost ... two or three left!

The most viable option for now is to import wrestlers and track and field athletes for the next Olympics and grant them Macedonian citizenship as was the case with Ibragimov who won the bronze for us in Sydney. //Pero Stamatovski



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