(ATR) New Serbian Olympic Committee president Bozidar Maljkovic has big shoes to fill, both figuratively and literally.
New Serbian NOC president Bozidar Maljkovic (Serbian NOC)
The 65-year-old, a former basketball coach, ran unopposed when elected president of the Serbian NOC on May 14, replacing 7-foot-1-inch basketball legend Vlade Divac.
“Before me a lot of great men and sport workers were in this position,” Maljkovic tells Around the Rings.
“I am sure that every one of them gave their contribution to Serbian sports at the time as well as I am planning to do now.”
Divac, a two-time Olympic silver medalist for Yugoslavia at the 1988 Seoul and 1996 Atlanta Games, served two four-year terms at the helm of the OKS. He decided not to run again.
Vlade Divac served two terms as Serbian NOC president (Serbian NOC)
He is currently the general manager and vice-president of operations for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Divac retired from pro hoops in 2005, following a stand-out 16-year career with the Kings, L.A. Lakers and Charlotte Hornets.
Maljkovic won four Euroleague titles with three different clubs during his coaching career. He now focuses his attention on Serbia’s NOC as the 22nd president, including those who served under the former Yugoslavian flag.
“Our NOC’s primary task and goal is to provide our best athletes and young hopes with everything they need in preparation period in order to make them ready to perform their best results at competitions,” Maljkovic tells Around the Rings.
“NOC Serbia had good results in former Olympic cycle, but I believe that we can always do better,” he said. “With my team, I am going to do my best to move the boundaries even further in every possible way for athletes – their preparations, infrastructure, equipment, medical care, etc.”
The Republic of Serbia has improved its medal tally over the three Summer Olympics it has competed in since gaining independence following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
The Balkan nation attained eight medals in Rio de Janeiro, including two golds by Greco-Roman wrestler Davor Štefanek and the men’s water polo team. Serbia won four medals in London 2012 and three in Beijing 2008.
“We always want to go forward so we are going to do our best in providing athletes with everything they need in years ahead of us in order to make them prepared for Tokyo and ready to achieve even better results then in Rio,” Maljkovic said.
Serbia has never medaled at the Winter Games.
“We are not the country with great results in winter sports in the past,” the new Serbian NOC leader says. “In PyeongChang we will probably have seven to 10 athletes and what we expect from them is achieving their best results at the Games.”
Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, Maljkovic especially praises Taekwondo competitor Tijana Bogdanovic, a Serbian female athlete who achieved a medal in Rio at age 17.
“She and a lot of other athletes who were competing in Rio could still be active in competing on highest level for Tokyo as well,” he said. “Of course new young athletes are coming.”
Written by Brian Pinelli
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