Fireworks explode above the stadium during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on August 8, 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE / TIBOR ILLYES
Several Balkan countries have improved their Olympic scores or achieved even more notable successes at the Tokyo Games, with the athletes responsible for the medals taking center stage in national celebrations.
The 13 countries in the region – Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Slovenia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Albania – won a total of 53 gold medals, silver or bronze.
Turkey achieved their best Olympic score in Tokyo and won the most medals of any Balkan country with 13 – two gold, two silver and nine bronze.
Archer Mete Gazoz and boxer Busenaz Surmeli won two gold medals. Turkish female athletes have won five medals in total and have played an important role in Turkey’s most successful games, winning the country’s first medals in women’s boxing and wrestling.
Turkey’s assertive men’s wrestling team were rather disappointing, contrary to expectations, winning just two bronze medals. The women’s volleyball team was also a flop. He struggled for a lot more but ultimately didn’t make it through the quarter-finals.
Serbia also enjoyed considerable success in Tokyo, winning nine medals in total, a slight improvement from the eight won in Rio in 2016. Three medals were gold, one silver and five bronze.
In team sports, the men’s water polo team from Serbia won a gold medal and therefore retained the position it acquired at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
In individual sports, gold medals were won in taekwondo by Milica Mandic and in karate by Jovana Prekovic. Mandic’s neighbors in Belgrade gathered on Sunday to welcome him to her home, surprising her with a mural painted on the wall in her neighborhood.
The Serbian water polo team celebrates Olympic gold in Tokyo. Photo: Olympic Committee of Serbia
Damir Mikec won silver in shooting, while taekwondo athlete Tijana Bogdanovic, marksman Milenko Sebic and wrestler Zurab Datunashvili took bronze. In team sports, bronze medals were won by the men’s 3 × 3 basketball team and the women’s volleyball team.
Croatia came third in the region, winning eight medals in total: three gold, three silver and two bronze. This score is down slightly from the ten medals won at the Rio Olympics.
Taekwondo athlete Matea Jelic, brothers Martin and Valent Sinkovic in coxless pairs, and Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in tennis doubles, all won gold medals.
After the welcome party held at Split Airport, Jelic also received a serenade in his hometown of Knin at the city football stadium.
Bulgaria exceeded their expectations at Toyko after winning six medals – three gold, one silver and two bronze. It was the first time he had won a gold medal since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Interestingly, all of the Bulgarian medalists were women, which added a special feminist touch to Bulgaria’s performance.
Ivet Goranova won a gold medal in karate, Stoyka Krasteva won a gold medal in boxing and the rhythmic gymnastics women’s team broke Russia’s traditional dominance in this area by taking a gold medal to the House. Antoaneta Kostadinova won a silver medal in shooting, while Taybe Yusein and Evelina Nikolova received bronze medals in wrestling.
Disstria Krasniqi and Nora Gjakova arrive in Kosovo after winning gold medals in judo at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Kosovo Olympic Committee
Slovenia came next in the regional rankings after winning five medals – three gold, one silver and one bronze.
Star cyclists Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar did not disappoint. Roglic won a gold medal in the men’s time trial, while Pogacar won a bronze medal in the men’s road race.
The Slovenes were excited when their national basketball team first qualified for the Olympics, but they narrowly lost to the French in the semi-finals and were beaten by the Australians in the game for the third place, ranking fourth. They still received a heroic welcome on Sunday at Ljubljana airport.
Greece won four medals at the Tokyo Olympics. The gold medals were won by rower Stefanos Ntouskos and Miltiadis Tentoglou in the long jump. The men’s water polo team won a silver medal and Eleftherios Petrounias a bronze medal in gymnastics.
After Greek weightlifter Theodoros Iakovidis failed to advance to the final, he broke down in tears and announced his retirement for financial reasons, a problem many Greek athletes face.
Romania’s four medals – one gold and three silver – were primarily in rowing. Nicoleta Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Geanina Radis won gold in women’s pairs, while Ana-Maria Popescu won silver in women’s fencing.
Rowers Marius Vasile Cozmiuc and Ciprian Tudosa won a silver medal in the men’s pairs competition, and rowers Mihaita Vasile Tiganescu, Mugurel Vasile Semciuc, Stefan Constantin Berariu and Cosmin Pascari won a silver medal in the men’s competition in four.
Romania’s score could have been higher had gymnast Larisa Iordache not been forced to retire due to health concerns.
Kosovo, who are celebrating their second Olympics after competing for the first time in Rio, also beat their performance. The 11 athletes representing Kosovo returned with two gold medals after Nora Gjakova and Disstria Krasniqi won gold medals in judo. In Rio, Kosovo won a gold medal.
For North Macedonia, which traditionally sends no more than ten athletes to the games, Tokyo has been a relative success after taekwondo fighter Dejan Georgievski did not disappoint expectations and took home a silver medal.
Dejan Georgievski from North Macedonia won a gold medal in taekwondo. Photo: mok.org.mk
This is the country’s biggest success since it started competing in the Olympics some 30 years ago, but also a break from the 20-year “medal drought”. The country had previously won just one bronze medal, won by wrestler Mogamed Ibragimov at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
Moldova won a single bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics after rower Serghet Tarnovschi placed third in the 1,000-meter canoe race.
Tarnovschi is a Ukrainian athlete who competes for Moldova. Twenty athletes represented Moldova at the Tokyo Games in eight sports.
Some countries in the region have won nothing, unfortunately. For little Montenegro, there were no medals this time. Expectations were high for the women’s handball team and the water polo team, but they won nothing.
Albania did not win any medals either. This year he was represented by nine athletes.
Bosnia and Herzegovina either, which sent seven athletes to Tokyo. But 19-year-old taekwondo player Nedzad Husic, who placed fifth, surpassing Bosnia’s previous highest score at the Olympics, is one of the most notable.