Gold eludes Serbia at Beijing Olympics


For the most part, Serbian athletes were not able to turn their potential into Olympic medals, and bloggers are asking why.

Balkanblogs for Southeast European Times – 25/08/08


Gold medalist and US swimmer Michael Phelps (centre), silver medalist Milorad Cavic of Serbia (left) and bronze medalist Andrew Lauterstein of Australia stand on the Olympic podium for the men's 100m butterfly medal ceremony. [Getty Images]

Serbian athletes did not have many opportunities to stand on the podium at the 2008 Summer Olympics, although Milorad Cavic can be proud of his razor-thin finish behind Michael Phelps. Why didn't the Serbs do better in Beijing? Bloggers at B92 look for explanations.

For Vracarac92, the root problem is a lack of national pride. As the Serbian flag rose over the Olympic village, he recounts, the Chinese hosts showed more respect than the Serbian athletes did.

"One was scratching himself, the other was rubbing his nose, another was whispering something into the ear of his co-athlete, a fourth pushed his hands into his pockets … Not one of our Olympic competitors was singing the national anthem; no one held a right hand over his heart," he writes. "This picture reveals much about us, Serbs, about our lowest point of our national consciousness. Accordingly, there are very few Serbian athletes willing to give their all for Serbia."

For an example, Vracarac92 adds, you have to look only at how one of the top football clubs, Partizan, behaved. In the middle of the Olympics, it ordered two of its players to return to Belgrade. With that kind of mentality in the air, he writes, "even the medals we did get are a bonus!"

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Drug.clan disagrees. "Does an athlete who runs for country and people instead of for himself run faster?" he asks. "I applaud our athletes for not showing fervor before the symbols of nationhood, raising their hands to the heart for country, nation and so on … Enough of this folly that claims that first comes the nation, then the church, then my family and only last I."

Serbia is going through an identity crisis of sorts, suggests Antioksidant. "At the moment there is, let's say, the citizens of Serbia [have a strange attitude towards] their own country, ranging from blind adoration to extreme disdain…But time goes by, and all will settle down," he hopes.

According to Lidiaz, the reigning mentality in the country is not one that promotes achievement. "Serbia despises success, despises those who succeed in something. Do you know where Snezana Pajkic is today? Or Vera Nikolic? … Why did Jasna Fazlic take US citizenship and Natasha Janic Hungarian? It's only naïve ones like [Milorad] Cavic who believe normal conditions exist for training and life."

"Cavic … grew up and became a top athlete in the United States," retorts vnk. "He never had the illusion that the state, directly or indirectly, should secure his livelihood. He is studying, swimming and opening options for himself. What troubles him on returning to Serbia is not whether the state will give him a roof over his head, but whether the state can provide the right conditions of training and whether the swimming pool will be heated or not."

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