Southeast Europe’s Olympic teams at a glance

26/07/2012

A capsule look at Southeast Europe's contingent in London.

By Svetla Dimitrova for Southeast European Times in Sofia -- 26/07/12

photo

Croatia's players celebrate their victory against Canada during their 2012 women's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Ankara on June 29th. Croatia won the match and qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games. [Reuters]

Nearly 700 athletes from Southeast Europe will compete in the 2012 London Olympics. Led by Serbia's tennis star Novak Djokovic, Bulgarian wrestler Stanka Zlateva, Greek track star Dimitris Chondrokoukis, the region hopes to make a strong impression on the international stage.

Here's a look at the region's Olympic delegations:

  • Albania: Population 2.8 million; 11 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Romela Begaj, women's weightlifting, won the silver medal in 2012 European Weightlifting Championships; Majlinda Kelmendi, female judo, ranked seventh in the world in under-52kg division by International Judo Federation, from Kosovo but competing under Albanian flag.

    Best Olympic moment: Ymer Pampuri became the first Albanian to break an Olympic record in weightlifting in Munich in 1972. Romela Begaj finished sixth in the women's 58kg category in weightlifting at Beijing 2008. Albania has yet to win its first Olympic medal.

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH): Population 3.8 million; 6 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Amel Mekic, judo, ranked 28th in the world in the men's under-100kg division and gold medal winner at the 2011 European Judo Championships; Lucia Kimani, track and field, finished 42nd in women's marathon in Beijing in 2008 and holds four BiH national records.

    Best Olympic moment: Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984, when BiH was still part of the former Yugoslavia. It made its Olympic debut as an independent state at Barcelona in 1992 and has participated in all Summer Games since, but has yet to win its first medal.

  • Bulgaria: Population 7.3 million; 63 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Stanka Zlateva, women's wrestling, Beijing 2008 silver medalist and five-time world champion; Maria Grozdeva, shooting, holds the world record for 25m pistol and holds two gold and three bronze medals from previous Olympics; Ivet Lalova, track and field, won the women's 100m event at the 2012 European Athletics Championships; Silviya Miteva, gymnastics, won two silver medals at the World Cup in May.

    Best Olympic moment: Bulgaria was among the 14 countries that appeared in the first Olympics in Athens in 1896. It has participated in most Summer Games since, winning 212 medals. Bulgaria's most successful appearance in the Summer Games was in Moscow in 1980, when it won 41 medals.

  • Croatia: Population 4.3 million; 110 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Sandra Perkovic, discus throw, recorded the third best distance in the world in May at 68.24m and took the gold at the European Athletics Championships; Snezana Pejcic, shooting, took the bronze in the 10m air rifle event at Beijing 2008. Croatia won two Olympic gold medals in the men's handball.

    Best Olympic moment: Croatia made its Olympic debut as an independent state in 1992 at Barcelona, winning three medals.

  • Cyprus: Population 1.1 million; 4 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: George Achilleos, ranked first in the world in skeet shooting; Kyriakos Ioannou, track and field, holds the Cypriot national record for high jump at 2.35m and won bronze and silver medals in previous World Championships.

    Best Olympic moment: Cyprus made its debut in the summer games at Moscow 1980, months after its first appearance in Winter Olympics at the Lake Placid event. The country has yet to earn its first medal.

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Vassiliki Vougiouka of Greece takes part in a women's sabre fencing practice session at ExCel venue before the start of the London Games. [Reuters]

  • Greece: Population 10.9 million; 105 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Dimitris Chondrokoukis, men's high jump, won the gold at the World Indoor Championships 2012; Alexandros Nikolaidis, taekwondo, Beijing silver medalist who finished third in the 2011 World Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament; Ilias Iliadis, judo, leads the International Judo Federation's Olympic ranking list in the under 90kg category.

    Best Olympic moment: Greece is the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games in 776 BC and then hosted the modern Olympics in 1896 and in 2004. Greece has won a total of 108 Olympic medals.

  • Macedonia: Population 2 million; 4 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Marko Blazevski and Simona Marinova, swimming, ranked as the country's two top swimmers.

    Best Olympic moment: The first and only medal for Macedonia was a bronze won by wrestler Magomed Ibragimov at Sydney in 2000.

  • Moldova: Population 3.6 million; 21Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Cristina Iovu, women's weightlifting, won the gold at the 2012 European Weightlifting Championships.

    Best Olympic moment: Made its Olympic debut as an independent state at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer and won its first two medals at the 1996 Atlanta Games with Nicolae Juravschi and Viktor Reneysky in the 500m men's canoe double for silver and with wrestler Serguei Moureiko's bronze in the men's Greco-Roman super heavyweight category.

  • Montenegro: Population 620,000; 33 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Men's water polo team, finished fourth place in Beijing in 2008; Srdjan Mrvaljevic, judo, current world vice champion in the men's under 81kg category.

    Best Olympic moment: Montenegro made its first appearance as an independent state at Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Its men's water polo team made it to the bronze medal game, but lost to Serbia. Montenegro has yet to win its first Olympic medal.

  • Romania: Population 19 million; 104 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: The Romanian women's gymnastics team won the European Championship as well as won medals in Athens in 2004; Flavius Koczi, men's gymnastics, placed first in the vault at the men's European Championship, Viorica Susanu and Georgeta Andrunache, rowing, attempting their fourth successive gold medal in the coxless pairs.

    Best Olympic moment: Romania made its Olympic debut in Paris in 1900 and has since won 292 medals in the Summer Games with Romanian shooter Iosif Sirbu claiming the first win in men's 50m rifle prone in 1952. In Los Angeles in 1984, Romanian athletes returned home with 53 medals to rank second overall. Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast ever to earn a perfect 10 in Montreal in 1976, where she secured three gold medals.

  • Serbia: Population 7.1 million; 115 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Novak Djokovic, tennis, currently ranked second in the world's ATP ranking and a Beijing 2008 bronze medalist; men's water polo team, took the bronze in Beijing in 2008, won the European Championship and then the XXIV Trofeo Internacional de Waterpolo pre-Olympic tournament; Jasna Sekaric, shooting, took the gold medal in the 10m air pistol and the bronze in the 25m pistol in Seoul in 1988 and won silver medals in the 2000 and 2004 Games.

    Best Olympic moment: Serbia made its Olympic debut in 1912, but because of the various political transformations after 1920, it did not participate in the Games as an independent state until Beijing in 2008 when it won three medals -- one silver and two bronze.

  • Turkey: Population 74.7 million; 114 Athletes in London

    Best medal hope: Ramazan Sahin, wrestling, won Turkey's only gold medal at the men's freestyle 66kg category in Beijing in 2008; Polat Kemboi Arikan, track and field, won gold in the 10,000m and the bronze in the 5,000m at the European Athletics Championships.

    Best Olympic moment: In the1936 Berlin Games, Yasar Erkan became the first Turkish athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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