Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Posted at: Jul 13, 2018, 1:52 AM; last updated: Jul 13, 2018, 1:52 AM (IST)

With 4.1m people, Croatia punches above its weight

No small achievement

  • Croatia is the smallest nation to reach a World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950, as well as the lowest ranked ever (20th). With a population of 4,100,000 people, it’s an incredible achievement
With 4.1m people, Croatia punches above its weight
Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic remains the most famous sportsperson from Croatia; (right) Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic has won an Olympics gold in discus throw. file photos

Chandigarh, July 12

If Croatia were an Indian city, it would not have ranked among the country’s top-5 cities in population. With 41.7 lakh people, Croatia would rank below Gujarat’s Surat, which had a population of over 44.6 lakh according to the 2011 census. It’s this tiny country Croatia — which didn’t exist before 1992 — that has produced a football team that will be fighting for the World Cup on Sunday. Croatia’s team is no stranger to footballing overachievement — the team reached the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup, finishing third behind France and Brazil.

It has produced champions in other sports as well, the most famous of them being Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion. Marin Cilic, two-time Grand Slam finalist and current world No. 5, is a Croat, as is Borna Coric, who beat Roger Federer in the Halle tournament final last month. On Federer’s current coaching team is Ivan Ljubcic, a former world No. 3 from Croatia. 

The average height of a Croat male is nearly 6ft — it’s no surprise that Croats have made a mark in basketball. Several Croatians have figured in the NBA, including former Chicago Bulls player Toni Kukoc, George Mikan, Drazen Petrovic and Kresimir Cosic.

Croatia has produced champions in winter sports, boxing, athletics (Olympics gold medallist discus thrower Sandra Perkovic), taekwondo, shooting, wrestling and ice hockey. We in India won’t know most of those names. But wait, there’s a well-known cricketer too — Australia’s Simon Katich, whose family name would originally be Katic. — TNS


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