Has any nation with 4 million people ever achieved sporting success in a year as Croatia has in 2018? The answer is an emphatic no.
On Sunday, Croatia was crowned the 2018 world champions in tennis after beating France in the Davis Cup Final 3-1 in Lille, France. This just a few months after playing France in the final of the football World Cup in Russia.
Although debated, a number of critics agree that football and tennis, with the amount of participation in the world, are the two most competitive global games.
No nation in history as small as Croatia has appeared in the final of both sports, let alone in the same year. At it was not just football and tennis this year where Croatian fans celebrated.
The honours list for Croatian teams and individuals in 2018 is a long one with a number of world and European titles won. A look at some of the major successes for Croatia in sport this year.
- Mate Pavić wins the 2018 Australian Open Men’s Doubles title on Melbourne.
- Ana Đerek becomes the gymnastics world champion. Ana wins gold in the women’s floor exercises at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.
- Kristina Tomić and Lovro Brečić become European champions in taekwondo. Tomić won gold in the up to 49 kg category, whilst Brečić claimed the gold medal in the up to 64 kg category.
- Croatia beat Nigeria, Argentina, Iceland, Denmark, Russia, and England to reach the FIFA World Cup final. Croatia was crowned runners-up after going down in the final to France.
- Luka Modrić wins the Golden Ball for best player at the World Cup
- Šime and Mihovil Fantela become world sailing champions after winning gold in the 49er class at the World Sailing Championships in Denmark.
- The Croatia U16 basketball team becomes the champions of Europe. Croatia beat Spain 71-70 to win gold at the European Basketball Championships.
- Valent and Martin Sinković become European rowing champions, winning the 2000m Men’s Pairs final in Glasgow.
- Sandra Perković creates history after winning the European discuss championship for the 5th time in a row in Berlin.
- Luka Modrić wins UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award in Monaco
- The Sinković brothers become world rowing champions. Valent and Martin won the 2000 m Men’s Pairs final at the 2018 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
- Ultrarunner Nikolina Šustić becomes the 100 km world champion after winning gold at the 2018 IAU 100 km World Championships.
- Luka Modrić wins FIFA Player of the Year award in London
- Ivan Kvesić becomes world karate champion after winning gold at the world championships in Madrid, Spain.
- Marin Ranteš becomes the new BMX Freestyle Park world champion.
- Croatia are tennis world champions after beating France 3-1 in Lille to win the Davis Cup
- Mate Pavić ends the season as part of the world’s no.1 doubles team
There were more great performances and medals during a year which will be one that goes down in the history books.
How does such a small nation excel on the international sporting stage. An earlier article here tries to help explain.