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Valentina Aščić creates history for Croatia at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Valentina Aščić creates history for Croatia at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Valentina Aščić creates history for Croatia at the 2022 Winter Olympics (Photo credit: Rino Vanhooren)

With her performance in the 500m discipline on Saturday, Valentina Aščić fulfilled her sporting dream and wrote Croatian sports history as the first Croatian speed skater to perform at the Winter Olympic Games. 

Since 1992, when Croatia made its debut at the Winter Olympic Games, the country had never competed in any speed skating discipline. That changed on Saturday when Valentina raced in her heat in the 500m event.

She spoke soon after about her feelings in writing history for her country. 

“I come to the heat box before the race, the feeling was wonderful. The girls sitting and getting ready are the world’s elite, some are there for the third time at the Olympics. I’m making a film in my head of how I got there in the first place, I’m thinking about the qualifications themselves. I understand that my chance is at the start, to make the best possible start, to take at least the third position after the first round and try to make it through in time. I go out on the ice with some surreal feeling looking around, I know it’s important to relax and ignore where I am,” Valentina said, before adding.  

“I manage to get to the start line totally focused on making a good start. I give it my best on the first flat and after the turn I was third, after which the Frenchwoman fell. I was left with a small gap which I could not catch up. I tried to speed up but the feeling on the ice was weird and like I was slowing down. True, I only had a warm-up on the ice and did not do any training on it. At the end of the race I was scared to see my time, but it turned out that it wasn’t so bad. I left the rink with a smile on my face, knowing that 23rd place is something big for me.”

Valentina Aščić creates history for Croatia at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Valentina Aščić and coach Ingmar van Riel (Photo: Supplied)

Due to a positive PCR tests, Valentina had to postpone her departure to Beijing several times, and even her performance in this discipline was called into question. There was no time for preparations and training, the first outing on the ice in Beijing was on the day of the race.

Valentina is very pleased with finishing in 3rd place in her group and currently 23rd overall. Partly due to the repeated start of the race, the time achieved was not enough to get her through to the quarter finals, but her overall standing is still an excellent success for the 23-year-odl Croatian representative. 

The next discipline in which Valentina competes is the 1500m, which is on the program to take place on 16 February.

Valentina is a member of the speed skating club KBK Meteor in Zagreb, which is currently the only speed skating club in Croatia. Out of about 30 members of all ages, seven are senior members of the national team.

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