Ivana Spanovic Vuleta (© Organisers)
With less than five months until the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22, it can already be claimed, according to the Serbian team head coach Edin Zukovic, that Ivana Spanovic Vuleta, one of the world's best long jumpers of all time, will lead the home team at the competition.
"After talks she has had with the Athletics Federation of Serbia secretary general, Mr Slobodan Brankovic, and with me as the national team head coach, Ivana decided, consulting her team, to continue competing during the whole upcoming year," said Zukovic. "It is possible for her to be active until the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. It is still to be seen, but what we can consider certain is that Ivana Spanovic Vuleta will be the leader of our team at the World Indoor Championships which we will host."
Along with Spanovic Vuleta, the necessary criteria for competing at the championships in Belgrade from 18-20 March next year has also been met by shot putters Armin Sinancevic and Asmir Kolasinac, as well as middle-distance runner Elzan Bibic in the 3000m.
“What we expect from them is to prepare well and to do their best in order to place as well as possible," Zukovic added. "Athletes who also have a chance to take part at the World Indoor Championships are Ivana Ilic and Milana Tirnanic (60m); Milica Gardasevic, Lazar Anic and Strahinja Jovancevic (long jump); Anja Lukic, Milica Emini and Luka Trgovcevic (60m hurdles); Aleksa Kijanovic (60m); Bosko Kijanovic (400m); Jovana Ilic, Jovana Gnjatovic and Teodora Boberic (triple jump); as well as the youngest ones, Angelina Topic and Zorana Rokavec (high jump). Jasmin Halili and Slavko Stevic hope to take part at the Belgrade championships, too.
“Along with the qualification standards and the positions on the global ranking lists, the Athletics Federation of Serbia has decided to also register athletes with an impressive physical form level for the competition, those whose results are close to the mark, at the same time respecting the quota specified for taking part in the championships. The quota can, but also does not have to be, accepted by the technical delegate," the national head coach explained.
Competing in front of home supporters is an honour and represents a challenge both for the best Serbian athletes and the World Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 organising committee.
“The Athletics Federation of Serbia’s goal is to represent ourselves in the best way possible both as organisers and competitors. Given the fact that the sports department is my responsibility, I can announce that we will provide the athletes with the best conditions so that they can prepare for the upcoming big competition with the regular surveillance and control of the health and training activities in order to have a record number of competitors and best possible results," Zukovic said.
"In 2017, Belgrade was the European Indoor Championships host, which was the best recommendation for World Athletics to decide in Monte Carlo, two years ago, for our capital to become the host of the World Indoor Championships in 2022.
"As people from European and World Athletics assessed, it was the best organised competition ever. The biggest impressions were the packed Belgrade Arena and 12,000 spectators who frenetically celebrated Ivana Spanovic’s gold medal, her personal best and one of the best indoor results in the long jump ever – 7.24m. We wish Ivana repeated distances from 2017 next March," Zukovic emphasised.
At the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade in 2017, Serbia had 12 representatives. Along with Spanovic, finalists who also fought for medals were Lazar Anic (long jump), Amela Terzic (1500m) and Mihail Dudas (heptathlon).
Organisers for World Athletics