History-seeking Croatian discus queen Perkovic in a league of her own



Croatia's Sandra Perkovic has completely dominated women's discus throwing over the past years and can now become the first athlete to win five European titles in one event.
Croatian discus queen Sandra Perkovic must arguably be the biggest favourite in any event at the European championships as she can seemingly only beat herself in her bid for the history books.
The 28-year-old has two world titles, two Olympic golds, and enters Saturday's final with nine throws further than her nearest continental rival, German Claudia Vita, this year.
Perkovic's 71.38m from May 4 in Doha - just three centimetres shy of her lifetime best - is more than six metres beyond Vita's best 2018 throw of 65.30m.
Qualifying Thursday in Berlin's Olympic Stadium followed this pattern as Perkovic needed just one throw to beat the required 58.50m with 64.54m - three metres further than the next best, German Shanice Kraft (61.13m).
No wonder the third German in the final, Nadine Mueller, conceded that the event is really only about the minor medals.
"Gold is clearly gone. But silver and bronze are possible, we are looking at these places," Mueller said.
If Perkovic wins she will become the first athlete to win five European titles in one discipline but she is keeping her feet firmly on the ground.
"I do not want to think about making history and winning another title," she said after qualifying.
"It is always nice to qualify with the first throw. I do not like these qualifications too much because the qualification standard is low below my standard and I do not want to look like it is like nothing."
This just shows that she is in a league on her own, and still far from tired of it all despite having won everything in her sport.
"I can do what I love to do. I enjoy every minute of training," she said Sunday where she also acknowledged that winning a fifth title would mean a lot to her after all.
"There is nothing bigger than to be the first to have five golds in one event," she said, but also warned that "it will be tough" against other "very good competitors."
Perkovic, who served a six-month ban for a doping rules violation in 2011, joins a list of accomplished Croatian athletes such as high jumper Blanka Vlasic, skiers Janica and Ivica Kostelic and tennis players Goran Ivanisevic and Marin Cilic.
She is a six-time reigning Sportswoman of the Year in her country but also realizes that there is one thing that matters even more in Croatian sport - the stunning run of the nation's football team at the World Cup in Russia even though it lost the final to France last month.
"Football is number one. I am so proud of our guys. They did an amazing job, there has never been a greater result in our country," Perkovic said.


Friday, August 10th 2018
By John Bagratuni,

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