The Slovenian team at the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games will be led by the sailor Vasilij Žbogar, who had already won two Olympic medals, and has been chosen as the flag bearer.
The Slovenian Olympic Committee has announced their decision via Twitter. Žbogar is the only member of this year’s Olympic team who had already won an Olympic medal. The 40-year-old sailor from Izola had competed at Olympic Games four times; in Athens, in 2004 he won a bronze medal, and four years later in Beijing a silver medal, both in Laser class. In Sydney in 2000, he placed 19th, while in London he competed in Finn class and placed sixth.
“I consider it a great honour, and also a reward for my achievements. I have always felt respect for the Slovenian symbols, and I celebrated the bronze medal in Athens and silver in Beijing with a flag in my hands. Thank you all for your trust; I hope to do well also in Rio, and not disappoint you,” Žbogar said. He had recently returned from his preparations at the Olympic venues. “In Rio, everything is ready for sailing competitions, the marina is ready, but the sea is extremely polluted. Rio is a very big and demanding city; great caution is necessary, as there are a lot of villains and dangerous locations must be avoided. The nature is very beautiful, except the sea, as already mentioned.”
In London, Kauzer acted as flag bearer
At the previous Olympic games in London the kayaker Peter Kauzer acted as the flag bearer, four years before, in Beijing, it was the judoist Urška Žolnir, in Athens the handball player Beno Lapajne, in Sydney the rower Iztok Čop, in Atlanta in 1996 the athlete Brigita Bukovec, and in Barcelona in 1992 Rajmond Debevec.
Slovenian athletes will compete in 14 sports
Žbogar will lead to the Maracana stadium the Slovenian team presently consisting of 59 athletes. There might be some changes, but only until July 18; already on July 22 the Slovenian Olympic team will be introduced at the special event in Koper, after the friendly match of the Slovenian national handball team, the third time participant at the Olympic games, against Croatia.
Rio de Janeiro will host the largest sports event between August 5 and 21. Slovenia will compete in 14 sports: athletics, sports gymnastics, sailing, judo, whitewater canoeing and sprint kayaking, road cycling and mountain biking, table tennis, swimming, long distance swimming, handball, shooting, and triathlon.