Croatians had plenty to cheer about at the Water Polo Arena
- Men’s Water Polo: Croatia continued their dominance in the pool as they rolled over Montenegro to set up a gold medal game against Italy, after they stunned Serbia. Montenegro scored the first goal of the game, but it was all Croatia after that. They outscored Montenegro 5-0 for the rest of the half and put themselves in perfect position to relax and force Montenegro to press in the second half. Croatia’s defense was brilliant once again as they forced tough shots for Montenegro and were 9/9 on penalty kills. Josip Pavić continued to show that he’s the best goalie in the tournament as he posted a 73% save percentage. Sandro Sukno led with two goals. The “Barracudas” will attempt to secure their first Olympic gold against Italy on Sunday at 10:50 AM ET, and at 12:30 PM ET on NBC. Italy beat Serbia 9-7 in the semi-finals.
“It was a tough game. Physically, very tough. I don’t know. I never feel so tired like now, but it’s nothing because we are in the final. We played great defense again, and we were aggressive.” –Niksa Dobud
“It’s much, much easier to be in the Croatian goal when your teammates play absolutely fantastic defense, that’s the key of our success.” –Josip Pavić
Croatia was shut down by Thierry Omeyer, yet again
- Men’s Handball: Croatian handball was defeated for the first time these Olympics as they went down 28-24 to France in the semifinals. France played very well and Croatia could not find their way around Thierry Omeyer, the French goalie, who posted an absurd 46% save percentage, compared to Croatia’s 28%. Croatia were essentially playing a road game, as the stadium was filled with French fans and flags. The French got out to a 3-0 lead and led for the remainder of the game as the deficit went up and down and Croatia was able to pull within one but could not stop the offense of France. Ivano Balić was hugely influential when used, with two goals and four assists as he ran the offense. Balic sat out for long periods of the game and Croatia looked lost without him. He will be a crucial piece of the puzzle in Croatia’s attempts to secure the bronze medal. Zlatko Horvat led Croatia’s scoring with six goals. Hungary lost to Sweden 27-26 and will play Croatia on Sunday at 6:00 AM ET.
“Handball games are always loud like this. There was no pressure. You should play in my country, then you will see pressure. They throw bricks at you. We need to find some energy and bring home a bronze medal” –Ivano Balić on the atmosphere
“Every time we play France, Omeyer makes 20 saves. He always has the best day when they play us.” –Manuel Štrlek
- Sailing: Igor Marenić and Šime Fantela ended the Men’s 470 in perfect fashion, winning the race and finishing 6th overall. The duo finished 24 points out of third and had they not been disqualified in their first race, they would’ve been very close to the podium. Croatia ended the Olympics with two 4th place finishes, a 5th place finish, and a 6th place finish in sailing.
- Taekwondo: Ana Zaninović was upset in her first bout of the day and was unable to deliver the second Zaninovic medal for Croatia. She competed against Mayu Hamada, 18, of Japan. Ana, who is the reigning World Champion at a lower weight, got off to a torrid start as Hamada landed two head kick to put Ana in a six point hole. Ana landed three kicks to the body to put the score at 6-3 after one round. She got a head kick of her own to put the fight at sixes and then they traded shots and Ana went into the third round with a 9-8 lead. With the fight tied, Hamada had a high kick late in the third round that was not ruled a head shot and her coach challenged the call and was successful, giving Hamada a three point lead and making an upset very likely. Ana tried head kick after head kick but they were blocked by Hamada, who just sat back and waited. With one second to go, Ana tried a hopeful, unorthodox head kick attempt and landed to tie the fight as the bell rung. The points were taken away by the ref who ruled that Ana had held Hamada in her attempt, an illegal. Ana needed Hamada to make the finals in order for her to have a chance in the repechages.
“It wasn’t my day. I won’t blame the judges, I wasn’t at my best and the fault is mine only. –Ana Zaninović
- Athletics: Ana Šimić finished 29th out of 35 in the high jump prelims. She jumped 1.80 meters, and the qualifying height was 1.93m. Ana was in the Olympics as the replacement for Blanka Vlasic and would have needed a personal best to qualify for the final.
- Swimming: Karla Šitić finished 12th in the 10k marathon swim in a time of 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 54 seconds. The race consisted of six one mile loops and she maintained a consistent pace throughout as every lap was around 20 minutes. If she took off 11 seconds, it would have been good enough for 6th, but the top five were over a minute ahead of her.