When looks up the word charismatic, one should see a picture of Blanka VlaÅ¡iÄ‡.
VlaÅ¡iÄ‡ knew how to excite a crowd, and the WC 2009 was a spectacular example. Check it out on Youtube!
One of the greatest high jump battles ever.
Happy retirement @blanka_vlasic ðŸ¥³ pic.twitter.com/D6tZQMBVAj
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) February 19, 2021
The Croatian high jumper was proud in representing her country, and she showed it. This part 2 by Stuart Weir
on Blanka VlaÅ¡iÄ‡, which he called a personal reflection.
Blanka Vlasic, photo by World Athletics
Blanka VlaÅ¡iÄ‡ a personal reflection
I watched Blanka compete at the Beijing Olympics, the 2009 World Championships and the 2010 European Championships but had my first conversation with her at the 2011 World Championships. It was to be the first of many and I see it as one of the highest privileges of my time as an athletics writer to have got to know her a bit over the coming years.
Happy retirement Blanka Vlasic ðŸ‡ðŸ‡· and congratulations on an extraordinary career! ðŸ’
ðŸ¥‰ 2004 pic.twitter.com/SYZbTArO7r
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) February 19, 2021
I remember in Paris, 2013 asking her if she would have time for a chat. She told me she was free in an hour, adding “let’s meet in the bar and other glass of wine”. It was not the only time we shared a glass of wine together.
I feel it was a particular privilege to be in Beijing 2015 and Rio 2016 to see her win medals against the odds, with the body refusing to behave. To be allowed to chat beforehand and to know the physical challenges she was facing and then to watch as the impossible unfolded and to share a moment with her in the mixed zone afterwards was another privilege. And don’t forget that both times she cleared the same height as the winner.
Her love of her sport, and high jump in particular, is summed up in my favorite quote from her, “I was born to do the high jump”.
When her brother, Nikola, came to play pro soccer in England, she contacted me. She was coming to visit, could I find somewhere for her to train in Liverpool.
She was a proud Croatian, once writing: “Although athletics is an individual sport, I always felt like part of a team because I didn’t jump just for myself. Running the victory lap with the Croatian flag has always been the greatest honor for me”.
She had a strong Christian faith. She had grown up going to church but had rejected it. Then she found herself injured and in a dark place, “very depressed and I tried to find my identity, besides that of a high jumper or sportswoman. So I was searching for that identity and I realized that I am a child of God and I always have His endless love no matter what place I finish – first or last”.
The heading on her Instagram page is “‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’ John 3:16″ We often talked of our mutual faith.
Our sport is the poorer for her retirement.
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