HISTORY OF THE MEETING


Boris HanžekovićIn 2004, the Zagreb international athletic meeting will be held for the 54th time. This more than half a century long athletic story originated as a duel between two strongest clubs in Zagreb - Mladost and Dinamo. It became international when good foreign athletes started participating in it in 1958. The 110m hurdles memorial race, which has been part of the meeting from the very beginning, is named after Boris Hanžeković, a Zagreb athlete, who ran the hurdles between the two world wars, and who became famous after winning over the famous Greek athlete Hristos Mantikas at the Balkan Games in 1938. Respectable athletes participated in the meeting as early as in the 60s and 70s, but world athletic stars started pouring into Zagreb in 1997 and their number has been increasing every year. In 1998, "Hanžek" as we call this competition, ranked first on the EAA (European Athletic Association) list, so it climbed the ladder and got included into IAAF (World Athletic Federation) meetings. That year, the meeting moved from the Maksimir stadium to the Sava Sports Park, which turned out to be a great move. Night atmosphere, great results and organization lifted the meeting to rank second on the IAAF list. The reward by the IAAF was certain - the meeting was granted the Grand Prix II status on its 50th anniversary, in 2000. Three years later, according to the new classification, the Meeting climbed the ladder again to become the Zagreb Grand Prix. It is the only sporting event in Croatia that has been broadcast live by Eurosport for years now. In more than half a century, numerous Olympic and world champions and world record holders have visited Zagreb: Alberto Juantorena, Reinaldo Nehemiah, Jordanka Donkova, Ana Quirot, Nellie Cooman, Patrick Sjőberg, Jan Železny, Marc McCoy, Sally Gunnell, Brigita Bukovec, Noureddine Morceli, Dennis Mitchell, Leroy Burrell, Marion Jones, C.J.Hunter, Ivan Pedroso, James Beckford, Marc Crear, Javier Sotomayor, Colin Jackson, Gail Devers, Merlene Ottey, Kajsa Bergqvist, Hestrie Cloete. After featuring only one top Croatian athlete - Branko Zovko - for years, in the past few years, the Meeting has also been built around the success of other Croatian athletes - Blanka Vlašić, Ivana Brkljačić, Siniša Ergotić and Jurica Grabušić. Memorijalni turnir kroz povijestAt the last year's meeting, Ivana Brkljačić qualified for the Olympics for the second time in her career, and Jurica Grabušić for the first time. We all still remember the boiling night atmosphere and that cry of happiness that spread across the Mladost Stadium after Blanka Vlašić cleared 2m. This great ambience, as well as the excellent organization and record-filled results can guarantee that the Zagreb Grand Prix will again be an event one shouldn't miss in this Olympic year, as well.