Olympic Games | 7 Jul 2021

Andrej GACINA: Olympics have special positive vibe

In Beijing, Croatia reached the quarterfinal of the Team's Event. Young Andrej GACINA played alongside the legendary Zoran PRIMORAC and TAN Ruiwu. 12 years later GACINA led a new generation who booked their place at the Olympics once again. At Portugal's qualifications, the team composed of Andrej GACINA, Tomislav PUCAR and Frane KOJIC secured their position in Tokyo.

The long break caused by the pandemic took its toll on GACINA and on his first appearance at the WTT Contender and WTT Star Contender in Qatar in March this year.

"The results are far from satisfying. In addition I was struggling with a few injuries. However, I had a very good run in the Polish league and that brightened my mood for sure. We won the title and I am happy that bad period is behind me. It is the first title for Dekorglass Działdowo in history and it was special moment for all of us," explained GACINA.

After the season began there was no time for special preparations.

"I got in shape for the final of the Polish league and then the European Championships in Warsaw knocked on the door. There is no much time in between Europeans and Olympics for something special. We have to be ready for both tournaments. There will be only 10 days left for the training camp for Olympic games before Tokyo."

GACINA played in Beijing at his first Olympics.

"Like everyone, the strongest memories are from the first Olympics. You are together with so many athletes from different sports and yet they are all focused only on one thing. I was together with so many greats of sport like Rafael NADAL, Roger FEDERER, Novak DJOKOVIC, Usian BOLT, Asafa POWELL and it is fantastic feeling. On top of all it it was my most successful Olympics. We reached the quarterfinals and it made those memories even greater. My saddest memories are from Rio. One hour before the match I got injured and the pain in my back prevented me from performing at the top level."

GACINA hopes there will be spectators allowed in Japan.

"I doubt they will allow people from other countries to be at the tribunes in the venues, but I hope there will be some spectators. Everything is different when you have real people watching. Speaking about other aspects of the pandemic, I think it affected all of us similarly. We all suffered from the lack of tournaments.

But GACINA does not think there is pressure on his team.

"Our only goal is to play the best table tennis we can. If we achieve that, we will be happy. It is the same for teams performances and for my play in the singles. I just wish that we all have an injury free tournament."

PUCAR and KOJIC will play at their first Olympics.

"It is their premiere at the Olympics, but they have been present at the top scene for years and they have already been in lots of big matches. I am sure they will be up to the task in Tokyo."

GACINA told us that he would like to have a chance to watch basketball and handball at the Olympics, but also added:

"I have never watched gymnastics at the Olympics. I would really like to have a chance to go and to see their competition."

What is the first thought when you think about the Olympics?

"Positive vibe and good atmosphere in the Olympic Village."