Olympic Games | 7 Jul 2024

MALOBABIC Enjoys Her Rejuvenated ‘Second’ Career

Ivana MALOBABIC of Croatia had a break from the national team from 2001 to 2017. She returned and since then has set new heights in her career.

“I trained and played for my club regularly, but I did not play for the national team. In 2017, Croatia invited me to help them in the qualifications for the European Championship, and that's how my second career slowly began,” explained MALOBABIC, laughing. “However, it wasn't until after the pandemic that I started playing singles tournaments more seriously.”

Her seriousness is evident with her qualification for the Olympics in Paris 2024. MALOBABIC failed to reach the Games through the European Qualifications in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but she achieved this goal thanks to her very good results and a strong position in the ITTF Rankings.

“I am overjoyed to have qualified for the Olympics. Everything started at the European Games in Krakow, and I've been playing well since then. I am satisfied with the whole season. The only bad luck I had was at the qualifications in Sarajevo where I woke up on the day of departure with a temperature of 38°C. I had the most important tournament in four years and had to fight a double fight, with myself and the opponent,” explained Ivana.

However, she earned herself a second chance.

“After Sarajevo, I played at the WTT in Argentina where I reached the quarterfinals and secured my place in Paris. At the Games, I will give my best because the best of the best compete there and a lot will depend on the draw.”

From Ivana, we could get “first-hand” info about the youth players preparing for the EYC in Malmö.

“I am currently in the Czech Republic. I have already completed part of the preparations in Zagreb. I am in Havířov at their training center. The boy's and girl's national teams of the Czech Republic and Austria are preparing here for the upcoming European Junior Championship in Malmö, so I decided to be here as well because the season is slowly ending, and it is difficult to find adequate sparring partners.”