From the first organised sport of shooting (Osijek 1784) up until today, many Croatian sportsmen, coaches and officials have contributed to the total progress of sport in Croatia. From the beginning of organised basketball, Croatian players have played an important role on the international sports scene. Croatian basketball great Krešimir Ćosić grew up with the Zadar basketball club and was the bearer of Croatian basketball successes during the 60's, 70's and 80's of last century. In recognition of his achievements, the world sporting public has included him in the Hall of Fame in Springfield, USA. During the 1980's, Croatia gave Dražen Petrović to the world, the greatest basketball player Europe has ever had. In memory of Dražen, who tragically died in a motor car accident in 1993, a permanent monument has been placed in the park of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Dražen's team mate from the Croatian 'dream team' in Barcelona in 1992, Toni Kukoč, is the most successful Croatian basketball player to have ever played in the professional NBA league.
No less important a contribution to Croatian sport was made by swimmer Đurđica Bjedov, gold and silver Olympian in Mexico in 1968, and boxers Mate Parlov, gold medal in the light heavyweight category in Munich in 1972, Damir Škaro, bronze medallist in Seoul in 1988, and Željko Mavrović, former European professional heavyweight champion.
Then there was the legendary canoeist, Matija Ljubek, an Olympian with 4 medals, who up until his tragic death gave his expert and organisational knowledge to Croatian sport by performing the function of Vice-President and Executive Director of the Croatian Olympic Committee.
Following in the steps of Dragutin Šurbek, the Croatian sportsman with the largest number of trophies, Croatian table tennis players Zoran Primorac and Tamara Boroš have continued the tradition of successes at European and International level.
The new generation of Croatian sportsmen is lead by swimmer Gordan Kožulj, world record holder in the 200 metre backstroke in 2001, and Ivica Kostelić, winner of the World Cup in skiing in the slalom discipline (2001/2 season) and winner of the small Crystal Globe.
Croatian football achieved it's greatest triumph in 1998 by winning third place at the World Cup in France. The Croatian representative side, popularly called the "Vatreni" (the fiery ones) was lead by the top goal scorer of the tournament, Davor Šuker.
Croatian sportsmen continued to reap successes in 2002/2003. Rowers came back from Seville with two bronzes – pairs without coxswain (Siniša and Nikša Skelin) and fours with coxswain (Ninoslav Saraga, Oliver Martinov, Ivan Jukić, Igor Boraska and coxswain Luka Travaš). Croatian men’s handball team won the gold medal at the world championship in Portugal and reclaimed the throne they lost after Atlanta. Certainly the most famous sports family is the Kostelić family. Janica Kostelić won two gold medals in St. Moritz (combination and slalom), and her brother Ivica one (slalom). For the second time in her career Janica received the big crystal globe for her overall victory at the world cup, and the small crystal globe as the best women’s slalom rider in the 2002/2003 season.Ministry of Foreign Affairs