Olympic Hopeful Q&A with Martin Maric
July 7, 2008
BERKELEY - CalBears.com spoke with Cal thrower Martin Maric about his dream of representing Croatia in the Summer Olympics. Maric, a product of Split, Croatia, who will be a senior in the 2008-2009 season, will compete in the discus at his country's upcoming Olympic trials.
CalBears.com: When did you decide that you would focus solely on discus despite having the potential to compete internationally in the javelin, too?
Maric: 'I was first a javelin thrower, and then I gained some weight. I switched to discus and it turned out very good for me. This was junior year of high school.'
CalBears.com: When are the track and field Olympic trials in Croatia?
Maric: 'Croatian trials are July 16, and as long as I achieve an international B standard it will be me, because the other best discus thrower is injured. Definitely, it's a dream to compete in the Olympics and represent your country.'
CalBears.com: What are the biggest sacrifices you've had to make to try and reach the Olympics?
Maric: 'To come here to the U.S., to study and train, it would be hard for me to combine those two in Croatia, because conditions are not very good. It's either/or. Here it can be academics and sports. But it was a big step for me to come here from so far away, to leave my family and friends overseas. But you've got make some sacrifices to pursue your dream. I stay in touch with my coach and my family back home. Every weekend we talk, so it's much easier than I thought it was going to be at first.'
CalBears.com: What were first two years like at University of Georgia before you transferred to Cal?
Maric: 'A good friend of mine from Croatia, a hammer thrower, he used to go to Georgia. I didn't want to go the U.S. not knowing anybody, so that's why my first choice was Georgia. He's back in Croatia now, training for the Olympics.'
CalBears.com: Why did you transfer to Cal?
Maric: 'One of the reasons I came to Cal was because a lot of discus throwers come and train here. I definitely needed that to see that I'm not as good as those guys so I can push harder. Definitely competing with world-class athletes helps a lot. It gives me more experience to get better.'
CalBears.com: What are you looking forward to the most in Beijing?
Maric: 'Hopefully the Olympics will be a big step for China to open up a little bit. The Olympic Games in Beijing are going to be an historic event and I definitely want to be a part of it. Definitely for the citizens of China, one sixth of the world's population, it's going to be an historical event, a huge event.'
CalBears.com: What is your favorite Olympic memory?
Maric: 'For me it was definitely (former Cal swimmer) Duje Draganja winning a silver medal in 50-meter freestyle in 2004. The whole country was cheering for him. We didn't think he was going to do that good. We knew he was going to make the finals, but when he won that silver, and it was just one hundredth of a second that he lost for gold, the whole country was very excited about it. My favorite moment was that he went to the podium with his Cal hat on, which made some controversy in Croatia. I didn't know at first, but coming here and seeing how great an institution Cal is, I definitely understand why he did that. I'll definitely try to follow his footsteps if I get a chance.'
CalBears.com: When did you first dream of competing at the Olympics?
Maric: 'My first year of track, when I was 13 years old, I watched some Croatian athletes at the Olympics. Seeing the full stadium and them competing in front of so many people, I wanted to go the same way and represent Croatia.'
CalBears.com: How has Cal helped you attain this dream?
Maric: 'It has helped a lot. For a moment I was doubting my abilities to perform well. In Georgia I had two rough years, maybe because of the big move that I made, but I was struggling over there throwing discus. I came here, my first semester, my first month I felt like home, because the environment Berkeley has, such diversity it has, it reminds me of back home. I felt more comfortable and the coach helped me a lot. My first year here I PRed by 12 feet, which was what I did in the last three years. It was amazing. I couldn't believe it, and it made me appreciate this University even more because the staff here are amazing. I almost couldn't believe that I could do that.'
CalBears.com: How have you responded to the academic challenges at Cal?
Maric: 'I was excited to come here because Berkeley is well known around the world. I'm definitely using all the resources that I can. The academic center, we have tutors and teachers that help a lot here. Teachers are excited to teach. I'm loving it, trying to double-major in political economy of industrial societies and Slavic languages, and it's going very well so far. I'll hopefully stay for my master's degree.'
CalBears.com: Who is your biggest mentor?
Maric: 'My coach from back home. I used to play basketball. But my home coach, Ivan Vesti, he got me into track. He trained a lot of Olympic athletes, and his enthusiasm and his knowledge about track pushed me into working hard, and I wanted to follow his footsteps.'
CalBears.com: How did you first become interested in your sport?
Maric: 'I always loved track and field, throwers, especially running. When I was a kid watching sprints, to see the competition on TV was amazing for me. Track and field is more popular in Europe than it is here. Track, I never thought I could be competitive in it. I played basketball. But when I realized that I could actually do some good things in track and field, I was very excited about it.'