Alex Gavrilovic: a true fighter for the global progress of handball (Part 3)

Previous installments focused more on the Sydney Olympics and on the progress of handball in Australia and Oceania. The links are:

Part 1:

Part 2:

[i]CA: I am sure that the Londoners are happy to be able to draw on your experience, but what made you decide to get involved in the Olympics a second time? Isn’t there a risk that nothing can ever beat the experience of doing it the first time and furthermore in your own country?[/i]

AG: As elated as I was with my own performance and achievements in Sydney 2000, I felt that handball in the English-speaking world has not generally benefited from Olympics in such countries. As you commented earlier, handball in the USA, and I can certainly confirm similarly in Australia, has not blossomed as a consequence of either Atlanta 1996 or Sydney 2000. These were valuable opportunities which appear to have largely been under-utilised by the sport. There are clear similarities between Sydney 2000 and London 2012, for example in terms of the challenges to prepare handball for an Olympic Games in a nation where handball is not a dominant sport, the challenges to attract spectator and media interest in the sport and in the importance of ensuring that a lasting legacy is achieved as a result of hosting the Olympics.

Accordingly, I felt that my experience in Sydney and my knowledge of the lessons learned and opportunities to come, would be of assistance to LOCOG and British Handball in particular and to handball in English-speaking nations in general. Hence my interest in being involved in London. At a personal level, the opportunity to exceed my achievements in Sydney in another country at another Olympic Games was a challenge I could not resist.

You may be right, I might find that nothing can beat the Sydney 2000 experience at a personal level, but I have so far found that my involvement with London 2012 has regenerated my enthusiasm for the sport and made me even more determined to do whatever I can to promote handball and to make it a truly “world sport”.

[i]CA: At this time, with less than 3 years to go, how do you see the comparison of where the preparations are at, as between Sydney and London, both in handball and overall?[/i]

AG: My impression is that LOCOG is generally substantially in advance of where Sydney was at the same stage in its preparation for the Olympics. What a wonderful coincidence that London, like Sydney, has an area, virtually in the heart of the city, to develop an Olympic site! That handball will be in a “permanent” structure destined to remain a legacy sporting venue is a great boost for the sport. Whilst I am not yet full-time with LOCOG (and due to start there in January 2010) I have had a good deal of contact with them and I am enjoying the opportunity to input into many aspects of the organisation, including the design and construction of the venue’s functional areas, since 2008. Additionally and importantly, I have already had an opportunity to establish a working relationship with the British Handball Association, via Paul Goodwin in particular. I am very comfortable with where planning and construction are for handball at the moment. I think that London 2012 is already doing a great job and achieving major milestones as an organisation.

[i]CA: Especially from a handball standpoint, what do you see as the main remaining challenges for being able to put on a good show in 2012?[/i]

AG: There are of course many challenges in putting on a complex event like an Olympic handball event; however, in no particular order, the challenges include: ensuring that the venue meets the sport’s needs; identifying, recruiting, training and managing a workforce of around 200+ staff and volunteers for the handball competition; managing the expectations and needs of the IHF leading up to, during and after the Olympics; ensuring that there is a strong legacy for handball in the English-speaking world after London 2012; bringing the sport of handball to the media and people of Britain: making them more knowledgeable and aware of the sport and ensuring that attendance at the Olympics exceeds expectations; creating an environment for a technically perfect international handball competition; pushing the boundaries of the presentation of the sport during the Olympics to ensure the best possible spectator experience and impact.

[i]CA: As many of the challenges listed by Alex are really formidable, it really should be reassuring to all of us to have someone like Alex lined up for the absolutely critical job as Competition Manager. There is no risk that he will underestimate the task, he clearly has the best possible experience, and I think you can hear how his enthusiasm is coming through loud and clear. At this point, I will simply thank Alex for making himself available in such a generous manner and we all wish him the very best of luck with the preparations and for a successful event in 2012.[/i]

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  1. Pingback: Handball Competition Manager, Alex Gavrilovic, on 2012 Olympics Preparation | Team Handball News

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