Champion Lana Pudar for “Local Works”

Many young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina have their sports role models. Lana Pudar, Džanan Musa, Jusuf Nurkić, Edin Džeko, Evedina Muzaferija… Every success of our sportsmen creates in young people the desire and will to train and progress in sports. Society, as well as institutions, do not know that the highest professional level cannot be reached with talent and hard work alone. The support of the local community, from the street in a city, all the way to the city administration, entities, and of course the state is a very important segment of success. Many athletes, as well as their parents, gave up a lot in order to provide a better quality lunch for their child or to buy some of the sports equipment they need. All levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina should have the opportunity to discover our talents and start from the beginning with support for future champions and the best promoters of our country in the world.

One example of an incredible talent who initially fought all these disadvantages is the brilliant Bosnian swimmer Lana Pudar.

Lana and her coach Damir Đedović answered a few questions that partly relate to the challenges mentioned above.

Lana, you are currently the most successful sportswoman from Bosnia and Herzegovina. You have achieved, for a young swimmer, a phenomenal success. How would you formulate and describe it – talent, persistence, parental support, quality coaches, help from the local community? Maybe you would change this order?

“The formula for success, not only in sports or swimming, but in everything we do is very simple – self-belief, hard work, persistence and patience. All this, normally, should be accompanied by other things, such as the ones you mentioned in the question. Because it is certain that without the support of the family, the social community, without quality coaches and some other factors, it is difficult to reach the top level”. 

You put in a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifices. Who and how found out that you have great potential?

“Very soon after my arrival at the first training session at the swimming school, the coaches transferred me to the swimming club, so I believe they immediately saw that I was talented in swimming. Surely no one could have guessed how everything would develop further, but without my coaches and their proper work with me and making the right decisions at the right time, I certainly would not have achieved all these results”.

At the beginning of your career, as far as I know, you did not have much support. You trained in Mostar, Trebinje, Sarajevo and Banja Luka. How much did the local community understand your needs at the beginning?

“At the very beginning of my professional career, it was very difficult. My home club ꞌOrkaꞌ and my family know this best. Later, when I made the first serious results, a little more serious investments also started, which greatly facilitate all these huge trips for preparations, which I am forced to do because of the lack of an Olympic swimming pool in my city”.  

Recently, the Canton of Sarajevo and the City of Sarajevo have increased their support, sponsors are also present. How much does it all mean to you? What kind of support was it? Do you think that for future sports talents the state, entity, canton/county, local community should have some kind of “detector” that would give some kind of support to the talent from the very beginning?

“As I said a moment ago, when you score a result, they start to support you and then more significant support starts. When it comes to me, I really currently have very fair support from several levels of government in our country, because people in responsible positions recognized the importance and magnitude of these results. And for that I am grateful to them from the bottom of my heart. As you climb the ladder of success, the costs also increase proportionally. Because trips to swimming camps around the world, preparations and trips to major competitions and everything else that should accompany it, cost an awful lot. I managed to be visible with my results and for this visibility to bring me significant support, but again, it shouldn’t be like that. A systemic approach to financing sports is needed, so that young talents are recognized and supported in the right way already at the beginning of their career. And that is what is missing the most in our country as far as sports are concerned.” 

This summer the Olympic Games are held in Paris. The question for Lana’s coach, Damir Đedović, arises by itself – how are the preparations and one day of training with Lana going?

“The plan and program of the preparations have been made a long time ago and the preparations are running their course. The most important thing is that Lana is healthy and that all these preparations pass without any injuries. As for the daily training schedule, everything again depends on the period and phase of preparation we are in. In principle, most days of the week we have two training sessions in the water and one training session on dry land. Training on dry land sometimes involves fitness, and sometimes a cardio program, which again depends on the period of preparation and what we are preparing for during that period. Basically, a lot of hard and hard work, because that’s the only way to get to the top and, what’s even more difficult, to stay at the top,” says coach Đedović.

Lana managed to cope with difficult and uncertain beginnings, and with her talent and successes, she secured and justifies the support she currently receives from sponsors, as well as from various levels of government. Support for athletes and talents must not stop. Lana, like other successful athletes, deserves all the necessary help to achieve their goals. Many individual sports are not very attractive for sponsors, so they come to the fore only when the athlete becomes famous and very successful, but it should be remembered that these young people are our ambassadors, as well as their coaches. They are worth and should be invested in.

Darko Udovicic

This story was written thanks to the generous support of the American people through the “Local Works” program of the American Agency for International Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina (USAID). The author and “Network for Peace Building” are solely responsible for the content of the story. The views expressed in the story do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.