The pressures of a home championships can sometimes be stifling but Ivana Spanovic is supremely confident ahead of her title defence at the European Athletics Indoor Championships which begin on Friday morning.
“As far as I’m concerned, I do not feel any pressure at all,” said Spanovic at the pre-event press conference on Thursday afternoon. “First of all, it’s an honour to be part of this great event. It’s going to be something nobody in Serbia has ever witnessed before and it’s going to be the same for myself.”
Spanovic, whose face adorns the promotional material around the Serbian capital, has good reason to be confident. After all, she holds the three longest jumps in the world this year and improved her world-lead to 6.96m at the Balkan Indoor Championships last weekend.
“The only time that I would feel pressure would be in those times when I wasn’t one hundred percent ready and some people had much bigger expectations of me. I have to say I’m happy and I’m ready and I will do the best that I can do jump over seven metres,” she said.
Another medal favourite among the team of twelve is multi-eventer Mihail Dudas, who has been preparing for this event in South Africa where he has been training with European decathlon champion Thomas van der Plaetsen.
“I have to say I feel more or less the same,” said Dudas on the pressure - or lack of it. “With the heptathlon and decathlon, our competition lasts for two days so if you feel the pressure, it blocks you or breaks you and you sometimes underperform. You have to focus on each and every discipline the same way you focus on the one before.
“What makes me happy is the fact this is the first time I’ll have my friends and family for support and they will be right here in my backyard. That makes me feel relaxed.”
By contrast, Asmir Kolasinac, 32, admits he feels some pressure but the veteran of the Serbian athletics team is relying on home support to carry him to his third successive European indoor shot put medal.
“I’ve had good preparation for this competition, both physically and mentally. I feel a little bit of pressure because everyone expects me to win a gold medal but I think it’s very hard to win a medal because the other guys are throwing so well. I think the crowd will help me.
“I feel some pressure but the problem is the pressure is self-induced. I have bigger expectations of myself than anyone else does.”