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22.09.2016, 11:42
Katarina the Great rules the EHF EURO 2012 Final
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HEROES OF THE FINAL: Montenegro right back Katarina Bulatovic looks back at the EHF EURO 2012 that turned out to be the icing on the cake of a phenomenal year for Montenegrin handball
 

Katarina the Great rules the EHF EURO 2012 Final

2012 was a golden and unforgettable year for Montenegrin women's handball.

In May, Buducnost won the Women's EHF Champions League for the first time in the club's history.

In August, the women's national team came second and won silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

And in December, they even topped the podium after they had beaten Norway – the team they lost to at London 2012 – 34:31 after double extra time in the EHF EURO 2012 Final.

“That year we wrote history. We were excited and we finished the year in phenomenal fashion, playing some fantastic 80 minutes in the final of EHF EURO against Norway,” remembers Katarina Bulatovic, ehf-euro.com’s 2012 choice for its “Heroes of the Final” series, with Norway’s Kari Mette Johansen, Kristine Lunde-Borgersen and Sweden’s Matilda Boson being the choices for 2006, 2008 and 2012.

“In the final we showed that we had more character, will, desire, patience and nerves than Norway. We beat the defending champions. I can't say how happy we were because we dethroned Norway who had ruled for years in all competitions.”

Bulatovic was the tournament’s top scorer with 56 goals (eight in the final) and second when it came to assists (25). And she was named to the championship’s All-star right back.

Eventually, Bulatovic and Bojana Popovic, who had retired after the London Olympics, were even awarded “Athletes of the Year” in Montenegro. “I’m very pleased with those recognitions. They still mean a lot to me. I finished that season in the best possible way,“ says Bulatovic.

Payback time

On the road to their first European title, Montenegro beat Iceland (26:16), Russia (30:27) and Romania (23:20) in the preliminary round. In the main round they won against Hungary (28:26) and Spain (27:20) and only lost to Germany (25:23).

In the semi-final, in front of a record 13,598 fans in Belgrade’s Kombank Arena, Montenegro defeated Serbia 27:26 and in the final they beat defending champions Norway in a breath-taking thriller which only ended after double extra time.

“We were so determined to win against Norway, after we had lost against them in London. We were close to winning the final at the Olympics, but we did not succeed back then. It was payback time at the EHF EURO 2012 Final.

“At the tournament we showed that we were a mentally phenomenal team, a great set of individuals, and coach (Dragan) Adžić made all that fit in a perfect way.”

Being away at home

For Katarina Bulatovic as well as for line player Ana Djokic the match against Serbia was particularly difficult as they played against the nation in which they were born.

"The worst moment for me and Ana Djokic was when we had to go to the press conference before the match, because we knew there would be provocative questions and everything else.

“But I tried in the best way to chill out, and I managed to do so. I did not let anyone provoke me, and then I played the game as best I know. I gave my best.”

"The whistles before the game, perhaps, gave me the power, because they were very noisy. As the match began, for me, it was, honestly, over. I did not pay attention to it. I looked forward to every goal, as always. Although it was difficult, that gold medal corrected everything. Once again, just like after London, I showed that the decision to play for Montenegro was the right one.”

Bulatovic still remembers the huge support she and the team received from the Montenegrin fans in Belgrade and in particular the welcoming party in Podgorica.

“The fans were really phenomenal. I've said a million times that they are the best, they definitely were our eighth player. The welcome in Podgorica was phenomenal, as it was after London. This is something that needs to be lived and what needs to be experienced.“


TEXT: Saša Jončić / ts
 
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