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Exclusive! Shot put world champion: I have Yugoslav roots, no wonder I'm strong

Joe Kovacs pointed out that he is proud of his Yugoslav and Balkan roots

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The world shot put champion, Joe Kovacs, has revealed one interesting thing for Telegraf. Namely, his grandfather was originally from Yugoslavia, to later move to Hungary, and from there to the United States.

Joe pointed out that he believes that due to his origins in this area, he has the talent and strength for his athletic discipline. Kovacs was in Belgrade for a few days this week to take part in the athletic event "Throw to 22" - within the campaign to promote the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22.

"My grandfather John Kovacs was originally Yugoslav, and then his family went to Hungary. So I have some Yugoslav blood, that's where my last name, Kovacs, is coming from this region, they're definitely strong here."

When asked whether the last name may have been Kovacevic (a common last name in Serbia) -  the US athlete said this may have been the case.

"When I came over to meet some of my family, the way they spell the last name, it's all a little different, it's all close. So you're right, it probably got chopped off there," he said.

We explained to Joe that there are also a lot of people in Serbia whose last name is Kovac(s).

"That's good, I'll find some family over here. That's why I feel at home too. Most of the family I know about are in Hungary, but as I'm researching more and more, I did one of those DNA samples to see where you're from, and - this whole region."

Video: I could have thrown farther, but I had a great time - Joe Kovacs talks about Throw to 22

After the competition, he shared his feelings regarding his stay in Belgrade.

"You know what, I'm sorry I didn't throw any farther here, but I had a great time. It was my wife’s birthday yesterday, I'm very thankful to the Serbian Athletics Federation for helping me have a good birthday party for my wife who's my coach, for taking her out, we really enjoyed the city and it really makes me excited to come back here for the Indoors in 2022."

When asked which of our dishes he liked the best, his answer was brief.

"I'll tell you, the meat dishes? I was very happy with that, very happy. Maybe I ate a little too much last night so I was too slow, but it was very very good, the food was great. And a beautiful city too."

Lastly, he spoke about his rivalry with Ryan Crouser.

"It's good, I'm very happy seeing him throw so far, it gives me motivation, especially in training next year."

"I didn't know I was going to have any competitions two weeks ago, I found out two weeks ago I could come here, so I'm a little more rusty than I normally like, but I'm really proud to come here, last meet was a little bit better, this meet I think should have been better, but that's how it goes at the beginning of my season. It's weird to say, 'beginning of season' so late in the year, but I'm really happy to come here, I think it gives me good motivation for training next year," Kovacs said.

Video: US Olympic champion talks about Serbian basketballer Jokic: He is one of my favorite NBA players


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