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Finally green light for World Championships Runner-up Miha Zgank to switch to Turkey

6 Mar 2018 14:50    Turkish Judo Federation

Last year October JudoInside wrote about a likely switch for Mihael Žgank from Slovenia to Turkey. It has been a bit quiet for good reasons, but last week both federations agreed upon a transfer compensation for acquiring the vice world champion U90. Mihael Žgank will soon fight for Turkey and possibly at the European Championships in Tel Aviv in April.

The main reason Žgank moved to Turkey is a financial reason. He loves Slovenia, but was close to giving up after last year’s Europeans and didn’t want to be in a situation where sport didn’t bring him any financial gain, like most of the athletes. The 24-year-old judo player from Migojnice pulled back from the negotiations and let it to the federations. It took a while but has now been successfully concluded. Žgank can start acquiring Turkish citizenship but he already trains in Turkey and was at training camps in Georgia and Azerbaijan.

For the 2020 Tokio Olympic Games Zgank is determined to fight for Turkey. Siol interviewed Miha Zgank.

“I am currently a member of the BBSK Istanbul Club, which also includes a basketball team, played by Slovenian player Jaka Klobučar. I will have more sparing partners than I did in Slovenia. In my category there are five or six judoka, even in the higher category they are good enough to for training. I have 7 to 10 very good partners at all times, and in Slovenia, even in Austria, I did not have that. But not only this, it is still a financial asset for preparation. Practically throughout the year we are on preparations, including in Japan, we will go several times, there are more masseurs in the team, in short, everything is on a very professional level.”

Are there any other foreigners in your club or are they exclusively Turkish judoka?

In my category there are only Turkish players, while in other categories there are also foreigners. Two Georgians, Russian a lot has happened in the last period.

In which language do you communicate?

“A little English, a little with my hands (laughter), and I also learn Turkish. I think it'll work. I like it here, people are friendly, Istanbul is beautiful. The main thing is to learn the language, then friendships will probably also be formed. I am currently staying at the hotel, because we have preparations, followed by relocations to Antalya. I am constantly on the way, so I'm still without a residence address right now.”

Your home club Z'Dežele Sankaku and the Judo Federation of Slovenia gave you a green light last week. Who is helping you with the formal steps?

“Most of my manager is Hakan Dogan, a Turkish manager living in Germany. Being master of the Turkish, everything is easier. I trained in my old club with Marjan Fabjan, I was on preparations in Croatia with their team. I was in Cuba and since this year I have been training with the Turkish team.”

You mentioned Marjan Fabjan. How do you assess its role in your sporting development? In his club you have been since the seventh year.

First I trained in Žalec with Lucija Polavder, and then I joined the club at Lopata. Fabi was always with me and plays a very important role in my career.

Have you been consulted with him on the next steps, or have you just informed him of his decision?

No, we talked about it earlier. He was on my side all the time.

After the European championship, I had a minor crisis, and for a week I really thought about everything possible, but I do not think that I would have finished my career. I like sports very much and it's hard to get away from it.

Fabjan mentioned that he will take you open hands as a coach. Is this a realistic option?

Of course. With my heart I remain in Slovenia, this is my country and I love it. I have been and will always be a Slovenian, there is no doubt about it. In 10, 15 years I will probably return to Slovenia and I do not rule out the possibility of being a coach here or otherwise helping the connection. We will see how things will develop.

What kind of contract binds you to the Turkish national team? Is this a contract for a specific cycle, say the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games?

Until the end of the career, we did not exactly come to an end.

What was the reaction of the public? What feedback did you receive?

I expected several negative comments in the style of betrayal, but they were not. It seems to me that she has considered the positive that people have afforded me to go abroad and try to provide the means for my life. Many people know the situation, we do not even have a regular annuity in Slovenia after the end of our career.

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