Olivera Jevtic - The Doe from the Djetinja River
For many years now, Olivera Jevtic has been the best Serbian runner. In her long and successful career, this Uzice-born athlete has brought Serbia many medals and records. As a junior, she continuously won medals at the world and European championships from 1995 to 1999. Her greatest achievements are the gold medal in the 10,000m race and the bronze medal in the 5,000m race won in only two days at the European Championship in Goeteborg, Sweden, in 1999. She won the silver medal in the marathon at the 2006 European Athletics Championship in Gothenburg, and still holds the Serbian marathon record of 2:25:23, established at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2003. She has been awarded for the best sportsperson of the Year in Yugoslavia and Serbia several times.
Olivera Jevtic is currently preparing for her fourth Olympic Games (after Sydney, Athens and Beijing), and although very, busy, she managed to find some time for our BBC News School Report team.
BBC School team: Who was your idol in your youth?
OJ: Snezana Pajkic. I remember the 90s, when I was starting, she ran in Split, at the European Championship. I watched TV with my mother and I said that I wanted to be like her. 16 years later at the same competition I won the silver medal.
BBC School team: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
OJ: Well, there have been a lot of races, but the most important one is definitely the silver medal at the European Championships in Gothenburg, 2006th.
BBC School team: If you weren't a runner, what would you do?
OJ: Volleyball. In my youth I trained volleyball and athletics, I was even in a volleyball team, but I opted for athletics.
BBC School team: Was it difficult for you in a country like Serbia to succeed in the world of athletics?
OJ: It was lucky that I had great junior results, some of them were valuable in the senior category. I also had very strong junior competitions, so it was easier among the seniors.
BBC School team: How do you prepare for the upcoming Olympic Games?
OJ: I started very well . I did the preparatory part in Kenya, where I was for 50 days. Kenya suits me best as is the case with most of the world champions. In Kenya the temperature was about 25 degrees, so I escaped the cold weather.
BBC School team: What is your greatest goal?
OJ: To win a medal at the Olympic Games. In 2004 I was close, but I finished sixth due to injury.
BBC School team: You meet a lot of athletes, but who who has made the strongest impression on you?
OJ: Milorad Cavic and Novak Djokovic, definitely.
BBC School team: Are you proud of the fact that you are the best athlete of Uzice?
OJ: It flatters me, but I stand firmly on the ground, because everything I got, I got because I fought for it.
BBC School team: Do women involved in professional sports have to give up moments reserved only for them?
OJ: Actually, no. Even when I'm at a competition, there’s always time for sightseeing and stuff like that.
BBC School team: How often do you travel?
OJ: This was the fourth time I had been in Kenya to prepare, and I often travel to various championships during the year.
BBC School team: How you spend your free time when you are not training?
OJ: I don’t have much free time, but I always find it for friends . I usually go to the seaside or to Zlatibor with them. Also when I’m not training, I like to walk.
BBC School team: Are there times when you want to give up athletics?
OJ: There are moments, but you have to fight, because as they say what doesn’t kill you, that makes you stronger. An integral part of sport are the ups and downs, success and failure. After the Olympic Games in 2004 I hit the bottom and I thought it would be the end of my career, but the next year I was the best athlete of Serbia. That strengthened me and gave me the power to fight.
BBC School team: What would you say to the readers for the end, especially for future athletes?
OJ: Work and efforts produce results. You must be persistent to reach your goal. We, the athletes, have four rules called TITO (TNTR)-talent, nutrition, training and rest. As they say, who sticks to TITO, he’ll be the champion.
Olivera Jevtic is not only a great athletic champion, but an admirable person as well. She has never left her hometown and has constantly promoted it throughout the world. Thanks to her, athletics is one of the most popular sports in this part of Serbia and she has become a role model for many young runners whom she wholeheartedly helps whenever she can.
Seeing her run frequently along the Djetinja River, the people of Uzice have named her ’the Doe from the Djetinja’. May this Doe run fastest ever at the next Olympics!
Text and photos by Ivana, Katarina and Milica, Uzice