Aleksandar Sasha Dimitric – Handball Legend in Former Yugoslavia and in Oz!
My husband Aleksandar Sasha Dimitric introduced European Handball to Australia in 1983 and was Technical Manager for Handball at the Olympics 2000 in Sydney.
He was recognised in my previous post by a blogger (gamche) who commented: “Aleksandar Dimitrić Zvezdina rukometna legenda??? (the Red Star Handball legend???)”, to which I replied “Yes” and promised to write more about his handball career. Sasha had a big smile when I showed him what “gamche” said and promised to cooperate. Unfortunately, illness intervened, and this project stalled before it had even started.
But when I make a promise, I feel I need to keep it. So, here’s the first instalment.
A long time ago, 18-year-old Aleksandar Dimitrić chose handball over soccer and became one of the best Red Star handball players. He was also a member of the Yugoslav Handball Team at international championships in Germany, Denmark and Norway.
Aleksandar started playing handball in high school (II. muška gimnazija) in Belgrade in 1947 and soon joined the newly formed handball club within the famous Red Star sports club. He first trained on the football field with 11 players in the team, having to shoot from a 14-metre distance, thus developing a powerful shot.
When he switched to “mali rukomet” – “little handball” – with 7 players a side, his shot was so powerful that goal keepers were quite scared of him. In addition, the speed of his movements and a high jump scared all the enemy players, too. He scored quite a few goals.
In 1955, the Red Star handball club became Yugoslavia’s champions, and the event is still talked about today among sports enthusiasts. In 1956, they were champions again. Aleksandar Dimitrić took part in both events, the first in Belgrade, the second in Sarajevo.
To his great regret, he had to pull out of the Yugoslav national team to play in Hungary as he had to finish his studies – he had no right to postpone any more exams.
After obtaining an Engineering Bachelor’s Degree from Belgrade University in 1957, 12 months of compulsory military service followed. He was first sent to Zagreb. As soon as he was recognised as the famous handball star, the officer in charge released him of petty duties and allowed him to train handball with another person during lunchtime. After Zagreb, he was sent to Čačak in Serbia where his life was even better. He had his own room, was appointed chief coach for handball and played in handball competitions regularly for his unit.
When his military service was over, Aleksandar took a skiing holiday on Mount Jahorina in Bosnia in February 1958. Skiing was his other passion. He took part in competitions in slalom and downhill on Kopaonik in Serbia, Šar Planina in Macedonia and on Mount Jahorina in Bosnia. He was a downhill Serbian champion once. He loved speeding down the mountain as much as moving fast on the handball court. Speed was his elixir. One season, he broke three pairs of skis but, luckily, none of his bones.
I loved skiing, too. Mount Jahorina was where destiny put me in late February 1958 to completely change the course of his life.
Adding some more information from the book Almanah Rukometnog Saveza Jugoslavije 1949-1989.
(To be continued)
Copyright (C) 2021 Irina Dimitric