LJUBLJANA, December 19, 2017 - Basketball player Goran Dragić and Alpine skier Ilka Štuhec are the winners of the 2017 Athlete of the Year Awards, which were conferred by the Association of Sport Journalists of Slovenia at a ceremony last Tuesday. The Slovenian men's national basketball team, which won the EuroBasket this year, was declared the best team of the year.
The national team captain and Miami Heat point guard Dragić received 337 points, followed by cyclists and former ski jumper Primož Roglič (162) and his teammate Luka Dončić, one of the best young players in Europe.
Not only that Dragić had lead the team to the gold medal at the EuroBasket for the nation's first gold in team sports at major competitions, he was also declared the most valuable player (MVP) of the tournament.
Dragić came to the tournament as a "completely different person: full of optimism and infectious self-confidence" and deserved the title of the best player of the tournament, the award jury said.
Meanwhile, Roglič entered history as the first Slovenian ever to win a stage at the Tour de France, while also winning silver in the men's time trial at the Road World Championships in Norway.
The best female athlete of the year is Štuhec (376 points), who was honoured for winning the downhill competition in the World Cup and finishing second overall, while also adding the downhill gold at the world championships in St. Moritz.
Štuhec, who has recently had a season-ending knee surgery, is "disappointed for not being able to participate in the Olympic season, but is firmly determined, now also as the athlete of the year, to return to the competition even stronger", the award jury said.
Štuhec is followed by sport climber Janja Garnbret (174), the World Cup champion, and judoka Tina Trstenjak (172), who won silver at the Judo World Championships in September.
The national basketball team was expectedly declared the best team of the year, scoring a total of 126 points, followed by the men's national handball team (22 points), the bronze medallists at the world championships in January.
"The basketball team was the first in history of team sports to make it to the European throne, which will be on the market only in four years. There will be only one champion until then - Slovenia", the award jury said.
Dončić, as another member of the all-tournament team from the EuroBasket apart from Dragić, was also declared the standout young sport personality of the year, succeeding Janja Garnbret.
The ceremony for the 50th Athlete of the Year Award, organised in cooperation with the Slovenian Olympic Committee, was held in the Cankarjev dom arts and conference centre and was broadcast live by national television.
Beforehand, the award winners and other athletes who made notable results this year were received in the Presidential Palace by President Borut Pahor and Education, Science and Sport Minister Maja Makovec Brenčič.
"On behalf of the state and the people I would like to thank you for making us proud and excited and being an inspiration and role models, especially to the young", Pahor said, wishing the athletes a lot of success and joy.