The hardest competition to date

Lieutenant Junior Grade Ante Jović, winner of the “Memorial Major Davor Jović – First for Croatia“

Lieutenant Junior Grade Ante Jović, winner of the “Memorial Major Davor Jović – First for Croatia“

My motive for this year’s race was not to win; I was attracted by the location of the course – in the proximity of  Vukovar and Major Davor Jović  – the hero of the Homeland War, after whom the competition has been named.  … This year, in fact, you had to run all the time. And I do not think anyone can run for 40 kms for five or six hours, do the workposts  with the weight on your back. The gear in my backpack without the rifle weighed 21 kilos …

Last year the competitors in Knin  were puzzled by his absence, expecting to defend the title won in 2016, but Lieutenant Junior Grade Ante Jović he was attending the commando  training which was mandatory to join the Special Forces Command.  Needless to say, he made it. Ten days ago in Vukovar he won the title of the fittest soldier again.

Which title do you cherish more?

The first one is always the most cherished; I had really dreamed of winning it: in 2016 was my fourth competition! When you are really determined to achieve something, you will come close several times and make it eventually, it is really a reward. My motivation for this year’s competition was the location of the course  in Vukovar and the competition’s eponym – Major Davor Jović, the hero of the Homeland War. I wasn’t after winning so much, having won the title already.


You mastered shooting very well, and ranked first after the qualifications already.

I was surprised myself, actually, as all bullets hit the target; the explanation is that I have practiced much more often since joining the Special Forces Command. We may do a bit different shooting practice, but each fired shot  adds to the experience.


Did the shooting score boost  Your self-confidence and faith in winning the competition?

Ihonetly, I wasn/t racking my brain too much about winning; I felt no pressure: I was much more concerned wuth the performance of the colleagues I had coached for the compettion; thez were primarz concern; however, I took the lead and the rest is known.


Did you feel any of the competitors could challenge Your success?

Yes, when I finished the workstation requiring the use of rope I saw Cpl Antun Sudić of the Guards Armoured Mechanised Brigade, who  was closely behind me. I told myself I had to make a greater effort, despite the fact that I got sick while doing the logistic supply workpost, at the 32nd k, and I thougth to myself:“ How will I make it through to Vukovar?“



Logististic supply is a new discipline, which also seems tiresome?

The workposts may seem easy to do when you are an observer, but when you deal with them tired and exhausted, they do pose some challenge. Each sudden mov ement creates convulsions

You did find extra strength, how was it?

I am not sure; I guess others had a hard time too, but were not aware that they still had some strength left. I really did my best.  

The 2018 competition, the fifth one for You, was the hardest?

In the earlier competitions it was like this: the competitors would go off, run for 4-5 km, then entered woods and walk, because of the terrain.  This year however, we were expected tp run all the time. And I don’t  think anyone can run for 40 kms for five or six hours, do the workposts five or six hours, with the weight on your back. The gear in my backpack without the  rifle weighed 21 kilos …

When we talked about Your victory  in the 2016 competition, You said that you voted for even harder  course, say with insertion from helicopter  into an unknown area? Are  You still attracted by the idea?

Absolutely! I would  go for such a competition! Some areas in  the courses so far  allowed normal movement  and were even urban; I would like the competition to be more soldier-like


Are you interested in competing in pairs?

Well, from what I have heard from older soldiers, in previous competitions the participants moved in pairs half the course and then would split up;in campaigns  the soldiers are rarely on their own, they mostly operate  in pairs anyway; it would be a greater challenge for individuals and for units, and would demonstrate which unit has the fittest soldiers.

You are now a member of the Special Forces Command; it was a strong wish?  

That was my dream come true!I have found just what I had been looking for,: everything is far more demanding but at the same time much more interesting compared to other units.

Last year you attended the commando training, missing the competition for the fittest member of the Croatian Armed Forces. What would have happened if You left the training to attend the

One thing I need to say: the competition would be much tougher and it much harder for me to win the title if some soldiers weren’t so busy in their units or missions.

Many guys have enviable readiness; the commando trainees are used to intense tempo and movement and the competition wouldn’t be hard for them. The final phase of the commando training is much like the competition for the fittest solider; the soldiers test their limits and endurance, but also make true friends.  It is a school of life!


Do you miss being aboard the ship, in the engine room?

I am a mechanical engineer by vocation; in addition to graduating from the respective secondary school and faculty. I do love engines and machines,sea and ships but I prefer nature and  unrestrained movement on the ground. I often watch my photos from the ship, I did love it, but …

You practiced sports actively for quite a long time; it appears that the Croatian Armmy is manned by more and more young people as you and that the physical preparedness has been on the rise?

It is so, and it shows in the ever increasing number of sporting and martial arts competitions, from smaller units to the Croatian Armed Forces level. They are motivating for a soldier. Recent policy and decisions promote  readiness on a large scale and aim at greater investment  into sport facilities and equipment.

Do You intend to defend the title next year?

It depends on the location of the competition; i wish it were challenging and taking place in a new area. I am busy however, I need to mind my career, education and participation in international missions. I am presently focussed on my tasks in the Special Forces Command, and it would be more than inappropriate to leave now, bearing in mind my ambition to join the special forces. I am preparing for a large exercise, and don’t even have the time think about  the  victory  in Vukovar.