It Is Possible to Be Invincible
My entire nation is my silent and strong comrade. I share every step on the stage with them. Not betraying your neighbors is a great achievement. I think I will have real impressions about everything only when all this passes and when the time comes to classify memories. (…) If you are not decisive, you cannot achieve anything good. It is my attitude in life, sport only helped me shape some procedures and ways. Karate helps children and young people grow into personalities, differentiate good and bad, resist fear and infirmity

By: Dejan Bulajić
Photo: Predrag Mirić and Personal Archive

She is a winner. She is aware of it, without any wish to flatter herself.
She feels it. She recognizes the pulse.
She does not need medals to convince her how high she ascended; however many medals stand on her chest.
At the end of the year signed with her name, the story about her was best told by the flag she carried at the closing of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. That flag carried the name of Serbia… and her name.
– It is something that cannot be described with words. You can try to say something, you can cry, laugh, but… carrying the flag of your country in your hands, before the face of the entire world… after everything I had achieved at the Games in Tokyo… it is something the heart keeps within, the chest takes as a breath they were waiting for their entire life. It is the chin that trembles and the tear that remains on the edge of the eyelashes. Only then I realized what a dream come true means.
Those who welcomed her as champion led her to another breath. As a smile, a wide picture of joy in front of the Old Palace in Belgrade, in the name of all those, far away and unknown, on all sides of Serbia, who have been celebrating such successes for a long time as their only joy.
– It was very touching for me. I could not keep my tears from running. Only then I became aware of the entire meaning, the entire story. You cannot create anything if you don’t share it with someone, you cannot bring yourself joy if you don’t share it with others. Now I know – my people showed me that they were my accomplice, my silent comrade, strong and quiet wind from the Serbian passes where there is no betrayal. With them I share the steps to the stage, and I am happy for not failing them. Is there a greater achievement – not to fail your neighbor!?
Impressions about the trophy year are slowly calming down. Everything Jovana touched turned to gold. The Olympics and then the World Championship.
– I think it is still early to collect real impressions about everything I have done, especially at the Olympics, which I dedicated my previous years to. Impressions are replacing one another, there is always a new one coming up and they are all important. Sometimes I feel that even I cannot explain myself in 2021. Perhaps one day, when I leave everything behind me and settle accounts, I will be able to classify memories and understand how I managed to realize my wishes.


What was more difficult – winning Olympic gold or defending the World gold?
– I went to the Olympics entirely aware of myself and the circumstances accompanying me. I knew I was the first Serbian karateka at the Olympic Games, and that I am facing high expectations. I also knew what to expect from myself. It was tiresome, but I went step by step, not hesitating before challenges. I wanted the gold and wasn’t ready for any compromises. The World Championship was different and thus probably more difficult. I was emotionally emptied after the Olympic Games, I needed a longer pause, expectations were greater and thereby pressure was greater too. I arrived at the Championship as defender of the title. Finally, two days before the finals, I had health problems, and I did not feel well. Luckily, I was up to that challenge as well and here I am with two biggest golds in the same year.
Her decisiveness, radiating from every move she makes, her body posture, facial expression is particularly impressive.
– It is something coming out of me both unconsciously and consciously. This is how I present myself to my opponents and the audience. If you are not decisive, you cannot achieve anything good, and I really don’t have the time to wait for another opportunity. Besides, I have in mind that people consider karate a bit exotic, cinematically attractive, but actually know little about it. With my attitude, I want to show them what a karate fighter is, what one has to be like in order to be among the best. It is an image of those who are self-assured and know what they want. I hope this will inspire children to try this sport and imagine themselves as future champions.
Is such decisiveness her attitude in life as well?
– Definitely, yes! It is my attitude in life and sport only helped me shape some procedures and manners. Life is an arena which largely surpasses the athletic stage, and it would be a pity to miss all the lessons coming from both sides, valuable for growing into mature persons.
Are martial arts a good place for gaining useful characteristics?
– My sister and I began training karate at the age of five, when Roksanda Lazarević opened a karate school in our kindergarten. The efforts and patience she invested in working with such small children was impressive. Already my first experiences were wonderful. Something completely different. As time passed, I was more and more attached to sport, because it helped me better understand many situations in life, which are often not entirely clear to young people. Karate profiles the good in people and things that need to be changed. If you are not capable of perfecting your spirit, however strong your punches are, it will not help you. That is why I recommend parents to bring their children to karate. It will help them grow into mature persons, who differentiate good and bad, who know how to confront fear and infirmity, who will not give up on their objectives. Especially in times of difficulties, which we must not yield to.


She expresses the characteristics gained in other areas. She is a successful student at two faculties and serves in the Serbian Army.
– I have been member of the athletic military unit since 2019, which objective is to promote the Army and certain way of life. As affirmed athletes, we are here to draw attention to the values promoted by our army with our results and appearances in the public, and one of them is certainly the fighting spirit. We occasionally hold certain classes within the sports we belong to and slowly prepare the ground for activities we will turn to in the Serbian Army after our active careers. As for my education, I am very satisfied with what I have achieved up to now. I am student of the final year at the Faculty for Sports and Physical Education, as well as the ”Union Nikola Tesla” University. My rhythm is very strenuous, but I attempt to find enough time for all obligations. Sport is, of course, in the focus of my attention and it will be so until the end of my active career.
Where does she see herself after her active career?
– My objective is to, before all, enjoy everything karate offers, because this is what gives me the biggest pleasure. After my active career, I would like to stay in touch with sports. I am sure I have plenty to pass on to younger generations, because I have gained valuable experiences. Whether it will be coaching or another field of sports, I don’t know right now. But I am certain I would like to stay in sports.
What else does she spend her time in, besides regular obligations?
– My daily routine takes most of my time: reading books, walking through the park, spending time with friends, family gatherings. However, there is something I am more and more interested in. It is psychology. With everything I have experienced in sport and life, I realized how important it is to have your inner being stable and what it is like when it is infringed. I have a wish to spend more time studying psychology after I complete my studies, to confirm some of my experiences and find answers to questions which are still intriguing me.
Roksanda Atanasov Lazarević as coach and friend?
– She has been the most active part of my life for many years now, perhaps even more than many of my family members. Everything I have achieved in karate has her imprints. She was there when I started, when I was correcting my mistakes, when I was celebrating and when I was sad. She imperceptibly took a place in my life which belongs to greatest friends and people who have a strong influence on me. In many aspects, she probably knows me better than I know myself. I am grateful for everything she has done to me and everything we went through together.
In her category, Jovana is number one on all levels – Olympic, world and European gold. How will she move on and where to?
– Last year I made a decision that this year, 2021, will be golden. I remembered, however, that it means that I must not lose a single match. I have always wondered how that is possible – not to lose a single match in a year. Then I reached the answer myself. If you are ready to dedicate yourself completely and be entirely responsible in every moment, it is possible to be invincible. I managed it and I confirmed my beliefs. Under the impression of all that, I am still not putting together the mosaic of future plans. Of course, I will continue in this sport, but I still cannot say what my priorities will be. A bit of rest will help me perceive my near future more clearly. Until them, I will enjoy the present moment.


Jovana Preković (1996) was born in Switzerland, where her parents were working. She spent her early childhood with her grandparents in the village of Misača near Aranđelovac. She completed ”Svetolik Ranković” elementary school and ”Miloš Savković” gymnasium in Aranđelovac. She is student of the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education and ”Union – Nikola Tesla” University in Belgrade. Member of the ”Knjaz” Karate Club in Aranđelovac and member of the Serbian national team. She is Olympic champion (Tokyo 2021), two times world champion (Madrid 2018, Dubai 2021) and two times European (Poreč 2021, Izmit 2017) in the kumite category up to 61 kilograms. She serves in the army, member of the Republic of Serbia Ministry of Defense Sports Unit.


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