By Brendan Shriver, Duke Sports Information Intern
DURHAM, N.C.-- Ana Belac has represented her country, Slovenia, numerous times at tournaments throughout the world. However, her trip to compete in the Mediterranean Games in Spain this summer was an interesting experience.
“This was actually very similar to the Youth Olympics that I played four years ago,” commented Belac. “Obviously, it was about having 88 athletes from our country for different sports. It’s really fun because we all stayed in the same hotel and it was great getting to know other people from different sports. It was more of an event than a tournament. You have fun and meet new people and obviously you want to play really well. The purpose though is to play golf.”
The tournament had an Olympic type of feel.
“It’s basically the Olympics but it’s more locally,” said Belac. “There are 31 countries. It’s on a smaller scale.”
Belac performed well, coming away with two bronze medals and placing third individually and with the team.
“There was some expectations because it was a tournament that I really wanted to do well at,” commented Belac. “It was just a great experience being able to play good golf for four days. The first round was a little bit of a struggle even though I managed to keep myself together and finish strong.”
Belac was very happy to earn her medals.
“Just getting that medal was pretty emotional for me because I represented my country and playing for my country’s uniform was something special because I don’t get to do that a lot lately,” added Belac.”
Belac thinks that this tournament will serve as a good starting point to compete for her country in the next couple of years.
“The tournament gave me some confidence and to learn how to play in the winning circle,” said Belac. “I’ve played in the last group the last two days. Being in the leading flight is just a different attitude that and you have to have it when you’re playing somewhere in between the field. It was obviously a great experience to learn how to handle the pressure and to handle all the external factors that can affect your game.”
During the tournament in Spain, Belac was able to spend a lot of time with one of her good friends, who was also one of the Slovenian golfers.
“I’m really good friends with my teammate from home,” said Belac. “She is 16. She’s kind of like a mini-me. It’s really nice to see how much she’s developed in the last couple of years and it means a lot to me to be her role model and such a good friend.”
Belac also had a friend from back home who was four years older than her, thought of her as her role model while she was growing up and said that it was nice to pass on the legacy on to the younger players.
Belac will compete for her country again in the World Championship in Ireland the first week of classes. The tournament is every two years.
“I’m really looking forward to that,” commented Belac. “I think this experience was a great indicator of where I am in a bigger scale. It’ll give me motivation to keep working hard.”
Looking down the road, Belac hopes she will have a chance to compete in the Olympics for Slovenia.
“It would not be one of my main goals but a dream, especially being part of the first generation of Olympic golfers in the Junior Olympics and repeating that in two years would be great,” commented Belac.
Heading into her junior season, Belac is really excited for what lies ahead.
“It’s nice to be an upperclassman,” said Belac. “Our team obviously changed a lot from last year to this year but I think we’ll be a new team that will do just as well as last year’s team.”
Belac is also trying to take more of a leadership role this year.
“I learned a lot from Lisa and Leona [Maguire] while they were here,” added Belac. “I’ll try to use as much of what I can in my leadership position.”
Following competing in Spain, Belac came back to Durham to take classes in summer school.
“It’s a lot of work because summer classes are meant to take only one, not two classes,” said Belac. “But I’m taking two. It doesn’t leave me much time for golf. I try to use the time wisely and work on my game as much as possible but it’s not my main priority right now.”
Once her summer classes are over, Belac will go back home for 10 days.
“It’s always good to go home,” said Belac. “The main thing is eating good food that my mom prepares and having the local food that I can’t get here in Durham. I live on the beach so it’s just nice to walk on the beach for two minutes for dependency and then go back and also go see my friends.”