SYMBOLS Stories of cultural life.

Šalamun Ivan, tragic figure of Maribor Gymnastics

Sculpture of a gymnast on the headstone of the buried here young man is a multifaceted symbol. As well as representing sports activity, that was once the flagship of the city by the river Drava, it is also a symbol of tragic accident of a perspective young gymnasts. Ivan Šalamun, gymnastic prodigy, was fatally injured while performing a difficult gymnastic exercise. In his memory a gymnastic competition in Maribor, now already passing the fifth decade, was named.

The beginnings of Slovenian gymnastics in Maribor dates back to 1907, when Sokol ("Falcon") Maribor association was founded. Its members have played an important role in the shaping of national identity, and later in battles for the northern border. But especially valuable is their contribution in the field of gymnastics. More than two decades after the establishment of association Sokol, its male part of gymnastic team rose into the world top. Two members of Sokol Maribor, Leon Štukelj and Josip Primožič won six Olympic medals (gold, two silver and three bronze) and nine medals at the world championships (six gold medals and three bronze) in the next decade. These golden years of Maribor gymnastic are especially highlighted by the remarkable achievement of Primožič, who at the World Cup in Luxembourg in 1930 won five gold medals. In the same year, a new Sokol Association, Sokol Maribor I, was founded in Maribor.

Thirty-one years later, when the association has already been named for some time the Association for sport and recreation Železničar, a team of its young gymnasts went to Ljubljana. Among them was a young promising gymnast Ivan Šalamun. The second member of the team, Darko Šoštarič, recalls: "We had prepared a collective appearance, which included an attractive element in a kind of rocking board, which allowed that one gymnast bounced off another and perform a backflip" Before performance they had a rehearsal, at which Šoštarič and Špendl got nervous, so the exercise was not implemented. After, they tried again. "Ivan wanted to try again too, but unfortunately this was his last jump. Blinded by the spotlights, he pushed off too fast and there was too much rotation. He crashed with his head on the concrete floor and as result, three days later died in hospital".

In 1967, his friends from gymnastics association Železničar got an idea of organizing a memorial sporting event, which will be named after the tragically deceased colleague. Memorial of Ivan Šalamun was later considered as one of the finest competitions in Yugoslavia. In 1974 became an international competition, and counted in the World Cup competition ... The annual gymnastic competition is a constant sporting event in Maribor. It preserves the memory of friendship and cooperation that has led to success, with happy and tragic stories.

figure of a gymnast