Aleksandar Gmitrović is one of those players whose career could go differently if not for the Coronavirus. When Aleksandar was just 17, he made his debut for Red Star in the volleyball Champions League against the then-champion ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle. He also won many trophies with Red Star in Serbia, where he was selected as the best young player in the league, on top with the best player and top scorer awards in 2017. This did not go unnoticed by the then coach Nikola Grbić, who called him to the national team. He continued his career with the Greek club Ethnikos, however for the last two years, he has been successfully presenting the colors of Montenegro champion Budva Volley.
When did you start playing volleyball?
Like most kids, I practiced soccer, then switched to volleyball because it was very popular in my elementary school in Belgrade. It was attractive and exciting to go to practice with friends. I had my first volleyball training at 11 in the elementary school gym. This is where my love for this sport began.
What made you decide to play this sport?
As a kid, I liked to follow all kinds of sports. Interestingly, I became aware of volleyball at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sidney, when our men’s volleyball team won the gold medal. The best example of this is the famous point by Vanja Grbic, which is still considered the best point in the history of volleyball. After this event, I began to dream that one day I would be able to win a gold medal in the national jersey.
What does an average day of a professional athlete look like during his season?
As in any sport, good time management is necessary to prepare as well as possible for each game and tournament. I usually start my day with a gym session or a morning workout in the gym, which lasts about an hour and a half. After that, I try to rest as much as possible until the second part of the day, when another training session in the gym is waiting for me. With this kind of rhythm, the best results are achieved. I devote as much as possible to my family and friends on the days off I have during the week because that fulfills me the most. It also gives me extra motivation to be better on the court.
How did you position yourself as an opposite hitter in volleyball? Considering that your original position in this field was that of an outside hitter.
When I was on the border between the junior selection and the first team of Red Star, there was much competition at the outside hitter position. At that time, Red Star was the best club in Serbia and had four experienced receiver players with great playing qualities. Because there was only one receiver in the club at the time, coach Dusko Nikolic moved me to the outside hitter position because he wanted to integrate me into the first team. With time the coach recognized my potential as an opposite hitter and gave me more chances to play, even though I was the youngest in the team. I justified his trust by achieving good results in the games.
What problems have you encountered during your career?
The biggest ‘problems’ during my career can be described as the great competition in the national team and the clubs where I played. This created a great desire to continue proving myself and become better. In general, I had no problems except for the inevitable injuries. When I was on the junior team, I had problems with my ankles, which caused me many problems at the time. Over time, with my professional approach, I managed to keep the number of injuries to a minimum.
How much work and effort do you put into achieving this goal?
Over my career, I have invested more in my achieved goals and awards than I thought I could. Each time, I surprised myself with how much energy I had because I exceeded my expectations and achieved goals that I thought were impossible. All of this required many sacrifices because, at the time, I was developing my career at the professional level, and my peers were going out and taking trips. For a kid going through puberty at the time, it took a lot of mental strength and needed toughness.
What is the ideal atmosphere on the volleyball court for you?
Specific chemistry in the team is an essential thing in sports today. It is created both on and off the volleyball court. I can say that it is perhaps even more important in the area because it
indeed transfers to it afterwards. Through various team-building activities and get-togethers, chemistry can be established with other players, and a sense of community can be created, which is essential for the game and the further development of the team. Of course, in addition to good chemistry, you also need a strong will to win because that’s the only way the team can reach the goal. For me, those things represent the ideal atmosphere on the court.
Which of your previous achievements are you particularly proud of?
There are several. The most significant achievement in my career was when I was on the list of the senior national team roster. Although I never played for the senior national team, the feeling of being in preparation is still extraordinary. Of course. Besides that, of course, there are the successes I achieved as a player for Red Star, where I was named the league’s best young player, best player, and top scorer. My favorite is that I was captain of all the junior divisions and later of the senior team of Red Star.
What are your goals for the next three years?
Every athlete is most interested in avoiding injuries when it comes to the next period. I want to achieve more victories in European competitions with my current club in the following seasons because wins and these games fulfill me.
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
I would change my choice of club in Greece. That decision cost me a lot down the road and slowed my progress. I also wish the Coronavirus pandemic had not happened because it affected most athletes negatively. It mainly affected me because some transfers I had at that time fell through.
Which of your professional qualities do you consider the most valuable?
What adorns me the most is, first of all, my love for the sport. Beyond that, my most outstanding qualities are the dedication and hard work I put in every day.
What are you most grateful for?
I am most grateful to my family, who believed in me from the beginning and, at the same time, was the most extensive support when I did not know how much I needed someone to be with me. also to the coaches who recognized my potential and talent and dared to let me play when no one else would. I am also thankful for volleyball as a sport because it taught me many things in life and shaped me as a person.
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