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#LEGENDSFOREVER GORDAN KOŽULJ

Ovaj vrhunski plivač prekid svoje plivačke karijere nije shvatio kao kraj, već kao novi početak.

„Nijedan uspjeh nije toliko snažno pokretačko gorivo kao neuspjeh, jer nas upravo neuspjeh potiče na potrebne promjene i iskorake.“

Gordan Kožulj je bivši hrvatski plivač i višestruki državni rekorder leđnim stilom, član HAPK Mladost. U svojoj sportskoj karijeri postigao je niz vrhunskih sportskih rezultata među kojima treba istaknuti osvajanje naslova američkog (1998.), europskog (2000., 2001., 2002.) i svjetskog (2000.) plivačkog prvaka, te obaranje europskog (100m leđno) i svjetskog (200m leđno u malom bazenu) rekorda. Temeljem tih rezultata proglašen je najboljim hrvatskim sportašem 1999. (po izboru “Sportskih novosti”) i 2002. godine (po izboru Hrvatskog olimpijskog odbora) te je 1999. godine dobitnik Državne nagrade za šport “Franjo Bučar”. Također, odlukom Predsjednika Republike odlikovan je Redom Danice Hrvatske s likom Franje Bučara za posebne zasluge u sportu (1996.), a dobitnik je i posebne nagrade Hrvatskog olimpijskog odbora za najboljeg promicatelja hrvatskog sporta u svijetu.

Tijekom profesionalnog bavljenja sportom samostalno je upravljao svojom karijerom pri tome uvevši novi marketinški pristup promocije individualnih sportaša na hrvatskom tržištu, a u sklopu koje je uspješno realizirao brojne marketinške kampanje s Podravkom, Uniqa osiguranjem, Vindijom i drugim kompanijama. Ujedno, za Iskon Internet (danas net.hr) pisao je kolumne tijekom 2001. godine, a za pojedine dnevne novine i portale (npr. Jutarnji list) povremene članke.

Paralelno s karijerom vrhunskog sportaša Gordan Kožulj stvarao je pretpostavke za ono što slijedi: posao i život vrhunskog stručnjaka. Znajući da od plivačke karijere će teško osigurati egzistenciju, prihvatio je stipendiju vrhunskog Berkeley Sveučilišta Kalifornija koje ima i izniman plivački program. 2000. godine tamo je diplomirao političku ekonomiju, te u Hrvatskoj završivši poslijediplomski specijalistički studiji MBA (Master of Business Administration – sveučilišni specijalist poslovnog upravljanja) pri Ekonomskom fakultetu Sveučilišta u Zagrebu. Također, Gordan je certificirani voditelj projekata: Project Management Professional (PMP) koje izdaje međunarodna institucija Project Management Institute (PMI).

Nakon završetka sportske karijere, Gordan je nastavio s profesionalnim radom kao savjetnik u Madison Consultingu. Od 2013. zaposlenik je ugledne tvrtke Deloitte u odjelu poslovnog savjetovanja gdje pomaže tvrtkama i institucijama u planiranju, razvoju i restrukturiranju kroz rješavanje ključnih pitanja kao što su strategija, alokacija troškova, procesi i upravljanje promjenama. U sklopu svojih stručnih znanja, držao je predavanja na brojnim poslovnim konferencijama (npr. Outsourcing Day 2015., Business u sportu – BUS, 2017.) te pisao članke u poslovnim medijima (Lider).

Bio je direktor Hrvatskog plivačkog saveza te je uspješno vodio kandidaturu Zagreba i Rijeke za Europske sveučilišne igre 2016.

Od 2010. do 2019. Gordan je bio član Nacionalnog vijeća za sport, stručnog i savjetodavnog tijela Hrvatskog sabora za sva pitanja u području sporta. Nadalje, na poziv Agencije za znanost i visoko obrazovanje, Gordan je bio član stručnog povjerenstva za akreditaciju visokih učilišta čija je zadaća ocjenjivanje kvalitete visokih učilišta. Također, za potrebe Europske Komisije, odnosno Izvršne agencije za obrazovanje, audiovizualne medije i kulturu (engl. Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)) Gordan djeluje kao ekspert za evaluaciju projektnih prijava na razini cijele Europe iz područja programa Erasmus+ Sport.

Od 2009. do 2013. bio je član Komisije sportaša pri European Olympic Committes.

Gordan je rado viđena javna ličnost koja se uključuje u razne dobrotvorne akcije, te se odaziva na većinu poziva za sudjelovanje, a posebno na ona vezana za business i sport.

Nakon povratka s Olimpijskih igara u Pekingu 2008. njegova karijera praktički je završila. No, htio se oprostiti od plivanja ne Europskom prvenstvu u Rijeci pred domaćom publikom. Iako je bio svjestan da, unatoč golemu odricanju, ne može napraviti puno, Kožulj je i tih posljednjih mjeseci, u kojima je već bio svjestan da je plivanje prošlost, trenirao kao da su ispred njega najbolje godine u bazenu.

Od povratka s OI počeo se psihički pripremati za život poslije plivanja. Znao je da neće biti lako, da se toliko godina ne može samo tako izbrisati, i krenuo je u pripremu za novi život, život bez bazena.

Nakon EP u Rijeci postavši napokon svjestan da je njegova sportska karijera gotova, nije dugo žalio i živio od sjećanja, već se ekspresno okrenuo svom novom životu. U samo mjesec dana bio je na nekoliko razgovora za posao, te je već 18 dana nakon završetka plivačke karijere počeo raditi na novom poslu u agenciji Madison Consulting.

Iz intervjua sa Gordanom Kožuljom

O usklađivanju sportskih i akademskih obveza:

Smatram da je za svakoga sportaša izuzetno važno voditi računa o tome. Sportska karijera počinje vrlo rano, ja sam svoju počeo u predškolskoj dobi, te jednako tako rano i završava (u usporedbi s drugim profesijama). U prosjeku, vrhunski sportaši i sportašice završavaju sportsku karijeru u dobi između 25. i 30. godine, što znači da im preostaje 2/3 života o kojemu trebaju na vrijeme razmišljati i pripremati se. Pa čak i za one koji su dovoljno zaradili te nemaju egzistencijalnih problema i potrebe tražiti svoje mjesto na tržištu rada, potrebno im je naći dublji smisao te smjer svoje osobne i intelektualne realizacije. Zato je izuzetno važno razvijati sve svoje dimenzije: tjelesne, mentalne i duhovne.

O prijekidu sportske karijere:

Kraj karijere može donijeti svojevrsni PTSP. Tranzicija predstavlja veliki problem jer sportska karijera prečesto započinje vrlo rano, pa se sportaš sjeća vrlo malo svog života izvan sporta koji je postao njegov identitet. Ako si bio vrhunski i cijenjen, često se pitaš tko si ti sada i koliko vrijediš ako tih uspjeha više nema.

Gordan je usporedio poslovni uspjeh u svijetu financija s uspjehom u sportu:

On se postiže kombinacijom talenta i rada koji se multipliciraju sa strašću. Uz to se svaki sportaš, kao i savjetnik za financije treba voditi primjerima najboljih mentora i trenera te biti spreman na odricanja i disciplinu

Također objasnio je i utjecaj sporta na ostale dijelove života:

S obzirom na to da sport jača talent, a osobu koja se njime bavi izlaže iznimnim naporima i ekstremnim uvjetima, zapravo izvlači na vidjelo najslabije točke nečijeg karaktera. Najveća je vrijednost sporta što pokazuje snažne i slabe strane, kako fizičke, tako i psihološke.

Priča je preuzeta sa glavne stranice projekta: projects.multisportclubs.eu

This top swimmer did not take the finish of his swimming career as the end, but as a new beginning.

“Success is never as powerful motivator as is failure, because only failure leads us to the necessary changes and breakthroughs.”

Gordan Kožulj is a former Croatian swimmer, a multiple state record breaker, member of HAŠK Mladost. In his sports career he accomplished a number of top athletic achievements, including the title of the American (1998), European (2000, 2001, 2002) and World Champion (2000), as well as the European (100m) and World (200m back in a small pool) record holder. Based on these results, he was named best Croatian athlete in 1999 by Sportske Novosti and again in 2002 by the Croatian Olympic Committee. In 1999 he was also awarded the Croatian State Prize for Sports “Franjo Bučar”. In addition, he was awarded the Order of Danica of Croatia by the President of the Croatian Republic with the figure of Franjo Bučar for Special Merits in Sports (1996), and he is also the winner of the Special Award of the Croatian Olympic Committee as the Best Promoter of Croatian Sports in the World.

During his sports career, he independently managed his career by introducing a new marketing approach to promoting individual athletes in the Croatian market, and he successfully realized numerous marketing campaigns with Podravka, Uniqa Insurance, Vindija and other companies. He also wrote columns for Iskon Internet (today net.hr) during 2001, as well as occasional articles for the daily newspapers and portals (e.g. Jutarnji list).

Parallel to his career as a top athlete Gordan Kožulj created the premises for his post athletic career: the business career and life of a top expert. Knowing that his swimming career would not ensure his existence, he accepted a scholarship from Berkeley, University of California that also has an exceptional swimming program. In 2000, he graduated in Political Economics and later on in Croatia graduated as Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Zagreb. Gordan is also a certified project manager: Project Management Professional (PMP) issued by the International Institute of Project Management Institute (PMI).

After finishing his sports career, Gordan continued his professional career as an advisor at Madison Consulting. Since 2013 he has been working in Deloitte, a prominent company in the business consulting department, where he works on helping companies and institutions in planning, developing and restructuring through solving key issues such as strategy, cost allocation, processes, and change management. As part of his expertise, he held lectures at numerous business conferences (e.g. Outsourcing Day 2015, Business in Sports – BUS, 2017) and wrote articles in business media (Lider).

He was the director of the Croatian Swimming Association and he successfully conducted the candidacy of Zagreb and Rijeka for the European University Games 2016.

From 2010 to 2019, Gordan was a member of the National Council for Sports, expert and advisory body of the Croatian Parliament for all issues in the field of sport. Furthermore, at the invitation of the Agency for Science and Higher Education, Gordan was a member of the commission for the accreditation of higher education institutions, whose task is to evaluate the quality of higher education institutions. Also, Gordan works as an expert on evaluation of project applications across Europe from the Erasmus + Sport program for the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Commission.

From 2009 to 2013 he was a member of the Athletics Commission at the European Olympic Committees.

Gordan is well known public figure involved in various charitable actions and responds to most of the calls for participation, especially those related to business and sports.

Upon his return from Beijing Olympics in 2008, his career was practically finished. But he wanted to say goodbye to swimming at the European Championship in Rijeka, Croatia in front of the local crowd. Although he was aware that he could not do much despite his huge efforts, in these last months, already aware that his swimming career was in the past, he trained as if the best years in the pool were still to come.

Since returning from the Olympic games, he began mentally preparing for life after swimming. He knew that it would not be easy for him to forget so many years of sport, so he started preparing for a new life, a life without the pool and started going for job interviews.

From interviews with Gordan Kožulj

On harmonizing sport and academic obligations:

I believe that it is extremely important for every athlete to think about both. The sport career begins very early, my career started at preschool age, and ends just as early (compared to other professions). On average, top athletes finish their sports careers between the ages of 25 and 30, meaning that there are still 2/3 of their lives that they need to think about and prepare for in time. Even for those who have earned enough and do not have the existential problems and the need to look for their place in the labour market, they need to find a deeper meaning and the direction for their personal and intellectual realization. That is why it is extremely important to develop all dimensions of a person: physically, mentally and spiritually.

The end of a Sports Career:

The end of a career can create a kind of PTSD. The transition is a big problem because the sports career starts very early, so the athlete remembers very little of his life beyond the sport that became his identity. If you were a superior athlete and highly appreciated, you often wonder who you are now and what your value is after these successes are gone.

Gordan has compared his business success in the world of finance with success in sports:

Success is achieved through a combination of talents and work that are multiplied by passion. In addition, every athlete, as well as a financial advisor, should be guided by examples of the best mentors and coaches, and be prepared for resignation and discipline.

He also explained the impact of sports on other parts of life:

Given that sport strengthens talent, and the person who has sport experiences, exceptional exertion and extreme conditions, this actually shows what are the weakest points of one’s character. The greatest value of sport is that it shows strong and weak sides of a person, both physical and psychological.