The Serb from Monaco, Danilo Andjusic, is married to Ivana Maksimovic, an ace rifle shooter, twice European champion and silver medalist at the London Olympics in 2012. He tells on the Euroleague website their meeting and the benefits they both derive from being top athletes.
“It’s a great story because one of my best friends is another basketball player, Djordje Drenovac. He is playing in Hungary now and we have known for a long time. We played against each other when we were kids, in the same town, so we started hanging out and having good times together. I was the best man at his wedding, so he’s really one of my closest friends. In 2013, he participated in the Mediterranean Games. Ivana was also there (Editor’s note: she won the gold medal in the 50-meter rifle) and they were hanging out together. She was already an elite athlete; she had already won the silver medal at the London Olympics and I was watching her on TV. So as soon as he came back, I asked him, ‘Have you met her? What is she like ?’ Because she was beautiful in the photos! He told me she was a nice girl, so I said ‘okay, you have to introduce us to each other someday’. A few months later, we were at the same place and at the same time, so Djordje came up to me and said, ‘Hey, do you know who’s there? Ivana!’ So I was like, ‘Good! It’s a good time to meet and start talking! That’s how it all started and the rest is history!
The couple received very good media attention in Serbia.
“When we started dating she was already famous so it was fun and a good time for us to remember that. People still recognized her and we were a new athletic couple so it was interesting for people to talk about it. People liked to see that it was possible for two professional athletes with their own to have a good relationship, so it was fun for everyone.
In his own opinion, being two top athletes reinforces their competitiveness.
“It helps a lot. Even if in everything there is good and bad, and the bad side is that at the beginning we were separated a lot because she was traveling for her competitions so we didn’t have too much time for us. But on the other hand, we understand each other, so she understood when I have a bad game, when I need to rest, or when we need to do something, what to say to me. And the same for me when she has a contest. It really helps when you can have someone who can figure that out, so that’s a really good thing. She’s probably…not probably…she’s definitely been my biggest supporter since day one, and I try to support her as well.
The couple married in 2015 and the following year they had a special time together when Ivana Maksimovic was named Serbia’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Brazil. Looking back on that summer, Andjusic smiles:
“Carrying your country’s flag is a great honor for her and for our whole family. When that happens, the whole world watches. You represent your country, you are in front of all the great athletes that our country has. It’s something something special and even now I have goosebumps when I talk about it. At that time I was not in the national team but I went to Rio to see Ivana and support her, and I’m happy to have been there. I went with my brother and his father was there too because he was his coach. It was something huge in our lives.
Danilo and Ivana welcomed their second child last summer. She therefore took a break from competition at the start of her motherhood, but her husband reveals that she plans to return in the future with a very special shared ambition:
“She stopped shooting for a while, but her big wish is to come back and try to get a place for the Paris Olympics in 2024. We have the same common goal that maybe we both can do part of our respective teams at the Olympics, together. A husband and wife going to the same Olympics to compete in different sports, that hasn’t happened too often, so that would be really special for us.