As Sitting Volleyball gains acknowledgment as a Paralympic sport, people who have made their contribution to its growth are also getting recognition.
Recently, Adolf Urnaut received the Bloudek Award, Slovenian Volleyball’s highest national sports honour, for his lifetime achievements while Peter Končnik was honoured with the Bloudek Plaque for his lifetime dedication to sports.
Having served both Slovenia and the Yugoslavia for more than 60 years, Urnaut – fondly called Adi – has made his mark both as a player and a coach. He steered the Slovenian Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team to a silver finish at the 2002 World Championship and took home the bronze in 2000 and 2006. Adi is also called the shots in his team’s European Championship run in 1999. His stint as their sitting volleyball team’s coach is capped off with 10 more silver and bronze medal at the European Championship, Intercontinental Cup, and European Cup, as well as three appearances in the Paralympic games.
Currently, Adi is the head coach of the Sitting Volleyball club Samorastnik and conducts volleyball clinics in Slovenia from time to time. The Urnauts are a familiar name to the Slovenian volleyball scene as Adi’s wife, Anita, represented their country in indoor volleyball before switching to sitting volleyball in 1992 after developing a knee disability. Anita decided to hang up her jersey after participating in the 2012 London Paralympics where they finished at 6th place overall. His son Tine, on the other hand, serves as their men’s volleyball national team’s captain and a steady contributor for the Italian club Azimut Modena.
Meanwhile, Peter Končnik made his way from being a member of both the Slovenian and Yugoslavian youth national teams to being a respected World ParaVolley and ParaVolley Europe Referees Commission official. In his refereeing career, Končnik has officiated a total of 1,500 national and 1,000 international matches including matches in two Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996, and several Paralympic Games. Aside from being a high-ranking official, he also currently serves as a member of the European Refereeing Commission.