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- 10/02/2006
Croatian swim star Draganja in Qatar U-turn
... never say never

Croatia's Olympic silver medallist Duje Draganja has backed out of a decision to swim for Qatar despite a lucrative offer from the oil-rich Gulf state.
"I met with Duje over the weekend .... We had a long conversation which ended up successfully," the head of Croatia's Olympic Committee, Zlatko Matesa, told Sportske Novosti daily on Thursday.
"The result is that Duje figures on a list of (Croatia's) potential representatives for the Beijing Summer Olympics" in 2008, Matesa said.
Draganja said in December he was joining Qatar after holding talks on a yearly salary of 500,000 dollars (400,000 euros), and 250,000 dollars for each medal he wins in international events.
The 22-year-old had complained at the time of having difficulty in finding a sponsor in Croatia following the expiry of his scholarship at the University of Berkeley, California.
But Draganja said in a letter published in local newspapers on Thursday that he had had a change of heart.
"The reason for me staying in Croatia is that I was really unhappy with my previous decision," Draganja said.
Matesa said the Croatian swimmer now only had to review and sign sponsors' contracts. "Duje is satisfied and I believe that we solved it in the best way for Croatian sport."
Draganja won the 50m freestyle silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and at the world championships in Montreal last year.
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