The Hanžeković Memorial is the oldest sporting event in Croatia; it has been taking place in Zagreb every year since 1951. The Meeting and its 110m hurdles memorial race were named after hurdler Boris Hanžeković, one of Croatia’s best athletes before WWII, who was killed in WWII while trying to escape from the Jasenovac concentration camp.
It originated as an inter-club duel between Mladost and Dinamo and became an international event in 1958. In the following years, numerous good athletes from the Soviet Union, Hungary, Bulgaria, East Germany and Cuba participated in the Meeting, and soon also others from Austria and West Germany. The Meeting was first broadcast live on TV already in 1959.
At the beginning of the 1960s, the Meeting hosted the high jump world record holder Valeriy Brumel, and in 1973, the then little-known Cuban athlete Alberto Juantorena, who would become the 400m and 800m Olympic Champion in Montreal three years later. In Zagreb, Juantorena won his first international race and set a national record over 400m.
The Meeting made the next big step forward in the 1970s, with the Vjesnik newspaper publishing company as General Sponsor, and at the end of the 1980s, in the wake of the 1987 Universiade held in Zagreb, it increasingly started resembling the world’s most famous meetings. After the crisis years during the war in Croatia at the beginning of the 1990s, the Zagreb Meeting, like the world’s strongest meetings, started hiring foreign Meeting Managers, who started bringing the world’s best athletes to Hanžeković Memorial.
At the end of the 1990s, the Meeting rocketed on the IAAF list and received the Grand Prix status in 2000. Today, Boris Hanžeković Memorial is one of the world’s best meetings. In 2010, it became part of the World Challenge series, which is just one level below the Diamond League.
The Meeting’s start lists regularly include around twenty Olympic and world champions, and the results achieved in Zagreb are at the top of the IAAF lists.
It was at the Zagreb Meeting that Blanka Vlašić cleared 2.08m, which was the second best high jump result ever, one of the best athletes of all time Usain Bolt holds the 100m Meeting Record with 9.85, the world’s best discus thrower Sandra Perković threw the discus 70.83 metres, and the 110m Hurdles Memorial Race has featured absolutely all Olympic and world champions and world record holders in the past 30 years.
Since 2014, the shot put event, named the Ivan Ivančić Memorial, has been taking place outside of the stadium, at the Zagreb Fountains. In 2016, the IAAF declared that event the strongest shot put event since 1988, because it was for the first time in 28 years that two shot putters threw over 22.20 m. Those were Olympic Champion Ryan Crouser and Olympic bronze medallist Tom Walsh.