A Manhattan Beach decathlete has big aspirations for the 2020 Olympic Games

Keep an eye on Daniel Golubovic as he chases gold in Tokyo.

WRITTEN BY AMBER KLINCK | PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEFF BERTING


To say the drive to compete athletically is in his blood may be a bit of an understatement when it comes to Olympic hopeful Daniel Golubovic. His mother played volleyball at UCLA; his father grew up playing sports in Australia; his grandfather on his father’s side played professional soccer for Yugoslavia; and his grandfather on his mother’s side played football at Stanford.

“I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember,” he says. With so many athletic influences, Dan played a number of sports as a child—sometimes more than one at a time. But today his goals have gotten pretty specific. “I’ve wanted to be an Olympian for a long time. I have my sights set on Tokyo in 2020; that’s where I want to be.”

As a Manhattan Beach local who went on to study at the University of California San Diego, Dan is well-versed in the SoCal lifestyle. Which is why his time recently spent at Duke University in North Carolina left such an impact.

“It was amazing,” he says. “It was a completely different experience.”

After completing the one-year Masters of Management Studies program in May from the Fuqua School of Business, Dan describes his move to North Carolina as positive for more reasons than one. “It was a very welcomed and very needed change,” he says. “I love it out here.”

As a Division I school, Duke offered Dan an amplified track-and-field training experience. “You need to perform. Everyone is focused; everyone is there to progress,” says Dan, who welcomed the added motivation. “I like to test myself and see how good I can be. I want to compete with the best to the best of my ability, and ideally I’d like to be the best.”

“Track is a very individual event; you are the one that needs to make your own performance. I’m training for marks and to improve myself every year.”

The hyper-focused training environment at Duke catered to that mindset. With Olympic decathlon goals on the horizon, the desire to compete with the best is the right mindset to have—along with an incredible amount of self-discipline. “Training season is all year long,” Dan explains. “We have an indoor season of competition and an outdoor season of competition.”

And then, of course, there’s the athlete’s competition with himself. “Track is a very individual event; you are the one that needs to make your own performance. I’m training for marks and to improve myself every year,” Dan says.

Still, while the internal pressure to outperform his own top marks never goes away, Dan is working on “getting out of my own head and getting into competition mode. This year I put a lot of trust in my coach. You just have to trust the training, trust the system, trust the work and be honest about how much you’re putting in.”

With an event as unique as the decathlon, being systematic about your training is a must. “It’s 10 events plus standard training, which includes conditioning, sprint endurance, weights and all kinds of different aspects of athleticism,” Dan says. But with a great coaching staff at his back, he is ready and focused on the challenge.

For now, Dan is staying in North Carolina—open to what the future may bring. California, and specifically Manhattan Beach, will always be home. Every trip Dan makes back to see friends and family is cherished. But as for where he’ll be in the next few years, his only real commitment is to Tokyo.

 

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