How Damir Mikec got to know and brought with him to Belgrade from El Salvador and married Melissa Carballo
Source: House of Good News
BELGRADE, SAN SALVADOR – Living proof that love is miraculous and knows no boundaries and continents are Damir Mikec, shooter of the Belgrade club Policajac and Melissa Carballo, a shooter for El Salvador, who last year crowned their five-year long distance relationship with a church wedding in Belgrade and a civil union in San Salvador. They first met quite a while ago, and since 2011 Melissa has been a resident of the Serbian capital.
The wedding was performed last year in the Ružica church in the Kalemegdan fortress in the presence of family members, friends and a large number of shooters, and the witnesses were Uroš Kačavenda, a Serbian small-bore pistol international and Damir’s colleague in the national squad for many years, and Sanja Lakčević, once a pistol shooter for Policajac, whom Mikec had christened.
The civil registrar performed his part of the job on the raft-restaurant Leonardo, and then the merrymaking began. Mikec, an Olympic shooter of the Belgrade club Policajac, first got to know El Salvador international Melissa Ivette Perez Carballo in 2005. After five years of long- distance love, meetings at various competitions and rare moments spent together, Mikec decided, after first talking to Melissa’s mother (and her four sisters) in San Salvador, to bring Melissa to Belgrade, whose resident she became in August 2011! On her birthday, 3 August last year, Damir got a visa for the Olympics in London at the world championship. He enrolled Melissa in Policajac to allow her to shoot at all our competitions and championships, but also tournaments in foreign countries, which is very important...
El Salvador is central America’s smallest state, with just over five million inhabitants, lying between Guatemala and Honduras.
- I was excited and curious when Damir proposed that I come to Serbia, Melissa told the House of Good News. I wasn’t all the same, neither to my mother, not to my sisters. I wasn’t quite sure where I was going, they only told me it was a European country with cold winters, but Damir told me a lot about Serbia and convinced me that I would like it. Now I’m thrilled with Serbia. In particular, I like the people, they are cordial, relaxed, good- homoured, real gentlemen, they are very like my compatriots. In a very short time I got many friends, I am over the moon, and I enjoy every moment of my stay here – Melissa said about her vision of Serbia.
The only problem, she says, have to do her guns. Given that she is not the owner of the guns, she cannot carry them across borders, so that last year in Rio de Janeiro, at the South American championship, the qualifying stage for London, they sent her guns from El Salvador. Unfortunately, she did not qualify, but she was a member of the team of El Salvador, which took two silvers (3x20 small-bore rifle and 60 from a lying position) and a bronze with an air gun!
The system of competitions in Serbia is much more developed, richer and of higher quality than in El Salvador, where we have just five competitions in the entire season, three of them of higher quality, in neighbouring countries. In my country shooting is a sport, but there is no one who is involved in its permanently, everyone works or studies at the same time, and trains when he or she finds time. Also, there are no shooting ranges in other towns – if you want to shoot, you have to be in the capital. There are also few coaches. For the past ten years we had a coach from Nicaragua. Damir helps me a great deal, in particular in tactics and technique, and he is with me at every training session. Seba (Milenko Sebić, Policajac) is also there to adjust my gun.
I am also delighted with the camaraderie among shooters, not just in Serbia. Recently, when we went to Zagreb, I did not know I had to have an entry visa, and, of course, they stopped us at the border, but Damir called friends in Zagreb and they intervened to let us through. I also shot in Belgrade at the International 2010 Championship and we had to ‘rescue’ the organiser and to sew a flag of El Salvador at the Radna žena works. It cost 50 euros, and now I carry it wherever I travel, to make it easier for the host organisers...
Melissa graduated in communications from the University of San Salvador. For almost a year she worked as a host on local TV, she had a talk show at nine p.m. on Saturdays, in prime time. She recorded several commercials, and before leaving for Serbia she worked in a bank!
Serbia has the World’s Best Food
- After the people of Serbia, the next best thing is Serbian food. I tried many dishes in other countries, some I liked, others I didn’t, but Serbia is just fantastic – I like everything and eat everything with great pleasure. I think you have the world’s best food!, Melissa told the House of Good News. Burek, ćevapčići, pljeskavice, beans, both as a broth and prebranac, many interesting cooked dishes, and onions with everything! I adore onions, but I try to eat it only in the evenings, when we’re not going out. I am slowly learning Serbian, but also how to cook from Damir’s father, he’s a master chef. I have an impression that it was your cuisine that helped me get over my departure and separation from my family. I was also pleasantly surprised how safe Serbia is. I know there may be an incident or two, but generally I feel safe, I cycle on Ada Ciganlija and through the city, in the evening we can come back home in the early hours without any worry...In San Salvador there are bodyguards and security everywhere.
The Mikec family travelled to San Salvador in September last year to attend a civil wedding in the presence of Melissa’s family. Then they participated at the Central American championships and won. Damir won the air pistol with 684.2 points (basic result 582) convincingly, he then won the small-bore pistol event, while Melissa won the air rifle with 594 points.
Melissa, as a member of her country’s team, and Damir, as a guest of the Olympic Committee of El Salvador, attended preparations for the Pan-American Games to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico. Damir could not compete, although he had competed in the Central American championships, while Melissa regrettably failed to fulfil her dream and qualify for the London Olympics. She was seventh in the final of the air rifle event.
- I owe a debt of gratitude to the Serbian Olympic Committee which paid for my air fare and the Salvadorean Olympic Committee which was my host at the events and provided excellent conditions for preparing for the Olympics, Damir said.
- I used my time in El Salvador to the utmost, now I am awaiting obligations in domestic championships and the Bundesliga where I will shoot for a club from Mund with Andrija Zlatić and Jasna Šekarić.
They could not enjoy a honeymoon after the wedding because Damir last year had obligations at the Universiade in Shenzhen, China. He had prepared well, and won a silver in the small-bore rifle event. In the air pistol even he was fifth. In his career he has a seventh place at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. He won a gold at the World Cup in 2010 in Fort Benning (air pistol) and two silvers (2010, Beijing, air pistol, and Munich, 2009, small-bore pistol). He was European vice-champion in Munich in 2004 with a small-bore pistol. He participated in a team that won a silver at the world championships in Munich in 2010, the team that took a silver in 2009 in Prague (air pistol), and two teams which won bronzes (2005, Belgrade, small-bore pistol and 2011 Brescia, air pistol). This year he won the title at the Serbian championships with a small-bore gun and in the air pistol event. He won the Serbian Cup in the small-bore pistol, and took second place in the air pistol. He holds the national record with 574 points in the small-bore pistol event in the basic part, and 672.5 points with the final.
Melissa Carballo (Ivette is he Christened name, Peres her father’s surname and Carballo her mother’s), was born in 1987. She began training shooting in 2003. Her best results were in the air rifle and her personal record is 396 points. With the small-bore rifle she prefers 60 bullet prone style and her record is 595 points. She is also proficient in the 3x20 bullet event, where her best score is 582 points. She waited two years to be transferred from air guns to the small-bore rifles events. First she had to prove herself...
From 2005 she was constantly El Salvadorean champion with the air rifle. Her greatest success is a silver with an air rifle at the Central American and Caribbean championship in 2005, when she was also a member of the team that took a silver in the 3x20 small-bore rifle event. At the Central American and Caribbean championship in 2010 she took a bronze with an air rifle, a team gold in the same event and silver in the 3x20 event. From the international championship in Cuba, a very respected event in the region, she has a silver with the air rifle in 2005 and from the Alba Games the same year a gold in the team air rifle event.
In 2010, when he decided to bring Melissa to Serbia, Damir won a gold and a silver with an air pistol at world cups in Fort Benning and Beijing, placed fifth in the same event at the world cup in Belgrade, was eighth in the final of the World Championship in Munich, when he qualified for the Olympics in London. He won the Serbian Cup in the air pistol event, took silver in the small-bore pistol event, and has two bronzes – from the Serbian championships in the air pistol event and finals of the Serbian Cup in the small-bore pistol event. On completing the season he held fifth place on the world list in the air pistil event...
Let someone say after all of this that that love does not do miracles...