By Sarah Young
LONDON (Reuters) - Montenegro Prime Minister Igor Luksic is hoping his support at the water polo arena will help the tiny Adriatic country win their first Olympic medal in London to cap a historic year for the ex-Yugoslav republic.
"We hope to win some medals, it would be the first ever ... which would be really great and would make this year altogether a success, after the opening of the accession talks with the EU," Luksic said in an interview with Reuters in the stands of the water polo tournament.
Clad in the national team's red sports top with a gold trim, Luksic was speaking at half time during Montenegro's group stage clash with Serbia on Thursday, which ended in an 11-11 draw after his compatriots came from behind to score two in the last minutes of the game.
Luksic said he attended the opening ceremony on Friday in an official capacity but decided to stay on in London as part of his vacation and was watching Montenegro play water polo for the third time.
"This is basically my holiday, so I'm spending it cheering for the national team," he said, above the cheers of an excited crowd.
"It's our second ever performance in the Olympics after we gained independence back in 2006, so it's really a great pleasure to give them a boost."
Among the countries carved from old federal Yugoslavia, Montenegro, a country of 680,000 people, became independent in 2006 when it split from a state union with Serbia, and started accession talks with the European Union at the end of June.
The country's water polo team came closest to winning a Olympic medal at the Games in Beijing, taking fourth place and are a firm favorite for a podium finish this year.
Montenegro's other main medal hope is in the women's handball competition and Luksic said he had also been attending their matches.
He only has a few days of holiday remaining before returning to Montenegro, however. What if there's a medal ceremony on the cards?
"Then we'll see. If they really make it to the finals, then I'll try to come back," he said, smiling, before the tussle with Serbia resumed.
(Reporting by Sarah Young. Editing by Patrick Johnston)