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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Tokyo 2020: Polish athletes aim for Olympic glory

23.07.2021 15:30
As the more than 210-strong Polish team begins to compete in the Summer Olympics, many are wondering how many medals the country's athletes will bring home from Tokyo.
Audio
The Olympic cauldron is lit up during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, on July 23, 2021.
The Olympic cauldron is lit up during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, on July 23, 2021.Photo: EPA/LAURENT GILLIERON

At the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016, Poland won 11 medals, two gold, three silver and six bronze, the national team's best haul this century.

At the London Olympics in 2012, Team Poland scooped 10 medals, three gold, two silver and five bronze.

Any higher figure this summer would be a reason for national pride, experts say, though some insist Poland has a good chance of winning more medals in Tokyo than at any of the previous Games.

Volleyball, tennis, track-and-field

One of Poland’s biggest medal hopes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is the men’s volleyball team, with its recent record of success in the sport, including two world champions titles.

Meanwhile, the Polish tennis contingent for Tokyo also looks promising. It is led by Iga Świątek, who is currently ranked world No. 8 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).

Other Polish tennis players hoping to make their mark in Tokyo include Hubert Hurkacz, Łukasz Kubot, Magda Linette and Alicja Rosolska.

Polish athletes take part in the Parade of Nations during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday, July 23, 2021. Polish athletes take part in the Parade of Nations during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday, July 23, 2021. Photo: EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO

Among track-and-fielders, Poland has two medal hopes in the men's hammer throw. One is Paweł Fajdek, the four-time world champion who leads the international standings this season with a best effort of 82.82m.

The other Polish medal prospect in the event is Wojciech Nowicki, who won bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympics and is hoping for a similar or better showing in Tokyo.

In the women’s hammer throw, all eyes are on Poland’s Anita Włodarczyk, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, who holds the impressive world record of 82.98m but is returning to action after missing most of the season due to injury.

Fans are also keeping their fingers crossed for shot putters Michał Haratyk and Konrad Bukowiecki.

Haratyk is the 2019 European champion, while Bukowiecki won gold at the 2019 Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy.

Another strong Polish candidate for a medal in Tokyo is Maria Andrejczyk, who produced the world's third-best all-time women's javelin throw of 71.40m in May.

In the men's javelin, Marcin Krukowski, who recently set a national record of 89.55m, the second best result in the world this year, also stands a good chance of a medal in Tokyo, according to experts.

Poland's track-and-field medal prospects in Tokyo also include the women's 4x400m relay team, long the pride of Polish athletics and the current world runners-up and European champions.

Polish athletes take part in the Parade of Nations during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday, July 23, 2021.Flag bearers Maja Włoszczowska and Paweł Korzeniowski lead the Polish delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Friday. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

Other Polish track-and-field athletes to watch at this year’s Summer Olympics include runner Marcin Lewandowski, who is gearing up to compete in the men's 1500m, and Patryk Dobek, who strengthened his credentials as an emerging 800m runner with a victory at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in March.

Pole vaulter Piotr Lisek, a bronze medallist at the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships, has also been listed among Team Poland's medal prospects for Tokyo.

Water sports, cycling, 3x3 basketball

In water sports, Polish medal hopes include sprint canoeist Marta Walczykiewicz, who took the silver in the K1 200m event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and Klaudia Zwolińska, who claimed gold at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup in Prague in June.

Other Polish athletes eyeing medals in Tokyo include mountain biker Maja Włoszczowska, who won silver at the Beijing Games in 2008 and added another in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Poland is also pinning hopes on its solid team of track cyclists, led by Szymon Sajnok and Mateusz Rudyk, and road racers Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Michał Kwiatkowski and Rafał Majka.

Also worth watching is the Polish men's 3x3 basketball team, which qualified for the Olympics in May.

The country is also counting on strong performances from its fencers, rowers, shooters, swimmers, sailors, weightlifters, and judo and taekwondo competitors.

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, July 23, 2021. Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, July 23, 2021. Photo: EPA/YONHAP

Poland's Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Games, Marcin Nowak, has said the country has a chance of winning around 15 medals at this year's Olympics.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics opened on Friday after being postponed from last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Games run in the Japanese capital until August 8.

(mrs/gs)

Source: PAP, sport.onet.pl, rmf24.pl, olimpijski.pl

Click on the "Play" button above to listen to an audio report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek.