Polish RIO Olympic Preview
Brazil To Start The Big Dance
By Raymond Rolak
The 2016 Rio Olympics will have more than 200 Polish athletes competing across 22 sporting disciplines, including track and field, boxing, cycling, sailing, fencing and weightlifting. It will be Poland’s 21st appearance at the Summer Games.
The overall Polish medal total includes, 132 bronze medals, followed by 89 silver medals and 70 gold medals. The majority of the medals were earned at the summer games with only 20 medals being won in the winter games.
Polish track and field teams have proven to be the strongest, having won a total of 23 gold medals. The boxing team of Poland has earned a total of 8 gold medals in the Olympics. Wrestling, weightlifting and fencing teams are also major contributors to the tally of medals.
Agnieszka Radwanska, a prolific tennis player, Tomas Majewski, a world-class shot put thrower who won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games, and Maja Wloszczowska, known to be the best female cyclist in Poland are some contenders for medals.
Anita Włodarczyk, the world-record holder and silver medalist in the hammer throw at the Olympic Games in London, is the top contender for the gold medal. Paweł Fajdek, the youngest ever world champion medalist in the hammer throw, Piotr Małachowski in the discus throw are strong contenders.
The Polish men’s volleyball players are considered certain to win a medal. As the current world champions, Poland is one of the top contenders for gold, along with Brazil, Italy, Russia and the USA. Out of twelve teams that are to participate in the medal round, Poland is a heavy favorite.
Also contending for an Olympic medal is swimmer Konrad Czerniak. He is a crawl specialist and butterfly sprinter. Much is expected from veterans Radosław Kawęcki and Jan Świtkowski.
Kawęcki is the Polish favorite for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
In cycling, Michal Kwiatkowski, the 2014 World Champion, and Rafal Majka, who came in third in last year’s Vuelta a Espana will compete for the podium. Both cyclists are placed high in the world rankings. Mountain Biking has only been an Olympic sports discipline for a short time and first appeared at the Atlanta games in 1996. The sport gained a foothold in Poland just as quickly and much success in the discipline followed. Anna Szafraniec, Aleksandra Dawidowicz and former champion Maja Włoszczowska all are medal hopefulls.
The first time Poland participated in the Olympic Games was in Paris in 1924. It managed to win two medals. Of these two medals, one was silver earned by cycling team while the other was for equestrian. The country got its first ever gold medals four years later in the Amsterdam Olympic Games.
A legacy of the 2016 games in Brazil will be the concept of Nomadic Architecture. Some buildings will be taken apart after the games and used as different structures. “Here we introduced a new concept for the Olympics, which is nomadic architecture,” said Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro. In general, these temporary arenas are destroyed after the Games, but we have already done the project and all the steel material and concrete will serve to build four public schools. This was an intelligent way to use that space so that it does not become a white elephant afterwards.”
Michal Smolen, 22, living in Gastonia, North Carolina, is considered a potential medalist in singles slalom kayaking. He is a transplanted Polish athlete competing for the USA.
There is still controversy about the quality for the water venues. Polish windsurfer Malgorzata Bialecka said she took a spill into the bay the other day and said, “The water doesn’t smell good. I had to swim in this water and it wasn’t nice,” she said. “And I was a little bit afraid after that.”
Rio’s pollution has been in the spotlight since an independent report published July 30, by the Associated Press showed dangerously high levels of viruses from human sewage at all Rio Olympic water venues.
With Vladimir Putin and Russian prestige on the line, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee caved in. Instead of banning Russia from Rio for running a state-sanctioned doping operation, the IOC members decided instead last week to allow individual sports federations to decide which Russians can compete. Some of Russia’s best won’t be participating in Rio.