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Polish Olympic Team – London 2012

From 27 July until 12 August 2012 the entire world of sports will be meeting in London – to take part in the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The capital of the United Kingdom – as the first city in history – will host Olympians, this time from over 200 countries, for the third time. Earlier, such events took place in 1908 and, 40 years later, in 1948. London was chosen as the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games at the session of the International Olympic Committee in Singapore in July 2005. It won only in the fourth round of voting, with a slight (54:50) advantage over Paris (earlier rounds saw the elimination of Moscow, New York and Madrid). The preparations were started immediately and… were completed on time. In the city itself and in its suburbs many modern sports facilities were built (including the key facility of any Olympic Games - the Olympic Park); many others underwent a thorough refurbishment. By the beginning of May every sports arena and its personnel had already passed appropriate tests carried out also during other international events. Londoners were able to state proudly: ”We are ready”.

A 200-athlete-strong Polish Olympic Team will participate in the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The team will be smaller by some 50 athletes as compared to the one that represented Polish colours in Beijing. But then – the road to the Olympic Games is more and more difficult. Before obtaining nomination, sportsmen and sportswomen have to undergo a series of highly demanding qualifying rounds - international and, sometimes even more stringent, national ones. Those who have managed – will wear national colours.

To date, around 2,600 Polish contenders have participated in Olympic Games. The Polish national debut was in Paris (1924), and first medals were won there (silver in the track cycling team event and bronze individually in show jumping taken by Adam Królikiewicz). Already four years later, in 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, Halina Konopacka won the first Olympic gold medal for Poland in discus throw. Altogether in Summer and Winter Olympics held between 1924 and 2010, Polish athletes won 275 medals, including 64 gold ones. The most successful Olympics for Poland, from which the Polish Olympic team brought home 26 medals (7 – 6 – 13), were the Olympic Games in Montreal (1976). The Polish national anthem, Dąbrowski’s Mazurka, was also played seven times at the Olympics in Tokyo (1964), Munich (1972) and Atlanta (1996). No doubt Polish athletes will strive to put up a good show in London as well. Every medal count above 10 (the number of medals Poland won in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) will possibly be considered a success, though appetites for medals are probably bigger. Where is Poland going to seek its medal opportunities? It is commonly expected that water sports contenders, i.e. swimmers, sailors, rowers and canoeists, will not return empty-handed. Track and field athletes should not disappoint either, in particular those who count among the world top tier in their respective sports disciplines. Poland has an ever stronger tennis team, as well as strong weight lifting, badminton and table tennis teams. There is also cycling (both track cycling and mountain biking) and fencing. Finally, male volleyball players will be the only ones to uphold the honour of Poland’s team sports in London. In martial sports Poland can count the most on its judo team; on the other hand, there will be fewer wrestlers and in the boxing tournament for the first time Poland will only field sportswomen, who will be debuting in this event in London.

”Go, Poland, you are fighting in front of the home crowd!” – this is a tagline coined by the Polish community inhabiting the British Isles, used for some time now to cheer for the Polish athletes. While watching test events held at the new Olympic venues, our compatriots assured that they will be at the stands during the Games to cheer for the Polish Olympians.

Henryk Urbaś
Polish Olympic Committee