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Polish Olympic National Team Sochi 2014
Polish national team has participated in all the Winter Olympics to date. Poland made its Winter Olympics debut in Chamonix in 1924 but its modest-sized, seven-men team was not successful. In fact, it came close to failing to participate. Sportsmen arrived in the town late, missing the inauguration of the Games, so out of necessity during the opening ceremony Poland’s national flag was carried by one of Polish journalists. In the inter-war period the red-and-whites did not achieve major successes at the Olympic arenas, even though their ranks included such outstanding sportsmen as Stanisław Marusarz or Bronisław Czech. Poland had to wait for its first medals till 1956, when in Cortina d’Ampezzo Franciszek Gąsienica Groń claimed bronze in Nordic combined. At the following Olympics in Squaw Valley (1960), the national team won two medals, brought home by women speed skaters: the silver won by Elwira Seroczyńska and the bronze by Helena Pilejczyk. Then there was a twelve-year-long pause, although both in Innsbruck (1964), and Grenoble (1968) we had fairly good cross country skiers, ski jumpers, alpine skiers, hockey players, skaters, lugers and biathletes. Then finally came the 1972 and the Olympic Games in Sapporo. Wojciech Fortuna, who was included in the national team at the last moment, won the first historic gold medal for Poland following his record-long 111 m jump. Unfortunately, we had to wait for the next Olympic trophy another 30 years, till the moment when in Salt Lake City Adam Małysz jumped to a bronze on a smaller hill and to a silver on a large hill, all within three days. Then it all went from good to better. In Turin in 2006, a biathlete Tomasz Sikora obtained silver and a cross country skier Justyna Kowalczyk won bronze. Even more successful, downright outstanding, for Poland’s team were the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010. The red-andwhites brought as many as six (!) medals from Canada. Justyna Kowalczyk alone won a medal of each colour. Adam Małysz became a silver medallist twice, and Poland’s medal tally was completed by the bronze medal gained by women skaters in team competition. It will be very difficult to repeat the success attained in Vancouver during the upcoming XXII Winter Olympics to be held in Russian Sochi on 7–23 February 2014. But the results of the previous season allow moderate optimism. Go Poland, go!