European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen and World Athletics President Sebastian Coe were among the special guests at the centenary anniversary celebrations of the formation of the Polish Athletics Association in Warsaw on Friday (15).
Nearly 450 guests attended the Gala which was held in the capital’s Sofitel Hotel, gathering many well-known faces from culture, business, politics as well as sports including Olympic champions Robert Korzeniowski and Tomasz Majewski and four-time world hammer champion Pawel Fajdek. Polish President Andrzej Duda also attended the Gala.
The Polish Athletics Federation was founded in Krakow on 11 October 1919 and many of the country’s successes in major competitions since then were recorded in a special video which was played at the start of proceedings.
President Hansen congratulated the Polish Athletics Association on this landmark anniversary and paid tribute to the close cooperation between European Athletics and the Polish Athletics Association over the years before reflecting on another richly successful year for athletics in Poland and the European Athletics Team Championships Super League in Bydgoszcz in August.
“Polish athletes have been proving for many years that they are a powerful force in our sport,” said President Hansen. “Recently they have won many medals at the European Championships and they were the best team at the European Athletics Team Championships in Bydgoszcz.
“I have many friends in this country; I used to come here to the Janusz Kusocinski Memorial in the times of Solidarność. There have been so many great moments,” said Hansen, adding that he hopes a new athletics stadium will be built in the capital soon.
The excellent state of athletics in Poland was expanded on by Polish Athletics Association President Henryk Olszewski. “We bring our sport into the second 100 years in excellent condition, with many successes. We are glad that so many important personalities from Europe and the world responded to our invitation,” he said.
The Gala was also the setting for the crowning of the men’s and women’s Polish Athletes of the Year, the 50th time these prizes have been awarded. European indoor 1500m champion and world bronze medallist Marcin Lewandowski was crowned men’s Polish Athlete of the Year, topping the Golden Spike rankings ahead of world hammer champion Pawel Fajdek and world pole vault bronze medallist Piotr Lisek.
On the women’s side, world hammer silver medallist Joanna Fiodorow was crowned women’s Polish Athlete of the Year ahead of European indoor 60m champion Ewa Swoboda and world 400m finalist and world 4x400m silver medallist Justyna Swiety-Ersetic.
The Coach of the Year accolade went to Jolanta Kumor who coached Fajdek to an unprecedented fourth successive title in the hammer at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha.