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Eleven outstanding moments in Polish indoor athletics history

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  • Eleven outstanding moments in Polish indoor athletics history

With less than 100 days until the Torun 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships, we take a look back at eleven incredible moments in Polish indoor athletics history, including world records, gold medals and other record-breaking achievements over the last 45 years.

Rabsztyn provides one-half of a double in Katowice

Poland has only staged the European Athletics Indoor Championships once before, all the way back in 1975 when Katowice staged what was then an annual championships on a 160-metre track. From a Polish standpoint, the event was highlighted by a 60m hurdles double courtesy of Leszek Wodzyński and GraŌyna Rabsztyn.

Rabsztyn amassed a haul of six European indoor medals, including three gold medals, and she still holds the Polish record in the 100m hurdles with 12.36 - a world record at the time.

Bielczyk blitzes to a 7.77 world indoor 60m hurdles record

The success of the Polish sprint hurdlers continued into the early 1980s with Zofia Bielczyk defeating Rabsztyn for the 1980 European indoor 60m hurdles title in Sindelfingen in a world record - or a world best as indoor marks were classed as back then - of 7.77. This time still ranks inside the European all-time top-10 and stood as a world record for three years.

Woronin makes it five European indoor titles in 1987

After winning four successive European indoor titles between 1979 and 1982, Marian Woronin had a five year wait before returning to the top of the podium in the 60m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Lievin in 1987.

Woronin might have been 30 and had more than a decade of top-level racing under his belt but he stormed to gold in what was then a European record of 6.51 - a mark which remains on the books as a Polish record today.

Chmara wins heptathlon by a whisker in Maebashi

Not until the 1999 World Indoor Championships in Maebashi, Japan did the Polish national anthem play out when Sebastian Chmara pipped the soon-to-be Olympic decathlon champion Erki Nool from Estonia by 12 points in the heptathlon. Chmara had won the European indoor title in Valencia one year prior in 6415 points.

Chojecka does the double in Birmingham

Lidia Chojecka made history at the 2007 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Birmingham by becoming the first athlete in championship history to sweep the 1500m and 3000m titles in the same edition. Utilising her devastating sprint finish, Chojecka won the 1500m in 4:05.13 before returning the following day to win the 3000m in 8:43.25.

Licwinko ties with Lasitskene for world indoor gold in Sopot

Kamila Licwinko became the first Polish woman to win a world indoor title on home soil in the high jump in Sopot 2014 in dramatic circumstances. Licwinko won a shared title with Mariya Lasitskene - then competing under her maiden name of Kuchina - after amassing identical cards up to 2.00m before opting to settle for a joint gold medal rather than a jump-off.

Swoboda clocks 7.07 for 60m in Torun aged 18

Ewa Swoboda won the European U20 100m title in 2015 but she came to wider note the following indoor season. Still only 18, Swoboda amassed an unbeaten run of 12 races including victory in the Copernicus Cup inside the Arena Torun - the host venue for the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships - in a world indoor U20 record of 7.07. This time remains her lifetime best.

Bukowiecki wins one of seven gold medals for Poland in Belgrade

The precocious Konrad Bukowiecki won one of Poland’s seven gold medals at the 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships to help them to the top of the medal table in Belgrade. Bukowiecki became the youngest ever winner of the shot put title in championship history, winning gold at 19 years and 352 days with a European U23 record of 21.97m

Kszczot lands long-awaited global title in Birmingham

Arguably the greatest indoor 800m runner of the last decade, Adam Kszczot finally landed his elusive global indoor title at the 2018 World Indoor Championships in Birmingham with a typically tactically astute showing. Between 2013 and 2018, Kszczot amassed an incredible record of 26 wins from his 32 indoor races.

Poland stuns the United States in the 4x400m relay in 2018

The men’s 4x400m relay has often been a procession for US quartets but the Polish team which was anchored by Jakub Krzewina had different ideas at the 2018 World Indoor Championships. Not only did they overhaul the pre-race favourites on the last leg, the Polish team also eclipsed the world indoor record with 3:01.77.

'It is a big shock and surprise for us. We were targeting the European record but really did not expect a result like this and never dreamed about the world record,” said Rafal Omelko, who ran the second leg of Poland’s world record-breaking team.

Lewandowski gets his revenge on Ingebrigtsen in Glasgow

In a rematch of the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin, Marcin Lewandowski outfoxed Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the 1500m final at the 2019 European Indoor Athletics Championships to reverse the outcome of the previous summer and assist Poland to the top of the medal table for the second edition running.

That victory marked Lewandowski’s third successive European indoor title and one of the event ambassadors for Torun 2021 is very much targeting a fourth successive gold medal next March.

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