Exactly 100 days remain until the start of the World Athletics Relays Silesia21, the global meeting for the world's top relay teams. Lunani the giraffe invites you to the event, powered by the athleticism of Piotr Lisek, the meet's ambassador.
A somersault, hand stand, cartwheel and five pushups – that's how Lunani the giraffe, captain of the event’s mascot relay (there are four mascots in all) presented herself. She owes her dexterity to one great athlete. Wearing the mascot costume was Piotr Lisek. For obvious reasons, the pole vaulter will not be competing at the World Athletics Relays Silesia21, but he has been named an ambassador of the event.
- It's about the power of the team, and there's just one single Polish team. It will be the sprinters competing in Chorzów on the first weekend of May, but all of us field eventers will keep our fingers crossed for our colleagues from the Polish national team. It is, after all, their chance of earning Olympic qualification – said Piotr Lisek, the national record holder and World Championships medalist.
More support will come from the other mascots – Maji the cheetah, Sprinter the ostrich and Julian the lemur. All of them are residents of the Silesian Zoo which stands next to Silesian Stadium, the venue for the meeting and can be visited every day. Each of their residences in the zoo are labelled with information on the mascot and the competition. Silesia21 has been supporting all four animals. Maji, Sprinter and Julian, like Lunani, will also be the models for mascot costumes, aimed at entertaining the participants in the competition.
With so much at stake, however, the competition will be more than mere entertainment. Silesia21 is the final chance for Olympic qualification, as well as the the first opportunity to earn tickets to the 2022 World Championships in Eugene. The meeting is thus of great importance to national relay teams around the wolrld, including those from the host nation Poland. The Polish women's and mixed 4x400m squads have already earned their Olympic passports, but both Polish 4x100m teams and the men's 4x400m are still in the fight for qualification.
The site of the competition is the Silesian Stadium, aka the National Athletics Stadium, which celebrates its 65thanniversary this year. Most fans may associate it with spectacular games of the Polish football team or Jerzy Szczakiel's speedway world championship title, but the arena known as the Witches' Cauldron has also hosted multiple athletics events. All the way back in the 1960s, Poland's all-time great Irena Szewińska competed here on what was still a cinder track. Most notably, it was here, at the Poland – Soviet Union dual match in 1967 that she equalled the 200m world record with her 22.7. Today, the Silesian Stadium is Poland's most modern athletics arena and the host of major international events. This year will be a special one – apart from the World Athletics Relays Silesia21, the stadium will play host to the European Team Championships on the last weekend of May (with Poland defending the title won in Bydgoszcz in 2019), as well as two World Athletics Continental Tour meetings: the Memorials of Janusz Kusocinski and Kamila Skolimowska.
The authorities of the Silesian voivodeship stress the fact that hosting these events in Chorzów is a part of the local government's strategy.
- The World Athletics Relays and the other meets taking place in the Silesian Stadium are a great success in both the sports and promotional sense. It confirms the effectiveness of our strategies. The potential of the stadium and of our region has been appreciated. Within 4 months we will be hosting 4 major international events. This allows us to strengthen the Silesia brand and to promote the touristic and cultural values of the region. We have even created the Champions Train, a symbolic bridge between the Silesian Stadium and the population of the region. The train is covered with images of our ambassadors and the logos of events to be held in Silesia - said Jakub Chełstowski, chairman of the Silesian voivodeship assembly.
- The Silesian Stadium aspires to being one of the world's prime athletics arenas. Hosting the World Athletics Relays is the first step towards that goal. I have been a coach for many years and I can assure you the relay races, which will reign in the Stadium on the 1st and 2nd of May, are some of the most exciting events at every athletics meet – Jan Widera, the chairman of the Stadium said.
- The athletes will have an opportunity of qualifying for the major global championship events in our stadium. We aim to create the best possible environment for them to achieve their goals and realise their dreams in the National Athletics Stadium. We are thinking ahead. We realise that the success of this event can lead to more global events being hosted in the region – stated Bartłomiej Kowalski, the European Team Championships director.
The ambassadors of both the World Athletics Relays Silesia21 and the European Team Championships are: the European 400m champion and star of the 4x400m relay Justyna Święty-Ersetic, the fastest Polish woman and European indoor champion Ewa Swoboda, World Championships medalist and national record holder in the pole vault Piotr Lisek and the four-time world champion hammer thrower Paweł Fajdek.
- I opted for Silesia last year. I am proud to be an ambassador of Silesian sport and to represent the AZS AWF Katowice club. We travel all over the world to compete, but there is no place like this one. No other stadium is hosting so many important events in one year. We prove anything is possible, even in these difficult times of the pandemic. I am proud of that. I plan to compete in the European Team Championships, while at the World Athletics Relays I will give all my support to our team. As Piotr said, we are one team and the power of the team is hugely important – said Paweł Fajdek.
Both the athletes and the organisers are hoping to see fans in the stands. Tickets will be prepared for both the World Athletics Relays Silesia21 and the European Team Championships. Both events will naturally be subject to the sanitary regime and other regulations in force at the time.
1-2 May 2021 – World Athletics Relays
30-31 May 2021 - 9th European Team Championships (Super League)
20 June – Janusz Kusocinski Memorial (World Athletics Continental Tour Silver)
5 September – Kamila Skolimowska Memorial (World Athletics Continental Tour Gold)