Over 1000 athletes, 45 nations, 150 relay teams – an athletics extravaganza awaits in May in Silesia. The World Athletics Relays Silesia21 start in just 50 days!
Athletics is back – Dobromir Karamarinov, the president of European Athletics, said several days ago. The words were spoken at the opening of the European Indoor Championships, taking place in Toruń last week. Poland took 10 medals there, and many of the main protagonists will be back in action in the Silesian Stadium in exactly 50 days. On the 1st and 2nd of May another major athletics event is due in the National Athletics Stadium. The World Athletics Relays will feature over 150 teams from 45 countries, with over 1000 athletes coming to Silesia. In the words of the Silesian voivodeship assembly chairman Jakub Chełstowski, May will be the months of athletics in Silesia.
– Fifty days from now we will meet at the World Athletics Relays. It is a major event, the first global athletics meet since the start of the pandemic. It is an honour for our region to host an event of such prestige and international significance. Naturally, many challenges are also involved. Today, with 1.5 months remaining, we are working hard on the preparations. We are currently hosting a delegation from World Athletics. In May we will prove Silesia is capable of putting together great sporting events, even in these difficult times. Keep in mind that the Silesian Stadium will be hosting top athletes twice in May. Four weeks after the World Athletics Relays, the European Team Championships will be taking place here – said chairman Jakub Chełstowski.
Competing in the World Athletics Relays on 1-2 May will be the Polish stars, who won 6 medals on the track in the European Indoor Championships several days ago. One of these medals went to Justyna Święty-Ersetic, a Silesian Sports Ambassador, who took silver in the 400 metres and broke her own national record in the semifinals.
– I had been saying the national record was within reach and that proved right. Things went very well and I felt great. I know I'm now facing another crucial stage in my Olympic preparations. I am going back to training and in 50 days I will face the opposition in my favourite stadium, on my track. I live nearly next door from here. I love running in the Silesian Stadium. I have nothing but good memories from here and I'm looking forward to making history here once again. On 1-2 May together with the other girls from the team we will be aiming for another great race. We will be fighting to defend our title from Yokohama 2019 and to beat the American team again – that's Święty-Ersetic's promise.
At least week's European Indoor Championships the Poles were hugely successful in the 800 metre races. The distance brought Poland a total of 4 medals. Joanna Jóżwik finished in runner-up position and Patryk Dobek sensationally defeated his more experienced rivals to take gold. Jóźwik's experience and the newcomer quality of Dobek (the Toruń final was just his 8th race over 800!), a former 400 metre hurdles specialist, is bound to electrify the audience during the 2x2x400 metre race. In this rarely run event each of the two athletes runs 400 metres twice.
– Toruń is now history, I'm now focusing on new goals. One of them is competing at the World Athletics Relays in Silesia. Me and Patryk Dobek on one relay? That spells a huge challenge, an adventure and a sense of excitement. I have tons of experience in the 800, while he represented Poland in another event for years and now became the European champion at my distance. It will be like fire and ice, a combination of experience with a touch of madness. The fans will not be disappointed – says Joanna Jóźwik.
The World Athletics Relays also serves as qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. As such, it is an important competition for the Polish men's 4x400 metre team.
– We were excluded from Toruń by the pandemic. Now it is time for speedy recovery, regeneration and intense training. After what happened to us at the European Indoor Championships, we will come back stronger. We are not giving up. The competition in the Silesian Stadium will be our number one goal now. A fight for Olympic qualification, in our stadium, that gives you extra motivation. We still hope there will be support from fans in the stands, that would be priceless – says Jakub Krzewina, indoor world record holder in the 4x400 metre relay.
The participants in the World Athletics Relays will be supported by another special team. Four animals, which can be visited by the Silesian locals in the Silesian Zoo, are the mascots of the event. The animal relay is composed of Maji the cheetah, Sprinter the ostrich, Julian the lemur and Lunani the giraffe. The World Athletics Relays Silesia21 team has been taking care of the four friendly creatures, representing various qualities needed to succeed in relay races.
The World Athletics Relay Silesia21 are coming up on 1-2 May in the Silesian Stadium.