Joanna Jóźwik and Patryk Dobek came out on top of the world in the 2x2x400 metre relay! The Polish team's victory came with a bonus: their time of 3:40.92 is a new European record for the distance. Their victory was the second Polish win in the history of the World Athletics Relays – two years ago, the women's 4x400 metre team, known as Matusiński's Angels, were the winners in Yokohama. The Polish shuttle hurdles relay team finished in runner-up position.
In the first part of the 2x2x400 metres race, the Polish team was fighting it out with the Kenyans. The key to the race was Joanna Jóźwik's second leg, on which the Polish runner turned on the pace and ran away from her African rival. The Polish team never relinquished the lead. An experienced 400 metre runner, who took the European indoor gold at twice the distance this year, Patryk Dobek not only resisted the attack of his rivals, but extended the lead. The team reached the finish line in a record time of 3:40.92, ahead of Kenya and Slovenia.
Joanna Jóźwik admitted the 2x2x400 metre relay requires a different way of running to what she is used to.
– In this kind of a relay race you just have to stick with the rivals and control the pace. Towards the end I felt it was too slow, so I just speeded up – Jóźwik said in post-race analysis.
Patryk Dobek's opinion coincided with his teammate's. He also stated the key was controlling the pace.
– I didn't want to get too fired up on my first lap. I knew the Kenyan was a top-class runner, so I just held his pace. It's cold here, but I came back from a training camp in Zakopane, so I'm used to running in these temperatures now. Our physios prepare us for these conditions. I competed in this event in Yokohama two years ago and the experience helped me in the Silesian Stadium.
Poland's second medal came in the shuttle hurdles race. Zuzanna Hulisz got the team off to a good start, followed by a strong leg by Krzysztof Kiljan. On the third leg Klaudia Wojtunik lost little ground to the German team. With Damian Czykier on the anchor leg, the Poles reached the finish in 56.68.
– I fought on until the finish line. I felt the German was still within reach, but my race was not very clean – said Czykier, who then went on to say he would be happy to see the hurdle relay on the Olympic program.
The first Polish team competing in the Silesian Stadium were Matusiński's Angels, with a refreshed lineup. In addition to the experienced Małgorzata Hołub-Kowalik and Natalia Kaczmarek, coach Matusiński decided on the youngsters Kornelia Lesiewicz and Kinga Gacka. The team did not disappoint. The Poles won their heat and earned a place in the World Championships in Eugene.
The youngest member of the team, Kornelia Lesiewicz, ran the opening leg for the team.
– I liked the race. There were no other girls ahead of me until the end, so I ran alone all the way. It was a strange feeling. I'm happy we accomplished the task. It was a simple one – making the final – Lesiewicz commented.
Also happy with the race was Małgorzata Hołub-Kowalik, who offered praise for her younger colleagues.
– I am happy with how the girls presented themselves. They ran great races, doing everything according to the tactical plan. We wanted to hand over the baton while staying in the front, avoiding the pushing and shoving. That's what we did, so we will fight on come tomorrow – said Hołub-Kowalik, a member of the Orlen Sports Group, sponsor of the World Athletics Relays in Silesia.
The Poles' time of 3:28.11 was the second fastest in the heats. Only the Cuban achieved a faster performance today.
The Polish women's 4x100 metre team were able to celebrate after making the final and earning a ticket to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Paulina Guzowska, Klaudia Adamek, Katarzyna Sokólska and Pia Skrzyszowska finished in a time of 43.64, taking second place in their heat.
– We did what we set out to do. We worked hard and we knew what we came here for. With the other girls here, it felt like being a part of the family – said Katarzyna Sokólska after the race.
Pia Skrzyszowska was also satisfied with her debut on the senior national relay team.
– It was my first race of this kind, so I was a bit stressed, but all that matters now is that we finished in second place – the young runner from Warsaw said.
The Polish 4x400 metre team failed to reach the final. The squad composed of Kajetan Duszyński, Dariusz Kowaluk, Wiktor Suwara and Karol Zalewski finished third in their heat. Their time was 3:05.04, which they said was a fair reflection of their ability.
– It was a decent race, given our current form, we were just out of luck. We gave it our all – were the words of Dariusz Kowaluk after the race.
Although the Polish team did not earn a spot in the Olympic Games, they secured a place in next year's World Championships in Eugene.
The Polish mixed 4x400 metre relay did not make the final, either. The lineup of Mateusz Rzeźniczak, Aleksandra Gaworska, Karolina Łozowska and Patryk Grzegorzewicz placed fourth in their heat with 3:17.92. Finishing in tenth place overall, however, gave Poland the right to compete in the World Championships scheduled for July 2022.
The conclusion of the meet in the National Athletics Stadium is scheduled for tomorrow. The first final of the day – 4x400 metres mixed relay – is due at 7:20 PM.