The clock counting down the time remaining until the World Athletics Relays Silesia21 is now displaying 1 month! On the 1st and 2nd of May, the Silesian Stadium will be the host to over 1000 athletes, with more than 150 relay team due to compete!
The Silesian voivodeship was chosen as the host of the event in August 2019. Intense preparations have been under way since then and are now entering the final stage. In the words of the voivodeship assembly chairman Jakub Chełstowski, the final weeks before the event are an intense time.
- It seems like we only became the host recently, and yet over 1.5 years have passed. Now, just as runners on a relay team, we are on the final leg, entering the finishing straight. The preparations are in full swing and a few more weeks of hard work are ahead of us. The teams – and I have to stress we will be hosting the representatives of many nation – will arrive in late April. I know the athletes are hungry for competition. I am happy to see them show so much interest in our event. I am convinced we will be 100% ready when the first teams arrive, but until that time, all of us will have to put in a lot of work – said the voivodeship assembly chairman Jakub Chełstowski.
The ambassador of the region and star of the Polish national relay team Justyna Święty-Ersetic is one athlete who cannot wait to compete in the World Athletics Relays Silesia21. The European champion is now looking ahead to the final preparations for the event in Silesia.
- April will be a very intense month for me. Soon, I will be leaving for a training camp in Spain. We are going to Tenerifa for three weeks. Together with the other girls, under Aleksander Matusiński's care, we will be training hard. All that work is aimed at showing our best on the 1st and 2nd of May in the Silesian Stadium. The event is our priority for the first part of the season. We want to show our strength at the World Athletics Relays Silesia21. A good result in May will be a positive motivator for the rest of the entire Olympic season – Justyna Święty-Ersetic said.
The competition in Silesia will be a special one for the Polish relay. Two years ago in Yokohama, the white-red team achieved a historic success with a victory in the World Athletics Relays.
- I cannot believe it has been two years since the meet in Japan. I can remember the race perfectly. Going into the final straight, I moved past the Jamaican and then did not let the American overtake me with her charge. There were terrific emotions and it would be great to relive them in Poland in May. I can openly say this gives me extra motivation– Święty Ersetic stated.
The World Athletics Relays Silesia21 also offers a chance for teams which have not yet earned Olympic qualification to book their tickets to Tokyo. In this context, the competition will be a crucial one for the Polish men's 4x400 metre team.
- The meet in the Silesian Stadium will be our number one goal. A fight for the Olympics, especially in our home stadium, gives extra motivation – said Jakub Krzewina, indoor world record holder in the 4x400 metres.
The event in Silesia has been promoted all over the world. The list of the ambassadors of the meet includes both Polish and foreign athletes. More names have now been added: European indoor champion at 800 metres Patryk Dobek, 4x100 metre relay Olympic champion from Athens (2004) Jason Gardener and Polish middle-distance star Joanna Jóźwik, a member of the Silesian club AZS AWF Katowice.
- I am excited about this, for three reasons. Firstly, Silesia is a place I associate with positive things. It is here that the injury which I had for over two years was treated successfully. It is also here that my club is located. To be an ambassador of a major event in such a location is a great honour that makes me proud. Secondly, the competition in the Silesian Stadium will be my first in the Olympic season. The 2x2x400 metre relay requires me to run 800 metres in two 400 metre stages with only a short break in between. It will be a great test of my early-season form . The final reason is Patryk Dobek. I am excited that the revelation of the indoor season will be my partner in this race. We will form an explosive mix. I hope we will also be in the mix for a medal! – said Joanna Jóźwik.
Things are happening in the stadium itself as well. The venue, known as the National Athletics Stadium since last year, is now being adapted to the requirements of World Athletics for the World Athletics Relays.
- Preparatory work has been going on for many weeks now. We are preparing workplaces for the media and refreshing the spaces which will be used by participants. Many installations will be made immediately before the event. The work is going ahead full steam. We are working on the stadium, the athletes are working on their form. All of it is aimed at being fully ready on 1 May – says the Silesian Stadium chairman Jan Widera.
One question the organisers give a lot of attention to is the health of all participants. The challenge is a major one, with athletes from all over the world coming to Silesia. A great deal of stress will be put on pandemic safety measures. All accredited persons will have to undergo COVID-19 tests. Medical safety protocols have been prepared for all groups of participants in cooperation with World Athletics.
The participants in the World Athletics Relays will also be supported by a special team of animals, known to the locals who visit the Silesian Zoo. The mascot relay supporting the athletes on the 1st and 2nd of May 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 all four animals.
The World Athletics Relay Silesia21 are coming up on 1-2 May in the Silesian Stadium.
World Athletics Relays is a global relay event organised under the patronage of World Athletics (formerly IAAF) since 2014. The first three editions took place in the Bahamas, while Japan hosted the meet in 2019. In 2021, the event will take place in Europe for the first time, being hosted by the Silesian Stadium in Chorzów. The top teams will qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and the 2022 World Championships in the United States.