On stadiums, courts, tracks and trails. On TV screens or live. Poles are watching achievements of their favourite sportsmen and sportswomen with bated breath. They admire their efforts during training, the will to fight during tournaments and strong character. It doesn’t matter if it’s Wimbledon, Champions League or Tour de Ski. For all those who are not familiar with the world of Polish sport, we have prepared a list of players who make their hearts beat faster. Let’s get started!
Born in 1989 in Krakow, the tennis player is the highest-ranked Polish woman in the WTA ranking. Agnieszka’s first contact with the rocket took place in Gronau, Germany. The six-year-old tennis player won her first children’s tournament. Since then, she has been the winner of twenty WTA tournaments in single and two double play. She triumphed in two junior Grand Slam tournaments: Wimbledon 2005 and French Open 2006 in a single game. She represented Poland in the Federation Cup and at the Olympic Games in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro. In 2015 she won the Hopman’s Cup. Radwańska is the first Polish tennis player to earn over a million dollars on the court in one year. In turn, throughout her career, she has made 27 million dollars, which places her on the 7th place in the classification of all time.
Kowalczyk is an Olympic multi-medalist and multimedia world championship winner, winning the World Cup in cross-country skiing four times. Every winter she attracts thousands of viewers in front of TV screens. One of the two cross-country skiers in the history of this sport, who won the World Cup three times in a row. The only athlete who has won the prestigious Tour de Ski 4 times in a row. With a total of 5 Olympic medals, she is the most outstanding (in terms of the number of medals) Polish athlete in the history of the Winter Olympic Games and the second, after Irena Szewińska, most titled Polish woman in terms of medal achievements at the summer and winter Olympic Games. In the World Cup, she won 50 competitions and stood on the podium 104 times. She also has a PhD in Physical Culture.
Football fans don’t need to be introduced to this athlete. Robert Lewandowski is a Bayern Munich player, captain of the Polish national team and the best known Polish footballer in the world. He is also a record-breaker in terms of the number of appearances in the Polish national team and the best Polish shooter in history. In 2015, during a league match, Lewandowski scored five goals in nine minutes. It was the fastest scored 5 goals in the history of the four most active leagues in Europe since the time of the registration. In 2016, he was selected Athlete of the Year and took fourth place in the Golden Ball poll. The Guardian has also placed him among the 5 best football players in the world. In 2015, the IFFHS federation recognized him as the most productive scorer of international competitions. He is considered by experts to be one of the best Polish footballers in history, as well as central strikers and players of his generation in the world. A footballer appears not only at the stadium but also in the world of advertising and investment. Forbes” magazine reported that in 2018 as many as 50 thousand references to Lewandowski appeared in the press and on the Internet. Thanks to this, he landed at the top of the list of the most influential sportsmen in Poland.
He is known to smaller and larger motoring enthusiasts. He has won the title of the Polish Rally Champion three times and the title of the European Rally Champion once. He won the Polish Rally three times, took part in the World Championships and the Dakar Rally. Since 2005 he has also been taking part in cross-country rallies. In 2008 he took 2nd place in the final World Cup classification, in 2010 he won the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, and in 2013 the FIA World Cup in off-road rallies. Although he announced the end of his career in 2015, his popularity is not diminishing. He is still present in the world of motorsports but as a coach and expert.
Kubica is the first and only Pole in history to compete in Formula 1, in which he made his debut at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2006. In 2006-2009 he was a driver of the BMW Sauber team. In June 2008, during the Canadian Grand Prix, he won his first F1 victory, becoming the first Pole in history to do so. In that season, he led in the general classification for one stage and eventually finished fourth, which is his best result in his career. In 2010 he joined the Renault team. His promising career was interrupted by a tragic accident at the Ronde di Andorra in 2011, in which he almost lost his right hand. From 2013 to 2016 he competed in the World Rally Championship, and in his debut season, he became WRC 2 World Champion. From 2017 to 2018 he tested again in the F1 season, but returned to the Formula 1 paddock and became the reserve and development driver of the Williams team. After an eight-year break, in the 2019 season, he returned to his racing seat as a British team driver. He won the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy and the Best Polish Sportsman of 2008. For his return to sport, he was recognized as “Man of the Year 2012” by “Top Gear” magazine. Each race in which he takes part attracts millions of Poles in front of the TV sets.
Gortat is the only Pole who has achieved so much in the basketball world. He is a representative of Poland and the single Polish player in history who advanced to the NBA finals. Gortat was born in Lodz, and sport is in his blood because he comes from a family of athletes. His father is an Olympic medalist Janusz Gortat, and his mother is Alicja Gortat – a professional volleyball player who played in the Polish national team. In high school, Gortat decided to start basketball training. Six months later he was appointed to the youth team of the Polish national team. In 2003 he was spotted by German coaches and invited for testing at the RheinEnergie club. Soon he started performing in the German Bundesliga. In 2005 Gortat was chosen by the American club Orlando Magic to participate in the NBA league. As the first Pole in history, he took part in the play-offs of the NBA league, and in 2008 he played in its finals. In 2011 Marcin Gortat said goodbye to Orlando Magic and joined the club Phoenix Suns, where he played for the next three years. Since 2014 he has been associated with the Washington Wizards team, where he signed a record-breaking contract worth 60 million dollars.
The last few years have been mainly for ski jumpers. Even though Adam Malysz has ended his career, he is still at the top of the popularity. The Pole won the Olympic medal four times, the same number of times he won the World Championship title. It was Malysz who promoted ski jumping in Poland, attracted thousands of Poles to the stands and showed that Polish ski jumpers count in the most prestigious competitions. Currently, the former ski jumper is the director-coordinator for ski jumping in the Polish Ski Association, he cheers on his colleagues and often speaks on TV about sports. Malysz still enjoys great popularity among Poles, which is confirmed, among others, by winning the first place on the Forbes magazine’s list of the most recognizable athletes. In the same magazine, Malysz won a third place among the most influential people connected with sport.
Stoch continues the brilliant career of Adam Malysz, which is why he was naturally considered his successor. He is the most successful Polish athlete in the winter Olympic championships. He has become a three-time individual Olympic champion, a single World Champion of 2013. He is also twice World Cup winner, medalist of the Ski Flying World Championships and winner of two Four Hills tournaments. Successes on the hill translate into the popularity of the ski jumper. In 2018 alone Kamil Stoch won second place in the poll for the best athlete, first place in the survey and fourth place in the “Forbes” poll for the most influential people of Polish sport. He is also the current Polish record holder in ski jumping (251.5 m).
Born in 1983, a Polish swimmer specializing in butterfly and freestyle. She is an Olympic champion, two-time world champion, five-time European champion in a long swimming pool, three-time world record holder, three times the best Polish sportsman. In 2005 “Swimming World” magazine declared her the best swimmer in Europe, and in 2019 she was introduced to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She is intensively involved in charity work and donated her Olympic gold medal to an auction, for which she received PLN 257 000.
Polish boxer is a professional world champion of International Boxing Federation and International Boxing Organization in junior heavyweight and World Boxing Council (WBC) in light heavyweight, amateur European Championship medalist, international champion of Poland. Winner of 2nd and 4th place in 2005/2006 in the poll for the best Polish sportsman. He is the first Pole to win the “Muhammad Ali Giant Athlete Award”, Muhammad Ali’s award for outstanding sporting achievements and attitude outside the ring, as well as The Ring championship belt – the championship belt of “The Ring” magazine.