– I’m delighted to be here again. Last year the weather spoiled the jumping, but it’s looking great this time. I feel I have some unfinished business here – stated Armand Duplantis ahead of the 14th Silesia Kamila Skolimowska Memorial. The press conference on Saturday started the finał countdown. The Diamond League meeting in the Silesian Stadium is only a day away. Some tickets are still available for purchase.
All the cables have been laid and the timing system has been tested to ensure the tons of electronic equipment brought into Poland are working correctly. The seats in the Silesian Stadium have been cleaned, the banner with a picture of Kamila Skolimowska has been hung and the signs indicating the way from the warmup stadium to the competition arena have been placed. There was a press conference and a transportation briefing. The last athletes are receiving their accreditations. The final pacing talks are under way for the track events.
Something big is in the air.
A day for world champion’s dreams to come true. Silesian Stadium ready to go
On Sunday, 16 July, at 2 PM, Poland’s biggest athletics event of the year, the Silesia Kamila Skolimowska Memorial will kick off. Starting this year, the meeting has become a permanent fixture on the Diamond League calendar.
– The shot put world champion Joe Kovacs said a year ago that he wanted the “Kama” Memorial to be part of the series forever, not just as a replacement. We make dreams come true. He got what he wanted! – jokingly said Piotr Małachowski, sports director of the meeting. He added it would be an oversimplification to say the competition is a one-day event. It is a result of nearly a year’s worth of work. – We are awaiting an athletics feast, that is how we look at it. And a feast takes preparation – the former discus thrower said. Małachowski, the only Pole ever to win the overall Diamond League title, admits there were many stressful days along the way. But having arrived in Silesia, the organising committee actually started a dance. It is a tradition and a sign that things are actually happening and everything is coming together.
By Saturday nearly all participants have arrived. Some athletes, including guests from the United States, came several days early to adjust to the time zone change.
– We needed to organise extra training slots, occasionally to help with other matters such as entry to a gym or special meals. It is normal business, that is what we are here for. The great team of volunteers is helping us. We wish for the athletes to describe their visit in Poland as an excellent experience in the Diamond League surveys, as they did last time. Last year, we received an average rating of 9.13 points out of 10. Our goal is to beat that score. That is what we have been shooting for – said Marek Plawgo, communications director of the meeting.
World record talk is a no-no – not wanting to hex it. But everyone knows who to look out for
The athletes’ feelings are only one part of the aspirations of the Diamond League organisers in Silesia. The other part is the results, which, along with the participants’ PBs, are the basis for World Athletics rankings. The Diamond League meeting in Paris, where three world records were broken, set the bar sky-high.
– That does not mean it is an impossible job – Małachowski said. It was his job to negotiate with the stars, who will strive for success.
Some of them appeared on Saturday at the press conference for the media. For the high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, this is a homecoming of sorts.
– Having a Polish coach, I must have done about half of the training during my career in your country. That makes me even happier to finally make it to the Memorial in Silesia. I love you, dzień dobry! – the greeting sounded very genuine and is a promise of a great duel against Gianmarco Tamberi, the Italian with whom the Qatari shared the Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Barshim has competed at the Skolimowska Memorial once before, but that was while the competition still took place in Warsaw. For Armand Duplantis, this is the second consecutive visit to Silesia.
– I’m happy to be back here. Last year I got to know the Silesian Stadium as a great venue for jumping high, everything is just right here. I did 6.10 and I wasn’t fully satisfied, as we were hampered by rain. I want to finish something, that’s how I feel. That makes me look forward to Sunday even more, since the forecasts show sunny weather. I cannot promise anything, of course, but I know I am well prepared. One month before World Championships is a good time to shine – stated the pole vault world record holder. The goal of the Swede, who may now vault on longer poles than ever before, is 6.23, a new world record. That would give him a bonus of 50 thousand dollars, the usual amount for a record mark.
Surprise for the king of the 400 metres. Shericka Jackson wants to give herself one on her birthday, too
Who else may target the big bonus? The entry lists include no fewer than five current world record holders. Apart from Duplantis, they are Yulimar Rojas (triple jump), Tobi Amusan (100 metres hurdles), Ryan Crouser (shot put) and Wayde van Niekerk, a one-lap specialist.
– All of us dream of the world record. But I’m not sure if I’m already in the shape allowing to chase Hicham El Guerrouj’s mark. Here in Silesia, I would just like to improve my PB. What will be the result? I don’t know. My idea is to keep improving my best time until it is comparable with Hicham’s – stated Ingebrigtsen, playing down the hype.
But before his part of the conference even started, a cake was brought into the room.
– Happy birthday, Wayde! – that was how the official part of the 400 metres world record holder’s visit to Poland started. The South African blew out the candles and went on to state that, despite his 31 years of age, he is getting back into top shape. – I know it’s possible to run fast here. That’s just what I want! – he said enigmatically. Shericka Jackson, who sat next to him, joined the conversation as well. She tried to play down all talk of a world record. However, she was happy about the forecasted high temperature. – 35 degrees? That’s great for sprinters – that was the feeling expressed by the Jamaican, who is awaiting a birthday surprise of her own on the day of the competition.
Free public transportation for ticket holders. Leave cars at home, bring water
The expected heat may indeed make the sprinters happy. The group includes Ewa Swoboda, one of over a dozen Polish athletes on the entry lists, whose aspiration is to break the 11-second barrier. The organisers wish the spectators to leave with happy memories as well. Considering the weather forecasts, it has been decided every person will be allowed to bring into the stadium water in a transparent plastic bottle, up to a maximum of two litres per person.
The fans making a last-minute decision to arrive in Silesia will be able to purchase tickets in the offices by the stadium. Their location, as well as the timetable and other practical information, may be found on the event’s website: memorialkamili.pl. Those already in possession of tickets may travel to the stadium free of charge by public transportation and Koleje Śląskie trains. The number of parking spots available outside the Silesian Stadium is limited.
Competition between stars of the sport is not the only attraction awaiting the fans. Outside the stadium, starting at 12:30, the same time as the stadium gates open, they will be able to take part in the Diamond Family Picnic. The attractions come in eight different zones, including sports, entertainment, health and virtual reality.
The meeting starts at 2 PM. The main Diamond League program commenced at 4 PM.
The main partner of the Silesia Kamila Skolimowska Memorial is the Silesian voivodeship. The event has also received funding from the state budget through the Ministry of Sports and Tourism. Additionally, the meeting is partly financed by the State Fund for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled. The co-organisers are the Silesian Stadium and World Athletics. The event partners are Orlen SA, 4F, Carolina Car Company, Pentagon Research, TVP SPORT and WP Sportowe Fakty.