Kamila Skolimowska was born on November 4, 1982 in Warsaw. She grew up in a home with great sports traditions. Both her closer and more distant family members actively practiced many sports. Starting from those athletic ones such as discus throw or ball push, weightlifting, to volleyball, ending with rowing.
Even as a child of several years, Kamila showed great physical prowess. She loved to do flips, bridges and tummies. She was eager to ride a bike, scooter or skate. She also manifested great swimming talent. The most fun she had was jumping into the water. Kamila has always had great support in her loved ones. Her parents encouraged both Kamila and her older brother Robert to take an interest in sports. After all, they professed the principle that sports teach: reliability, tolerance, courage, compromise and diligence, and this is what they wanted to pass on to their children.
Weights and other sports
At the age of 9, Kama began training in weightlifting under coach Krzysztof Suchocki. After two years of hard work, she achieved 60 kg in the weightlifting and 90 kg in the toss. This result guaranteed her a bronze medal at the Polish Senior Women’s Championships held in Elblag. Unfortunately, due to restrictive regulations, Kamila’s adventure with the sport came to an end. Mr. and Mrs. Skolimowski therefore began looking for another sport for their daughter. There were two sports classes at the elementary school on Afrykańska Street: one with a rowing profile, the other with an athletics profile. Wanting to follow the successes of her aunt Barbara Wojciechowska (an Olympian from Montreal), Kamila decided on rowing. At the time, she trained simultaneously in two disciplines: rowing and weightlifting, which she found hard to give up. In rowing Kamila did very well – she broke class and school records, competed bravely with boys, competed in competitions, was successful, but felt that this was not a sport she enjoyed doing. She gave up… She still played volleyball for a few months at the Skra Warsaw club, but that wasn’t what she was looking for either.
In 1996 Kamila and her brother went to the Legion together, where her attention was caught by a javelin. She started playing with it. This was noticed by coach Zbigniew Palyshko, who persuaded her to come to a trial training session. He also suggested that she try her hand at a new athletic competition, which at the time was the hammer throw. At the first training session, she threw 27 meters, which was a great prediction for the future. The following days showed that Kamila was manifesting a truly great talent. A period of hard training and first successes began. Despite such a young age, Kamila needed only two months to become one of the leading Polish hammer throwers. During a competition held on the main field of the Warsaw Skra, she threw 40 meters. On the same day on the side court, she managed to improve this result by as much as 7 meters. This result, although officially unmeasured, was better than the then Polish record. The turning point in Kamila’s sports career, however, turned out to be the Polish Championships held on June 21, 1996 in Piła. Kamila, then less than 14 years old, with a throw of 47 meters and 66 centimeters, won the gold medal in the senior women’s category and set a new national record, while beating many of her older colleagues. This was undoubtedly the beginning of an adventure that changed Kamila’s further life. After a long search for the optimal discipline for herself, many sacrifices and changes, she finally found what made her happy, what she felt comfortable in. The next four years passed Kamila training, going to training camps and competing in numerous competitions, mainly in junior categories.
SYDNEY 2000 Olympic Games
On September 29, 2000, the less than 18-year-old Kamila made a lasting mark in the history of Polish athletics. Already in the first qualifying attempt of the IO in Sydney, Australia, Kamila fulfilled the minimum and entered the final. She started the final competition with a burnt attempt. In the second throw she no longer made a mistake and the hammer went 66.33 meters, which at this stage of the competition gave her fifth place. The third attempt was a demonstration of everything that is most beautiful in the hammer throw: perfectly tightened turns and a powerful throw. The hammer landed at 71 meters and 16 centimeters, which gave her the lead in the competition, and at the same time a new Polish record and a world record for junior girls. The young athlete did not let herself be overcome by stage fright and the pressure of the big event. The next three throws of the competition were also very successful, but it was the third one that guaranteed her the Olympic gold medal. Kamila defeated, among others, two very titled athletes: Russian Olga Kuzienkova and German Kristen Muenchow. At the same time she became the first Olympic champion in the history of this competition and the youngest in the history of Polish sport. Upon her return to the country, she was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit by the President of Poland.
All this caused her world to change dramatically. Overnight she became a media person, was invited to numerous programs and official meetings, and gave countless interviews. Many people asked her for an autograph or a moment of ordinary conversation. Kamila was always available, patiently, with a smile, posed for photos and answered questions, which showed that despite her young age she is a well-ordered and mature person.
In the following years, successes were interspersed with failures. In 2001, at the World Championships in Edmonton, Kamila finished fourth. She did better a year later at the European Championships in Munich, where she won the silver medal with a score of 72.46. She also triumphed at the 2003 European Youth Championships held in Bydgoszcz. At the Olympic Games in Athens (2004), she placed fifth. Two years later at the European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, she won bronze. At the World Championships in Osaka (2007), she once again finished just off the podium. At the Olympic Games in Beijing (2008), she failed to score a single attempt. Throughout Kamila’s career, she became Polish champion twelve times – the last title she won in 2008 in Szczecin. She also broke the national record 17 times. She set her personal best of 76.83 on May 11, 2007 during the IAAF Super Grand Prix in Doha, Qatar.
Kamila spent every free moment with her family and friends. She was the soul of the company, so many people always gathered around her. This was influenced by her character traits: she was always cheerful and helpful, sensitive to the injustice of others, able to listen, and at the same time she was feisty and very open. Friends say that she lived for others…. Even after many successes and winning Olympic gold, soda water did not go to her head, she remained herself to the end. She loved chocolate and cookie ice cream. Her passion was traveling, but she felt most comfortable at home. She collected elephant figurines, with the trunk raised, she believed they brought her luck. She liked cars and driving fast, and even did a course in driving under difficult conditions. Since 2006, she became fascinated with deep-sea diving, so much so that she took a diving instructor course. The motto Kamila has followed throughout her life has been: “Believe that what is difficult will one day be easier!”.
When the excitement of the Olympics subsided and the mundane of everyday life returned, Kamila returned to school and took the matriculation exam. With the help of her friends, who collected materials for her, she managed to catch up on all the material and took the matriculation exam with the rest of her class. She took the exam in Polish, mathematics and Russian. After passing her high school diploma, she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Social and Economic Sciences. The title of her bachelor’s thesis was: “Electronic communication between BRE Bank and its customers.” After her defense, she decided to continue her studies, this time at the Faculty of Management at Warsaw University. She defended her master’s thesis entitled: “Methods of assessing creditworthiness and its collateral” in 2005. She also planned to pursue doctoral studies. She even began collecting materials related to the subject of athletes with disabilities, which is close to her heart. Education was very important to her, and she wanted to develop and expand her knowledge all the time.
In February 2004, Kamila decided to leave the Warszawianka club and move to Gwardia Warszawa. As it was a police club, Kamila was able to apply for a position in the police force. She did her training in Legionowo, and after finishing it, she worked in the prevention unit in Iwiczna near Piaseczno, with the rank of sergeant. She viewed police work as a form of life insurance after her sports career ended. In March 2008, she was transferred to Tomice, where she was placed in the Professional Development Department.
February 18, 2009
Kamila died suddenly on February 18, 2009 at a training camp for Polish athletes in Vila Real de Santo António, Portugal. The cause of death was a pulmonary artery embolism. The funeral took place on February 26, 2009. Kamila’s ashes were laid to rest in a grave at the Alley of the Meritorious at the Powązki Military Cemetery. The tombstone plaque reads: “We leave when we can no longer be better.” She was posthumously awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.
The Foundation, which was established by Kamila’s family and friends in December 2010, should be considered the best commemoration. The Foundation helps young, injured athletes, promotes sports, especially athletics among children and young people, and organizes popular events such as: Kamila Skolimowska Memorial. In August 2009, Kamila’s star was unveiled in the Avenue of Sports Stars in Władysławowo. Since 2010, Kamila has been the patron of the General Education School Complex No. 3 in Bytom. Also in Elk, Kamila was paid tribute by giving her name to the athletics stadium located at the Jędrzej Śniadecki School Complex No. 1. In Warsaw, Kamila’s name is carried by the fields of the Ewa Szelburg – Zarembina Elementary School No. 312. Since May 17, 2014, also the stadium of the Central Sports Center in Spala has been named after Kamila Skolimowska. In September 2015, the Foundation, together with the Polish Olympic Committee, organized a week-long exhibition entitled: “Kamila Skolimowska – a girl on a medal”, referring to the 15th anniversary of Kamila’s winning the Olympic gold medal in Sydney.