Polish track-and-field association celebrates its centenary

An official centenary gala of the Polish Athletic Association took place on Friday in Warsaw, with the participation of acclaimed people from the sports and political circles.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda awarded distinctions to merited athletes, activists, coaches, physicians and physiotherapists.

In his speech, President Duda recalled Poland's biggest track and field successes, starting with the first Polish Olympic gold won in 1928 by discus thrower Halina Konopacka. He pointed out that Konopacka's victory began a "golden era" for Polish athletes, which has continued until today.

He also recalled Poland's legendary track and field competitors, among them the late sprinter star Irena Szewińska.

The World Athletics (formerly IAAF) head Sebastian Coe stressed the exceptional role Poland plays in the international athletics.

“This is an association that has made a massive contribution to our global sport. There are only 36 athletic federations in the world that have reached their centenary, and Poland is one of them,” said Mr Coe, adding that some of the biggest names in the world’s track and field that have distinguished and dignified the discipline come from Poland.

The head of the European Athletics Federation Svein Arne Hansen joined Sebastian Coe in praising Polish track and field, however, he also pointed out that a new athletic stadium meeting all the modern requirements has to be built in Poland.

During the ceremony, the Golden Spikes annual award was presented to hammer thrower Joanna Fiodorow and long distance runner Marcin Lewandowski.

The Polish Athletic Association was founded on October 11, 1919, in Kraków, southern Poland. Track and field athletes won the most gold medals in the history of Poland’s appearances at the Summer Olympic Games - 25.