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Sport in Poland

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Title: Sport in Poland  
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Sport in Poland

Poland's sports include almost all sporting disciplines, in particular: football (the most popular sport in the country), motorcycle speedway, track & field, basketball, boxing, fencing, rugby union, field hockey, handball, ice hockey, swimming, volleyball, and weightlifting. The first Polish Formula One driver, Robert Kubica, has brought awareness of Formula One Racing to Poland. Volleyball is one of country's most popular sports with a rich history of international competition. Poland has made a distinctive mark in motorcycle speedway racing thanks to Tomasz Gollob, Jaroslaw Hampel and Rune Holta. Speedway is very popular in Poland, and the Polish Extraleague has the highest average attendances for any sport in Poland. The Polish mountains are an ideal venue for hiking, skiing and mountain biking and attract millions of tourists every year from all over the world. Cross country skiing and ski jumping are popular TV sports, gathering 4–5 million viewers each competition, with Justyna Kowalczyk and Kamil Stoch as the main attractions. Baltic beaches and resorts are popular locations for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and a broad-range of other water-themed sports.


  • History 1
  • Basketball 2
  • Football 3
    • UEFA Euro 2012 3.1
  • Ice hockey 4
  • Motorcycle speedway 5
  • Rally 6
  • Rugby union 7
  • Volleyball 8
  • Handball 9
  • Other sports 10
  • Famous Polish athletes 11
  • Research and academic education 12
  • Arts 13
  • Museums 14
  • See also 15
  • References 16


One of Poland's national sports throughout the centuries was Equestrianism.[1] In the interwar period Adam Królikiewicz won the first individual olimpic medal for Poland - bronze medal in the individual jumping competition in the 1924 Summer Olympics. He died after an accident during filming of the Battle of Somosierra charge in Andrzej Wajda's film Popioły. Tadeusz Komorowski took part in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris and Henryk Dobrzański "Hubal" in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. General Władysław Anders participated also in jumping competitions. Polish eventing team won two Summer Olympics medals before the WWII, its member Zdzisław Kawecki was murdered in Katyń massacre.[2][3]

St. Hubertus race in Łódź, Poland

Many Polish champions died during WWII, many of them murdered by the Nazis: Woldenberg camp.[5]

Closely related to equestrianism are the mixed pairs sled horse races (kumoterki) organized in the south by the Palant (Polish baseball) was popular till about 1950. Another traditional sports were zośka (Russian zoska, here explained as Hacky Sack, but much older), klipa, cymbergaj (similar to billard hockey). Ringo is relatively new (since 1968).

Polish cavalry has been armed with szablas (saber) and Polish sabre fencers dominated fencing in Poland till 1959: Polish sabre men team won bronze medal in Amsterdam, Jerzy Pawłowski was the first Polish Champion of the world in fencing in 1957 and the Polish team in 1959.[6]

Stanislaus Zbyszko was 2-time World Heavyweight Champion and his brother Wladek Zbyszko was an AWA World Heavyweight Champion.

Stanisława Walasiewicz successfully represented Poland. The problem of her gender remains unsolved.

Jewish community in Poland had several champions, e.g. chess players Miguel Najdorf, Dawid Przepiórka, Akiba Rubinstein, Savielly Tartakower. Józef Klotz scored in 1922 the first-ever goal for the Poland national football team.[7] Jewish sport club Hasmonea Lwów played in the Polish Football League and had excellent table tennis players, including Alojzy Ehrlich.

Polish People's Republic was controlled by the Soviet Union and the only form of legal competition with the SU was sport.[8] Such victories were possible only after the death of Joseph Stalin, so Polish boxers won five 1953 amateur Champions of Europe and Soviet ones only two.[9] Władysław Kozakiewicz won the gold medal in Moscow and made Kozakiewicz's gesture in defiance to the Soviet crowd. Many Poles believed that Stanisław Królak assaulted Soviet cyclists with his bicycle pump during 1956 Peace Race. The story seems to be invented, Królak won however the race.[10]


Basketball is one of Poland's most popular sports. In the 1960s, the national team belonged to the world elite as it won silver at the 1963 European Basketball Championship and bronze at the 1965 and 1967 event. At the 1967 FIBA World Championship, Poland was among the world's five elite basketball teams. At the 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympics, the Orły ("Eagles," as the team is often nicknamed) finished 6th.

Poland's NBA player Marcin Gortat represented the Poland national basketball team on numerous occasions

Since 2000, basketball in Poland went through a revival and has been home to several NBA players, including Marcin Gortat, Maciej Lampe and Cezary Trybański. The country hosted the 2009 European Basketball Championship.


The Polish National Football Team was the winner of the 1972 Olympic Football Tournament, as well as a runner-up in 1976 and 1992. Poland has made seven FIFA World Cup appearances in 1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2002 and 2006, and achieved considerable success, finishing third at both the 1974 World Cup in Germany and the 1982 World Cup in Spain. The junior team has also achieved success on the international stage, finishing third at the 1983 FIFA U-20 World Cup Final, fourth at the 1979 FIFA U-20 World Cup Final and fourth at the 1993 FIFA U-17 World Cup Final.

UEFA Euro 2012

UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying – Poland vs Armenia in Kielce.

Poland hosted the UEFA Euro 2012 along with Ukraine in 2012. It was the first time Poland has hosted an event of this magnitude in the field of soccer. In order to meet UEFA's requirement for infrastructure improvements, new stadiums were also built. Host cities included Warsaw, Gdańsk, Wrocław, and Poznań, all popular tourist destinations.[11][12][13][14][15]

Ice hockey

The Poland national ice hockey team is the national ice hockey team of Poland, and a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation. They are ranked 21st in the world in the IIHF World Rankings, but prior to the 1980s they were ranked as high as 6th internationally. They are one of only 8 countries never to have played below the Division I (former B Pool) level. The Polish Ice Hockey Federation (Polish: Polski Związek Hokeja na Lodzie, PZHL) is the governing body that oversees ice hockey in Poland.

The Polish Hockey Superleague (polishEkstraliga w hokeju na lodzie) is the premier ice hockey league in Poland. Poland has managed to produce some NHL calibre talent including Mariusz Czerkawski with the New York Islanders, Peter Sidorkiewicz for both the Hartford Whalers and the Ottawa Senators, and Krzysztof Oliwa for the New Jersey Devils where he won a Stanley Cup in 1999–2000.

Motorcycle speedway

Speedway match in the Polish League between Polonia Bydgoszcz and Unibax Toruń, 2009 [16]

One of the most popular sports in Poland is motorcycle speedway. The Polish Extraleague has the highest average attendances for any sport in Poland. The national motorcycle speedway team of Poland is controlled by the Polish Motor Union (PZM). The team is one of the major teams in international speedway.[17] They won the Speedway World Team Cup championship three times consequtively, in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (ahead of Australians and Swedes). No team has ever managed such feat.[18][19] The first meetings in Poland were held in the 1930s. Championships include: Individual Speedway Polish Championship (IMP), Polish Pairs Speedway Championship (MPPK), Team Speedway Polish Championship (DMP), and Speedway Ekstraliga. The Junior U-21 championships include: Individual Speedway Junior Polish Championship (MIMP), Polish Pairs Speedway Junior Championship (MMPPK), and Team Speedway Junior Polish Championship (MDMP).[20][21][22]


Poland held Polish Rally Championship (Rajdowe Samochodowe Mistrzostwa Polski, RSMP) since 1928. The Rally Poland (Rajd Polski) is the second oldest rally in the world after the famous classic Rally Monte Carlo. Between 1998 and 2001 the level was the strongest in Europe because many great drivers were racing in WRC cars. For a poor turnout Polski Związek Motorowy (PZM) rallies have lost rank, but they are still popular in Poland.

Rugby union

In 1921, Louis Amblard, a Frenchman, set up the very first Polish rugby club called "The White Eagles".[23] The first match was in 1922,[23] and the first club international in 1924 against a Romanian side.[23] The game became established in the Warsaw Military Academy in the early 1930s.[24] Nowadays rugby union is played in around 40 clubs by over 6.000 players.


Hubert Jerzy Wagner known as a "Kat" (Executioner) was a successful volleyball coach, his team won the 1976 Olympics.

Poland hosted the 2014 FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championship, in which they won the gold medal,and Men's Volleyball European Championship 2013 with Denmark. The Polish Men National Volleyball Team had achievied 14 medals from international competitions since 1965, it has also won the recent 2012 FIVB World League winning 3–0 over the US in the final.

Popular Spodek sport's complex in Katowice


Other sports

  • Bandy is still a very small sport in the country. Poland made their 1st international appearance 2006 at the U-15 World Championships for boys in Edsbyn, Sweden. The team consisted of players from Gizycko and Krynica-Zdrój.[25]
  • Polski Związek Orientacji Sportowej.[26]
  • Polish American Football League (PLFA – pl. Polska Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego) is the league of the American Football in Poland, founded in 2006. American football is arguably fastest growing sport in Poland.

Famous Polish athletes

  • Justyna Kowalczyk (born 19 January 1983 in Limanowa, Poland) is a Polish cross country skier who has been competing since 2000. She is an Olympic champion and also a double World Champion. She won Tour de Ski four times in a row and World cup four times, She won five medals (2-gold,1-silver,2-bronze) in the Olympic Games and seven medals (2-gold,3-silver,2-bronze) in the World Championships.
  • Irena Szewińska, sprinter (born Irena Kirszenstein, 24 May 1946 in Leningrad, Russia. Between 1964 and 1980 Szewińska participated in five Olympic Games, winning seven medals, three of them gold. She also broke six world records and was the first woman to hold world records at 100 m, 200 m and 400 m at the same time. She also won 13 medals in European Championships. Between 1965 and 1979, Szewińska has gathered 26 titles of Champion of Poland in 100 m sprint, 200 m sprint, 400 m sprint, 4x400 m relay and long jump.
  • Robert Korzeniowski, (born 30 July 1968 in Lubaczów, Poland) is a former Polish racewalker. He has won four gold medals at the Summer Olympics and has won three world championships.
  • Andrzej Gołota, boxer (born 5 January 1968) – In his early days, Gołota had 111 wins in a stellar amateur career that culminated in his winning a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Gołota also captured a Bronze Medal at the 1989 European Amateur Boxing Championships. His professional record stands at 39 wins, 6 losses, one no contest and one draw, with 32 knockouts.
  • Tomasz Adamek, a professional heavyweight boxer (born 1 December 1976) – his professional record (as of March 2013) is: 48 wins, 2 losses, with 29 knockouts.
  • Jerzy Dudek, football player (born 23 March 1973 in Rybnik, Poland) – Dudek, a famous Polish goalkeeper began his professional career with Sokół Tychy, a team in the Polish National Football League where he played one season in 1995–96. Between 1996 and 2002, Dudek was a member of Feyenoord Rotterdam of the Eredivisie league in the Netherlands, where he won the 1998–99 Dutch League Championship and the 1999–2000 Dutch Super Cup. During his stay with Feyenoord he also received the league's highest goalkeeping honors, winning the Dutch Keeper of the Year Award twice (1998–99, 1999–2000. In 2002 Dudek was transferred to Liverpool of the Premier League, where he became a household name, winning the League Cup in 2002–03, the UEFA Champions League in 2004–05 and the European Super Cup in 2005–06, as well as the FA Cup in 2005–06. Between 2007 and 2011 Dudek played for Real Madrid in Spain, and then retired. He has made 60 appearances for the Polish National Team.
  • Paweł Zagumny (born 18 October 1977 in Jasło, Poland) is a Polish volleyball player. He is a son of Lech Zagumny, the coach of Polish volleyball club AZS Politechnika Warszawa. He is playing in volleyball club Kedzierzyn-Kozle and also in Poland national team, in which he debuted in 1998. In his prime, Zagumny was widely considered as the best setter in the world.
  • Tomasz Gollob, motorcycle speedway rider (born 11 April 1971 in Bydgoszcz, Poland) – Gollob is Poland's most recognized motorcyclist. He has finished in the top ten of the Speedway Grand Prix 15 times, including his best performance in 2010 when he captured first place.
  • Alan Kulwicki (14 December 1954 – 1 April 1993), nicknamed "Special K" and the "Polish Prince", was an American NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) racecar driver.[2] He started racing at local short tracks in Wisconsin before he moved up to regional stock car touring series. He arrived at NASCAR, the highest and most expensive level of stock car racing in the United States, with only a borrowed pickup truck, a racecar, no sponsor, and a limited budget.[3] Despite starting with meager equipment and finances, Kulwicki earned the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award over drivers racing for well-funded teams. After Kulwicki won his first race at Phoenix International Raceway, he turned his car around for his trademark "Polish Victory Lap". Kulwicki won five more races before winning the 1992 Winston Cup championship by the then-closest margin in NASCAR history.
  • Grzegorz Lato, footballer (born 8 April 1950 in Malbork, Poland) – Lato is the all-time cap leader for the Polish National Football Team. He was the leading scorer at the 1974 FIFA World Cup, where he won the Golden Shoe after scoring a tournament best seven goals. Lato's playing career coincided with the golden era of Polish football, which began with Olympic gold in Munich in 1972 and ended a decade later with a third-place finish at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, a repeat of the Poles' impressive finish at the 1974 championships in Germany. Lato retired from professional football in 1984 with 45 international goals, a record that stands to this day. On 30 October 2008, he was elected to be the president of the Polish FA, but on 26 October 2012, Zbigniew Boniek became the Association's president.

Research and academic education

Poland developed a network of physical education universities, the oldest of them the Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw.


Poles obtained several medals in Art competitions at the Summer Olympics.


  • Museum of Sport and Tourism in Warsaw
  • Museum for Sport and Tourism in Karpacz [27]
  • Museum of Sport and Tourism in Łódź,[28] the division of the City Museum
  • Museum of Hunting and Horsemanship [29]

See also


  1. ^ Asia01, Zarys historii jeździectwa w Polsce (History of Equestrianism in Poland). Retrieved January 21, 2015. (Polish)
  2. ^ Zbigniew Suwalski, Historia polskiego jeździectwa. Sylwetki wybitnych postaci tworzących historię polskiego jeździectwa. Ich wyniki sportowe, życiorysy, osiągnięcia oraz anegdoty z nimi związane. Retrieved January 21, 2015. (Polish)
  3. ^ Kamila Górecka, Jak to jest z tym jeździectwem w Polsce 19.11.2013 Polski Związek Jeździecki.
  4. ^ Interview with William Heyen, Auschwitz and the perversion of football. The Global Game 2015.
  5. ^ Olympic Games on the other side of the barbed wire fences
  6. ^ Greatests accomplishments in Polish fencing
  7. ^ Henryk Vogler (1994). Wyznanie mojżeszowe: wspomnienia z utraconego czasu. pg 16: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy. p. 123.  
  8. ^ Ten biggest victories over Soviet Union
  9. ^ (Polish) boxers proved they were stronger
  10. ^ Stanisław Królak and the pump anecdote
  11. ^ "Municipal Stadium Poznan launched in style". (Union of European Football Associations). 21 September 2010. 
  12. ^ "Municipal Stadium Poznan". Union of European Football Associations. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Municipal Stadium Wroclaw". Union of European Football Associations. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Arena Gdansk". Union of European Football Associations. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "National Stadium Warsaw". Union of European Football Associations. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  16. ^ Polonia Bydgoszcz - Unibax Toruń quarterfinals, 16 August 2009 (32:52 min) on YouTube
  17. ^ Marcin Babnis, Speedway Team World Championship History. (Internet Archive) 1960–2004.
  18. ^ Poland - Speedway World Champions for the Third Time in a Row! Polaron. The Ultimate Guide to Poland, 17 July 2011.
  19. ^ Final: Heat 25, DPŚ Gorzów 2011, 16 July 2011 (2:15 min). Polacy mistrzami! on YouTube
  20. ^ Motorcycle Speedway at the Polish Motor Union official website (Polish)
  21. ^ Golden, Silver and Bronze Helmets Regulations (PDF file, direct download) at (Polish)
  22. ^ Polish speedway news on 2007. Internet Archive.
  23. ^ a b c Rugby week
  24. ^ Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1) p72
  25. ^ "Bandy 2006, World Championships". 2005-12-01. Retrieved 2014-05-05. 
  26. ^ Aleksander Bernaciak. " - Polski Związek Orientacji Sportowej". Retrieved 2014-05-05. 
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ [5]
  29. ^ [6]
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