Why is Poland not more successful at the Olympics?

Today sees the end of the 2012 Olympics, hosted by Great Britain in particular, London. We’ve been doing our best to keep up with the goings on but what with being on holiday and all that we’ve not seen much. I suppose thanks to the lateness of the event I’ve recently watched the 10m individual diving events. Fascinating though they were I found myself longing for someone to shock us with a dive altogether less athletic so we could enjoy the simple grace and elegance of a person diving into the pool without the need for 4.5 turns or 2.5 twists to crank up the technical difficulty points. To be expected I suppose, all sport is getting buggered up by something these days.

Team GB have performed extremely well with a haul of medals that is easy to imagine as the best ever. A total of 62 medals so far 28 of which are golden and third place overall behind China and the USA. In recent memory only the last Olympics in Beijing came close with 19 gold and a total of 47. The best performance ever by team GB though came in 1908 when they absolutely dominated with a total medal tally of 146 of which 56 were gold and 51 silver. In second place were the USA with 47 medals including 23 gold.

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The 1908 games were supposed to be held in Rome but an eruption of Vesuvius trashed Naples and so funds were diverted. The UK stepped in and London held the games instead with White City being the main stadium. Hard to believe that the area was arable farmland before being developed for the games. The stadium itself stood until 1985 when it was demolished to make way for the BBC building.

Clearly team GB get a big lift from performing on home soil, which is not something Poland has ever been able to do. Poland are the third best Olympic performer not to have ever hosted the games after Hungary and Romania but don’t let that be a source of too much pride. In round figures, Poland has a population of 40 million, Romania only 20 million and Hungary a tiny 10 million. The UK has 60 million by comparison.

In this Olympics, Hungary has 17 medals with 8 golds, Romania comes second in this mini-league with 9 medals including 2 gold and 5 silver and Poland come last with 10 medals, 2 gold but only 2 silver.

Surely, based on population figures alone, Poland is seriously underperforming? For sure the UK are investing more, recently at least but I can’t believe that Hungary or Romania are spending more on their athletic facilities than Poland so the question is why are Poland not doing better? From what I’ve seen of the Poles they are at least if not more active as a nation than most, so for 40 million people to not translate into medals is surprising. As the Polish Olympic HQ is just down the road from where I live perhaps I’ll pop in and ask them. I suspect I’ll be told funding and politics but is that not just a bunch of excuses. Where’s the individual Poles with the determination and skill to live the Olympic dream? Few and far between.

No excuses please about focusing on the Winter Olympics because that’s even worse.

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2 thoughts on “Why is Poland not more successful at the Olympics?

  1. guest says:

    To be successful you need immigrants, money, doping, political pressure…

    See…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Klim
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Krzyzewski

  2. No, guest, you need TEAMWORK. Poland’s paltry medals haul were (with one exception) in individual sports. Hello Adam Małysz, Justyna Kowalczyk, Robert Korzeniowski… Poles play badly in teams. A nation of individualists.

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