Tag Archives: Agnieszka Radwanska

I Need A Hero!

The sudden rise of Jerzy Janowicz into consciousness over the course of the past few days has highlighted the desire to see a genuine sporting hero emerge from Poland. For those not watching the news at some point in the past few days, Janowicz has risen from mild obscurity to find himself qualifying for the mens ATP tennis tournament in Paris. Simply qualifying would have been considered a huge success for someone ranked as number 221 in the mens world rankings as of one year ago. However, he then performed past any expectations to win five ties and qualify for the final, played today. In qualifying, he proved his potential by beating five players currently ranked in the top 20 of the world rankings. It was only after his quarter final win over Andy Murray though, that he rose to fame and began appearing as a noteworthy person on Polish news reports. Unfortunately, he suffered defeat today in the tournament final, losing in 2 sets to David Ferrer or Spain, but Janowicz’s joy in proceeding so far through the tournament was evident with each successive game.

Jerzy Janowicz shows emotion after his semi-final victory in Paris

The increase in interest through the week showed through his appearance on all of the news reports and sports bulletins, although the 21-year old probably had barely a mention before this. Interviews with parents, coaches and neighbours were all lined up in order to get the low-down on Jerzy and put the spotlight on him. He had some level of success as a junior player, but would expect a big jump in profile now following such success. However, the way in which it has affected life in Poland is interesting. A Yahoo! sports report published yesterday after his semi-final win indicated huge media following already

“Janowicz can now expect to attract some sponsors, especially since TV crews have been besieging his house in Poland. “The street next to my house actually is completely blocked. There is like about nine or 10 cars, TVs, and it’s completely blocked. There is no way to get to my house right now,” Janowicz explained.”

There is even talk of contact from President Komorowski, to congratulate Janowicz on his successful progress through the tournament.

The above seems to highlight the need in Poland to find and hold onto a sporting hero, usually in a sport which is individual. In recent years, the focus has hopped between a few various contenders for the crown of Poland’s most beloved sportstar.

  • For some time, that seemed to be Adam Małysz. In the winter of 2001/02, the Wisła Eagle, as he was known came to prominence through wins in ski-jumping competitions, and became a household name and top contender easch season. He had a strong following, but as success tailed off after the 2006/07 season, he seemed to lose his edge. However, a strong finish gettgin solver in the 2010 Winter Olympics and more success before his retirement in 2011 meant he left well-loved.
  • Justyna Kowalczyk is another name seen as being well recognised across winter sports, with her having the all time record of 10 wins in the Tour de Ski cross-country competitions. She has a hugely impressive record, but has not always gotten the recognition for it, as her style her been based more on power rather than grace which many other skiers use. However, her popularity in Poland has lead to recognition and advertisement for a bank among others.
  • Robert Kubica displayed natural ability for motor racing from an early age, and with success in Formula Renault series, it seemed inevitable for him to move to Formula 1 racing. He built up experience through 2006 and 2007, which then culminated in a race victory in the Canadian Grand Prix of 2008. He continued to progress through 2009 and 201o, getting 7 further podium finished after his win. However, his crash in early 2011 while rally driving in Spain has resulted in him missing 2 seasons of Formula 1 , and there are questions over his potential return.
  • Mariusz Pudzianowski won 5 World’s Strongest Man competitions, more than anyone else, and also finished in second place twice. He has recently switched to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) competitions, with 5 wins and 2 losses from his 8 bouts so far. During his time in the Strong Man competitions, he was a household name and would be easily recognised as one of the best.
  • Agnieszka Radwańska has made strong progress through the ranks of women’s tennis, improving steadily over the past few years and picking up 10 tournament wins. This was highlighted by her reaching the final of the 2012 Wimbled0n tournament, although she lost that over three sets to Venus Williams. She reached the world ranking of number 2 also during this year, showing consistent performance over sustained periods.
  • And now Jerzy Janowicz makes further tennis progress, this time on the mens side.

What connects all the above (in one way at least) is that they are all participating in individual sports, fighting for themselves rather than for a club, group or national team. Apart from the volleyball squads (which do not get the same level of profile, despite good success levels), there seems to be more focus on finding that individual sports hero or heroine who can represent the best of Poland. The expectation is set with a few years of monitoring performances closely, at least until the next new idividual star comes along. Thus the question for Poland will be if Janowicz can pick up the ‘hero’ mantle from those who have gone before.

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Poland and Britain become tennis buddies

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A curiously serendipitous weekend we have that is bringing our two nations together in celebration of a pair of tennis underdogs.

In the Wimbledon finals being played today and tomorrow both Poland and England will be represented for the first time in over 70 years.

In the case of Britain, Andy Murray will play Roger Federer tomorrow. Although Andy has been in Grand Slam finals before as well as Wimbledon semi-finals, and lost them all, we have to look back to 1936 before we find another Brit in the Wimbledon mens singles final. Fred Perry won both Wimbledon and the US open finals that year and no other Brit has come close ever since.

Of course, as an Englishman, I’m quietly hoping the Scottish Murray fails so the English Perry can remain supreme! ;-) If he wins I will have to continue using the all embracing British tag to gain any bragging rights.

Federer is aiming for his record equalling seventh Wimbledon success, which will put him on a par with Pete Sampras. We will see tomorrow whether Andy Murray can spoil Federer’s day.

British victory in general is not that far back. The last Brit to win the ladies final at Wimbledon was Virginia Wade in 1977. Also, in 1960 Brits were runners up in the men’s double final and in 1970 in the ladies doubles.

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For Poland it is Agnieszka Radwanska who plays in the women’s final today against Serena Williams and as such is the first Polish Grand Slam finalist in a women’s singles tournament for 73 years. Both finalists of course are one part of well known tennis playing sister acts. There’s a pub trivia quiz question for you!

If you count doubles matches then you would only need to go back to 77 and 78 for a Polish victory when Fibak was in the French and Australian finals, winning the latter. However, his best performance at Wimbledon was the semi final in 1978. For singles at Wimbledon, it is that well known Jadwiga Jędrzejowska who holds all the records. She made the US and Wimbledon finals in 1937 and the French in 1939, losing them all.

Aga has a double incentive because winning would not only give her the Wimbledon title but also make her the world number 1 ranked tennis player. The first ever Polish number 1. All she has to do is get past Serena Williams!

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They both have their excuses; Aga is nursing a bad cold in the head, Andy’s head is also problematic in that he often loses it. Hopefully this time they won’t need them – excuses, not heads!

Strange how the tennis fortunes of both countries are so closely linked, so Polandian wishes them well in their respective battles. Let’s look forward to double celebrations on Sunday evening!

EDIT (Monday) – Oh well. Seems they both tried hard but neither could pull off a famous victory. Aga is destined to win soon enough, even if she has to wait for Serena to slow with age. Murray needs therapy, he doesn’t believe he can win, but he can. The victors behaved like true champions and came back from sticky situations. Well done to them.

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Poland in the news

A quick round up of some topical stories for you:

Poland is a poor country

It seems all those who keep whining about how poor Poland is are actually right! Poland comes fourth from bottom of the EU “rich list” judging by GDP per capita (as expressed by Purchasing Power Standards which eliminate price level differences between countries).

poor-poland

The only countries to be worse off than Poland are, in descending order;

  • Latvia (crisis stricken – definitely)
  • Romania (overrun by gypsies, dead dogs & thieves – allegedly)
  • Bulgaria (in the grip of the mafia – allegedly)

Doesn’t look good, does it! [That’s one of those ‘question tag things – feel free to ignore it]

Finance Minister gets a close shave

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No wonder Tusk is looking so miserable. His minister of finance seated next to him, Jacek Rostowski, survived a vote of no confidence yesterday by 223 votes to 193, not exactly encouraging. It’s pretty easy to understand the concerns though. Looking back at an article in the Economist from a year ago we see that Tusk’s government was predicting a budget deficit this year of 1.3% of GDP, well within the EU 3% guideline. A year on and we’re looking at a deficit that is predicted to be a whopping 6.6% of GDP and stern words from the EU to get this back under control.

I have trouble believing that the economic crisis has unexpectedly deteriorated by such a magnitude in the last 12 months so I think it’s fair to ask questions about the competence of this government’s financial management and forecasting. One thing for sure, we won’t be enjoying these lower tax rates for very long!

Want a Polish Master’s degree? Got €330?

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So the truth is out, we finally know why there are so many Poles with Master’s Degrees – because there’s a roaring trade in downloaded pre-prepared theses. For just €330 you can buy yourself a Master’s thesis on any subject you like, but why stop there? For €3,000 you may as well go the whole hog and get a Doctoral one!

For some people writing dissertations on demand is the only source of income and they earn up to 3,000 zlotys (660 euros) a month. Internet shops which specialize in writing Master’s, Bachelor’s and Doctoral theses, and employ the whole teams of “experts” are also thriving.

This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Not that Pole’s aren’t as smart as we thought they were but that they are smart enough to find find ways around everything, usually involving a download and a profitable business opportunity. What they lack in thesis writing ability they make up for in street savvy.

The next Polish sporting hero is……..

For sure going to be Agnieszka Radwanska, the tennis player who is currently competing at Wimbledon. Yesterday, she won a very tight second round match against the unseeded Chinese player, Ping Pong (surely shome mishtake – Ed). I expect to see Aga crowned as the Ladies Singles champ pretty soon and for a Polish media frenzy to follow immediately thereafter. Her younger sister, Urszula, who is also playing at Wimbledon this year, sadly lost her second round match against Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova (something to do with onions perhaps?) and so will be taking an early bath. Give it a couple of years and we’ll be toasting “the Polish Williams sisters”. What am I talking about, let’s toast them now, who cares if they won anything yet! GO GO RADWANSKA SISTERS!!!

Indian Wells Tennis

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