WARSAW – A boyish-looking ‚goral’ (mountaineer) has soared into the limelight to give Poland its first hero of the new millennium. Adam Malysz, 23, recently became the first Pole ever to win the prestigious Four Hills ski-jumping tournament when he won the fourth round of the World Cup event in Bischofshofen, Austria. He also made tournament history by scoring 1,045.9 points and set another record when he bested his nearest rival, Finland’s Janne Ahonen, by 104.4 points. (The previous point advantage was scored in 1988 by Finn Matti Nykanen.)
‚I want to thank everyone who made this victory possible,’ was about the only remark the shy and somewhat flustered Ma3ysz could manage after it was all over, and he seemed as surprised by the accomplishment as everyone else. He later added. ‚I do not want to become a great star like Germany’s Martin Schmitt who is constantly hounded by journalists and fans. I want to live the way I have up till now.’ But that may be easier said than done. Ma3ysz, who won a cash prize of $20,000. and a German-built Audi atuomobile, was immediately pounced on by newsmen and became an instant celebrity to millions of Poles.
During the tournament hundreds of residents had gathered in the town square of Wis3a, his hometown, to admire his prowess on a huge outdoor TV screen and root for their native son. Among them were his parents, attractive young wife and young daughter. After his triumphal fourth round, champagne corks popped and a wild round of cheers went up to celebrate the victory. But not only the residents of the mountain town were jubilant — all of Poland was overjoyed to be able to start a new century and millennium with a new national hero. Among the first to convey his congratulations by telephone was Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek who comes from the same area.
Malysz’s achievement was Poland’s first major triumph on the world ski-jumping scene since another ‚góral’, Wojciech Fortuna, won the gold medal at the 1972 Winter Olympic Games held in Sapporo, Japan. But that success turned out to be a one-shot deal. Critics say the sudden fame went to the head of the then 19-year-old Fortuna who gave himself over to wine, women and song and his skiing career never got off the ground afterwards. But one week after his Four Hills victory, Ma3ysz proved his success was not just a flash in the pan. In the neighboring Czech Republic, he set new records and outclassed the world’s top ski-jumpers at another World Cup competition. Will he shoot for Olympic gold at next year’s winter games? — remains to be seen, but for the time being at least Poland and Polonia have themselves a new unquestioned hero.
Malysz takes the world cup lead
PARK CITY, Utah, January 20 – Poland’s Adam Malysz uncorked a 133.5-meter jump on the final round to take the World Cup points lead and crush the field by nearly 37 points in winning his fifth consecutive World Cup meet Saturday. Malysz, who had set distance records in the first two days of training on the 2002 Olympic 120-meter hill at Utah Olympic Park, went 129.5 and 133.5 meters for 276.4 points.