Poland's underachievers urged to trust in youth

2021-03-04 12:06:28

Tomasz Sikora says Poland's men's biathlon team for Beijing 2022 should focus on youth. CHINA DAILY WARSAW-Polish biathlon great Tomasz Sikora says his country's men's team needs an injection of youth to have a realistic chance of glory at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. "Polish biathletes are able to fight for a medal at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, but it's time for the men's team to focus on youth," Sikora told Xinhua in an exclusive interview. Sikora is a three-time world championship medalist, but his greatest achievement was winning silver in the mass-start event at the 2006 Turin Games-Poland's last Olympic medal in biathlon. "The ski jumpers will be leaders of our delegation in Beijing. The biathletes are also able to fight for medals but they have to prepare well. It's hard to say why in biathlon we are waiting for the next Olympic medal for so long," said Sikora. "For the men's team, a major shift of focus appears to be necessary. We have had the same athletes for years and they don't make progress. We're happy when someone takes points in the World Cup competition but it's not enough. "It's time to invest in young athletes. In ski jumping and cross-country we did it and now we are bearing the fruits." The 47-year-old recalled how he had to overcome illness in the lead-up to the mass-start event in Turin to claim silver, behind Germany's Michael Greis. "I thought that maybe I should have pulled out due to health reasons," Sikora said. "I had a sinus problem, I felt pain every day, I slept three, four hours at night. I was extremely tired. What is more, before the mass event I failed in all competitions. And then I surprisingly won silver." Sikora added that the ability to adapt under pressure is a vital skill for Olympians. "One of the most important things to achieve success at the Games is experience," he said." Sometimes it's difficult to focus just on the competition. Therefore, an athlete has to find a balance to be in the best shape. "I changed tactics for the mass event. Earlier I wanted to be fast during the shooting as I tried not to lose seconds to my rivals, but the results were not good. Then I decided to focus on the shooting accuracy, and it was a good choice. "It's hard to handle the pressure when you're aware you have a huge chance to take an Olympic medal. I remember in the crucial moment, my legs were trembling. I could fight for gold or concentrate on defending the second position. "I chose the second option. After crossing the finish line I started to cry. It was the best moment of my career." Xinhua