Updated 3 August 2008
Szymon ZIOLKOWSKI, Poland (Hammer Throw)
Born 1 July, 1976, Poznan
1.90m / 125kg
Coaches: Krzysztof Kaliszewski, Henryk Olszewski
Club: AZS Poznan
At the age of 18, in Lisbon in 1994, Szymon Ziolkowski became a World Junior champion in the Hammer Throw, although he placed only second on the day. He gained the title some months later, when the winner, Vladislav Piskunov, of Ukraine, was disqualified as a doping offender.
It was not easy for the young Pole to compete with the strong group of throwers representing the former Soviet republics but he was trying to advance in the international hierarchy step by step, remaining under the wings of an experienced coach, Czeslaw Cybulski, in Poznan.
Before this team started working together, Cybulski had already been a mentor to Szymon’s father and instructed him how to throw the Hammer. At the very beginning, Szymon made progress as a Hammer thrower but he was unable to break the 80 metres barrier. He broke it, at last, in 2000 and surprisingly became an Olympic champion in Sydney, where the Polish woman Hammer thrower, Kamila Skolimowska, celebrated victory too.
The following year, Ziolkowski proved that he had not won the Olympic title in Australia by accident. This powerful athlete won gold at the World Championships, in Edmonton, with the national record 83.38, beating the Japanese rising star, Koji Murofushi.
After a disagreement, Ziolkowski and Cybulski separated in 2004. The Polish Athletic Federation immediately contracted a specialist from Belarus, Pyotr Zaytsau, who became the national Hammer Throw coach, taking care of both Ziolkowski and Skolimowska.
Zaytsau made Ziolkowski do a lot of strength exercises and the athlete lost his former perfect technique. He was very lucky to win the bronze medal at the 2005 World Championships, in Helsinki. He lost the lead position in his event, became completely disappointed with his achievements and, having said “goodbye” to Cybulski, he separated wfrom his Belarusian coach in May 2008.
Ziolkowski suffered serious knee injuries but there were additional reasons – family complications - for his inferior results. After his marriage had unexpectedly broken up, he moved from Poznan to Wroclaw, where he found a girlfriend. Finding a good Hammer Throw coach there, however, is simply impossible. In the meantime, he consults Krzysztof Kaliszewski and Henryk Olszewski, head coach at the Polish federation. But, as Ziolkowski lives in Wroclaw and Olszewski in Warsaw, the trio meets only from time to time.
83.38 NR (2001)
1991: 55.96; 1992: 63.84; 1993: 67.34; 1994: 72.48; 1995: 75.42; 1996: 79.52; 1997: 79.14; 1998: 79.58; 1999: 79.01; 2000: 81.42; 2001: 83.38; 2002: 79.78; 2003: 76.97; 2004: 79.41; 2005: 79.35; 2006: 82.31; 2007: 80.70 2008: 79.26
1993 7th European Junior Championships (San Sebastian) 62.42
1994 1st World Junior Championships (Lisbon) 70.44
1995 1st European Junior Championships (Nyiregyhaza) 75.42
q World Championships (Göteborg) 71.84
1996 10th Olympic Games (Atlanta) 76.64
1997 1st European Cup, First League (Prague) 74.78
2nd European Under-23 Championships (Turku) 73.68
1998 5th European Championships (Budapest) 78.16
1999 q World Championships (Sevilla) 74.12
2000 1st Olympic Games (Sydney) 80.02
2001 1st European Cup, Super League (Bremen) 80.87
1st World Championships (Edmonton) 83.38 NR
2nd Goodwill Games (Brisbane) 80.71
2002 q European Championships (Munich) 77.17
2004 1st European Cup, Super League (Bydgoszcz) 77.27
q Olympic Games (Athens) 76.17
2005 1st European Cup, Super League (Florence) 79.14
3rd World Championships (Helsinki) 79.35
5th World Athletics Final (Szombathely) 77.49
2006 1st European Winter Cup Throwing (Tel Aviv) 79.04
1st European Cup, Super League (Malaga) 79.31
5th European Championships (Göteborg) 78.97
7th World Athletics Final (Stuttgart) 77.44
2007 1st European Cup, Super League (Munich) 77.99
7th World Championships (Osaka) 80.09
8th World Athletics Final (Stuttgart) 74.54
2008 1st European Cup, Super League (Annecy) 79.26
Prepared by Maciej Petruczenko for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008