Piotr Malachowski

Athlete Profile

    Poland Poland
    7 JUN 1983
Piotr Malachowski in the discus at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
Discus Throw 71.84 Hengelo (Blankers-Koen Stadion) 08 JUN 2013
Discus Throw (1.750kg) 60.46 Kingston (NS), JAM 18 JUL 2002

Progression - Outdoor

Discus Throw

Performance Place Date
2016 68.15 Warszawa 28 MAY
2015 68.29 Cetniewo (OPO) 01 AUG
2014 69.28 Halle 17 MAY
2013 71.84 Hengelo (Blankers-Koen Stadion) 08 JUN
2012 68.94 Halle 19 MAY
2011 68.49 Szczecin 25 JUN
2010 69.83 Gateshead (International Stadium) 10 JUL
2009 69.15 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 19 AUG
2008 68.65 Sopot 27 JUL
2007 66.61 Kaunas 25 JUL
2006 66.21 Málaga 29 JUN
2005 64.74 Biala Podlaska 26 JUN
2004 62.40 Kraków 22 SEP
2003 57.83 Warszawa 06 SEP
2002 56.84 Bialystok 03 MAY
2001 54.19 Zielona Góra 19 MAY
2000 52.04 Ljubljana 23 SEP

Discus Throw (1.750kg)

Performance Place Date
2002 60.46 Kingston (NS), JAM 18 JUL

Honours - Discus Throw

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
The XXXI Olympic Games 2 67.55 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 13 AUG 2016
15th IAAF World Championships 1 67.40 Beijing (National Stadium) 29 AUG 2015
14th IAAF World Championships 2 68.36 Moskva (Luzhniki) 13 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 5 67.19 London (Olympic Stadium) 07 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 9 63.37 Daegu (DS) 30 AUG 2011
1st IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup 2010 4 64.20 Split (Poljud Stadion) 05 SEP 2010
IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 3 65.60 Thessaloníki 12 SEP 2009
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 2 69.15 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 19 AUG 2009
6th IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 2 66.07 Stuttgart (Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion) 13 SEP 2008
The XXIX Olympic Games 2 67.82 Beijing (National Stadium) 19 AUG 2008
5th IAAF World Athletics Final 3 65.35 Stuttgart (Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion) 22 SEP 2007
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 12 60.77 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 28 AUG 2007
4th IAAF World Athletics Final 6 62.50 Stuttgart (Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion) 09 SEP 2006

Honours - Discus Throw (1.750kg)

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF/Coca Cola World Junior Championships 6 60.46 Kingston (NS), JAM 18 JUL 2002

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Updated 12 August 2016

Piotr Małachowski, Poland (Discus Throw)

Born: 7 June 1983, Żuromin

Lives: Warsaw


Coach: Witold Suski

All he ever wanted came true. He dreamed to settle down and have a family. He longed for the Polish anthem played for him after a great victory. He wished to break the 70 m barrier. He’s done it all. So the time came for new challenges. There’s still place in his life for the Olympic gold.

It all started in a small town, Bieżuń. In the summertime you can chase the ball here, in the winter play in the fire orchestra brigade. For Piotr, ball never seemed quite so appealing as the trumpet. He loved it and he was good. As a boy he travelled the country far and wide with the band. In 2008, when he was returning home from Beijing as an Olympic vice champion, he was greeted at Warsaw airport by his mates from the brass orchestra.

Many years earlier, in Bieżuń, the PE teacher decided to get his students familiar with the throws. He brought to the class a bunch of javelins, shots, discuses and hammers. And as the education started it focused as much on the throwing technique as on its safety. Not to get hurt or hurt somebody, that was a real challenge. Piotr wasn’t always successful, as one of his throws sent the discus straight into the car as his math teacher travelled to school. It hit the car door. Luckily, nothing serious happened and soon everybody involved forgot all about it. But Piotr didn't forget the discus. As he felt it in his hand for the first time, he knew it was his thing. He used to throw in the stadium or just in the field. With training, some results came. He went to his first competition – Ciechanów county youth olympics – and he won. That first victory decided his fate, as that was where he was spotted by Witold Suski who has been his coach ever since.

Many years earlier Suski, a factory worker back then, had started the athletic section in his town without any professional education. As his boss from the factory urged him
to, he prepared his transition from worker into coach in 1983. Suski learned on some German books and Russian magazines. He started to make his living as a coach and proved very soon he had an eye for talents. When he first saw Małachowski, he invited the 15-year old to train with him in Ciechanów. Piotr agreed and joined another greenhorn under Suski's wings. The other boy was tall, slim but according to Suski he was a shot putter material. His name was Tomasz Majewski, a double Olympic champion to be.

With the move to Ciechanów the real training started. But at first sight it didn’t seem very professional. The weight room was 3 by 5 metres, old and shabby. So for the warmup boys had to go outside, rain or shine. When it was snowing they were freezing, when it was raining they were wading through mud. Hard as in sounds, it was even harder for them – the awkward, anti-athletic types back then.

“People laughed at them when they tried to make their workout. Tomasz was thin, Piotr was chubby. They didn’t move well. But they tried very hard. I knew their assets, for Piotr it was quick legs,” Suski says. “Any coach dreams to train a boy like Piotr. When I look at him today, I’m still fascinated with how he managed his life and what he achieved. And it wasn’t easy for him. He came to me soon after his father died,” the coach adds.

The boys was well aware of all the mockery behind their backs. But there were some who tried to laugh at them straight in the face, a couple of local guys who made fun of them out loud during practice. Piotr told them to let go. They continued, so after practice he grabbed the loudest guy and picked him up with one hand. There was no beating involved and no need for it. The others ran away.

They went together to the training camp. “It was my first, but as Tomasz had started a year earlier, I looked up to him. He was a star. I thought he was a very experienced guy from a big city, but it turned out his village is way smaller than Bieżuń,” Małachowski says laughing.

After a couple of years all three of them – the coach and two promising students – moved to Warsaw, to train in the newly opened throwing facility. Big city meant big spending and the careers hadn’t taken off just yet. But big city meant also big possibilities. So Małachowski, a big guy as he became, started to work as a bouncer in disco clubs. He suspected his coach would disapprove so he didn’t tell him.

“Why upset him? It wasn’t good for me, but I had to make some money. It was just a brief time. I worked through the night, went back home at dawn, slept 3 hours, ran for practice and back to sleep,” he remembers.

it’s no wonder after beginnings like that, Majewski and Małachowski became friends. They share the same life philosophy and sense of humour. They like to watch funny Polish cartoons. “Years of constant life under pressure take their toll. Sometimes you have to do something to let the steam out,” Piotr explains. But they are good together not only in follies. Piotr is the godfather of Tomasz’ son. When Majewski was moving into a new apartment, he knew who to call for help. “He knew I’m good in weights,” Małachowski laughs.

The big moments also came together for them. Małachowski had his Olympic debut at 25, in Beijing. He scored 67.82m and only one rival was able to defeat him, Estonia’s Gerd Kanter, who sent the discus 1 metre further. Lithuania’s Virgilijus Alekna was third, 3 cm behind the Pole.

Soon after, the Olympic medallist heard his brass band at the airport. Family, friends and supporters rented two busses to get there from Bieżuń. They picked up their hero and brought him back home, where the fiesta continued.

Has anything changed after success? Outside the sport, not much as he stayed a humble guy very fond of his Bieżuń.

“I became a bit more self-confident. I believe more in myself. And now more often I receive invitations from authorities and schools. I go to meet kids. They ask the strangest things. If I have a wife and what women I see in my dreams,” Małachowski says.

He made a mistake admitting he wanted a family in one interview. After that, he started to get lots of offers from interested girls, sometimes including nude picture. His mail became full of that. “I was not interested in women who saw only the Olympic silver in me. When they approached me and asked If they recognised me well, I usually said they’re mistaken,” he admits.

Next season was bitter for the Olympic vice champion, as he ruptured the tendon in his index finger. Small injury meant big problems, as the index finger is the one that puts spin on a discus. He couldn’t train properly, his technique was unstable. Holding the discus was impossible, so he threw balls.

“When I’m healthy I do that as well. That’s an old Russian school, helps improving throwing force,” says Małachowski, who held his decision of going to the Berlin World Championships till the last moment. Finally, his hunger for competition prevailed.

He knew his possibilities were limited, so he went all in straight away. The first attempt of the final brought him an unbelievable result of 68.77m, 2 cm better than his own national record. Soon he made everybody forget about it when he scored whooping a 69.15m in the fifth attempt. The drama continued, as Robert Harting responded with a 69.43m throw to grab gold.

“Big pity I didn’t win, because I was ready for celebrating the championship. I even had a little performance prepared, Usain Bolt style. Except I was going to do everything the other way around, run from the finish line to the start,” he says.

Being “the number two guy” was not bad, but it bothered Małachowski, so in 2010 he finally moved ahead. He won the Diamond League Race and the European Championships in Barcelona. “It feel so good to see the number one next to my name, I hope it stick for longer. I always dreamt to win and hear my national anthem played for me. And I did it,” he said after the Barcelona victory.

During the competition he had Majewski as his die hard supporter. „He told me to bring gold or I don’t have any business to go back to our dormitory room. I had no choice but to win,” Małachowski laughs. He still waits to repeat a season as wonderful as 2010. The next time he climbed a podium of a big international event was no earlier than 2013. At the World Championships, in Daegu, he finished in ninth position. In the London Olympics, he was fifth – even worse, as he was prepared for big results. He was able to throw over 71m during a couple of practice sessions. But two weeks before the Olympics he tore his biceps and he was done with the practice. Bad luck.

Then in Moscow he finally managed to muster some result that brought him number two again. He wasn’t happy. “I was convinced I can put together a 70 metre throw in any conditions. And I was wrong. Now I think I wanted it too badly and I was too tense,” says Małachowski, who won silver in Moscow thanks to a 68.36m throw.

Big numbers time had happened in his life a couple of months earlier. On 8 June in Hengelo, he sent his discus flying to 71.84m, which is the seventh all time result in the discipline’s history. “It was my dream to break the 70 metre barrier. I’m happy with that and I don’t look any further, as I know what I’m capable of. After all, I’m not very big for a discus thrower,” he admits.

Why is it so hard to win a championships of any kind, even with such a result under his belt?

“Harting is better, simple as that. Maybe he’s mentally stronger or his technique is more stable. Alekna’s PB is unbelievable, almost 74 metres and he lost a couple of competitions as well. You need to have a good day, but sometimes it’s all about the wind. It’s best when it blows in your face. But big stadiums, where you fight for championships, are covered from the wind,” Małachowski explained.

2013 was a special year for him in many ways, as the newly crowned World vice champion became a father. His son Henryk Jerzy was born on 13 November. “I can’t say sport is less important now, but the family puts it into different perspective. I try not to be away from home so much that I used to,” Małachowski says. In 2014 he won the Diamond League Race again.

Aside from sport and family, he shares his time between the army and running. The first is his job, as he’s a professional soldier with the military rank of senior corporal. “I have to take part in the military athletics competitions but also I have some trainings, drill, shooting. And when I’m in the army unit I have to shave, which I hate. But each time I skip it they’re like: what’s on your face soldier?” Małachowski says.

Running is his passion, as it is for a growing crowd in Poland. “I met some guy, the passionate runner and he kept saying what kind of an athlete I am if I can’t run 10K. He made me try,” he admits. It took him a month to prepare. His debut time on 10-kilometre was 65 minutes. He promised to run half marathon, but it’s not an easy distance for a 130-kg man.

Three weeks before the World Championships in Beijing Małachowski jumped on top of the world list. He marked his start in the Throws Festival Kamila Skolimowska Memorial in Cetniewo with the result of 68.29m. He might have expected that his days as “the number two guy” are counted. He didn’t even seem to care about the absence of his biggest rival.

“I’m too old to be worried about who’s throwing next to me. Either it’s Robert Harting, his brother Christoph or somebody else, I don’t care. In Beijing I’m going to fight for the crown of the World champion and bring it to Poland,” Małachowski announced. And he did as promised. He showed up a little tense in the qualifications, crossing the required 65 metres in the last attempt. In the final he seemed more relaxed, leading the field from the first throw.

The winning result of 67.40m he mastered in the second attempt. Then he saw Robert Urbanek improving toward the end of the competition and taking bronze with 65.18 throw. So as the new World champion he also had another medal to celebrate, the one taken by his teammate – they both train together under the same coach. ”When I saw two Polish flags above one podium, I had a goose bumps on my skull,” coach Suski admitted.

“After a couple of silvers on the global stage I’m very happy to finally have this gold. With the great rivalry we’ve had with Robert Harding for two years, it is a little more difficult for me not to have him around, to stay motivated. But I see the generation shift in my discipline. There are so many young guys coming up. They challenge us exactly like me and Robert use to challenge older guys before,” the new World champion Małachowski explained. He concluded his season with the third victory in the Diamond League Race.

In spite of the threat Małachowski senses from the young generation, his dominance continued throughout 2016. Six years after his title from Barcelona, he became European champion in Amsterdam (67.06) for the second time. He sits atop the world list with two results: 68.15 and 68.10.

No wonder he goes to Rio de Janeiro Olympics with eyes set on gold. As a 33 year old, he has a splendid career under his belt, but the Olympic title is missing from it. His Olympic debut in 2008 was as a great one – he took silver in Beijing. London 2012 was unlucky; he performed way below expectations because of the biceps injury and finished fifth. In Rio de Janeiro he may take his legacy to a whole new level.

“I need to stand up against the young guys, they’re even better than last year. But I feel strong. It may well be my last chance to climb the Olympic podium. I’m not planning on calling it a career. Nobody wants to finish what he really enjoys. But I know I have to do all it takes to use this opportunity before my time passes,” he admits.

His coach isn’t quick to praise any of his athletes, but he realises Małachowski’s chances are big. “Looking at his results recently, I know he has it in him. He’s confident, he’s a fighter. His strong point was always his legs. Very fast. Electric heels, as I used to call it. But now he has another strong point on his side – he’s experienced,” the coach explains.

Young guys may have to wait a little longer. They had better beware.

Personal Best

Discus Throw: 71.84 (2013)

Yearly Progression

2000: 52.04; 2001: 54.19; 2002: 56.84; 2003: 57.83; 2004: 62.40; 2005: 64.74; 2006: 66.21 NR; 2007: 66.61 NR; 2008: 68.65 NR; 2009: 69.15 NR; 2010: 69.83 NR; 2011: 68.49; 2012: 68.94; 2013: 71.84 NR; 2014: 69.28; 2015: 68.29; 2016: 68.15

Career Highlights

2001 5th European Junior Championships (Grosseto) 52.37
2002 6th World Junior Championships (Kingston) (1.75kg) 60.46
2003 9th European U23 Championships (Bydgoszcz) 54.79
2005 2nd European U23 Championships (Erfurt) 63.99
2006 1st European Winter Throwing Cup (Tel Aviv) 65.01
2006 1st European Cup (Malaga) 66.21
2006 6th European Championships (Göteborg) 64.57
2006 6th World Athletics Final (Stuttgart) 62.50
2007 2nd European Winter Throwing Cup (Yalta) 65.06
2007 1st European Cup (Munich) 66.09
2007 12th World Championships (Osaka) 60.77
2007 3rd World Athletics Final (Stuttgart) 65.35
2007 1st World Military Games (Hyderabad) 65.87
2008 3rd European Cup (Annecy) 63.20
2008 2nd Olympic Games (Beijing) 67.82
2008 2nd World Athletic Final (Stuttgart) 66.07
2009 1st World Military Championships (Sofia) 64.94
2009 1st European Team Championships (Leiria) 66.24
2009 2nd Championships (Berlin) 69.15
2009 3rd World Athletic Final (Thessaloniki) 65.60
2010 2nd European Team Championships (Bergen) 65.55
2010 1st European Championships (Barcelona) 68.87
2010 1st Diamond League Race
2010 4th Continental Cup (Split) 64.20
2011 3rd European Team Championships (Stockholm) 61.66
2011 10th World Military Championships (Rio de Janeiro) 53.67
2011 9th World Championships (Daegu) 63.37
2012 5th Olympic Games (London) 67.19
2013 4th European Team Championships (Gateshead) 59.68
2013 2nd World Championships (Moscow) 68.36
2014 2nd European Team Championships (Braunschweig) 65.35
2014 4th European Championships (Zürich) 63.54
2014 1st Diamond League Race
2015 1st World Championships (Beijing) 67.40
2015 1st Diamond League Race
2015 2nd World Military Games (Mungyeong) 62.12
2016 1st European Championships (Amsterdam) 67.06

11 times Polish champion (2005-2010 and 2012-2016)
3 times Polish U23 champion (2003, 2004, 2005)


Prepared by Marta Mikiel and Rafał Kazimierczak for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2015-2016