WHEN one talks about Anita Wlodarczyk, the first name that comes to everybody’s mind is that of Kamila Skolimowska, her idol.
Skolimowska shot to fame at the 2000 Sydney Games where, as a 17-year-old, she became the youngest Olympic hammer throw champion. But her life took a cruel turn as, nine years later, she died of pulmonary embolism, the blockage of an artery in the lungs by a substance that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream, during a training session in Portugal.
The duo shared a special bond and Wlodarczyk credits all her success to Skolimowska.
No wonder, Wlodarczyk uses the shoes and gloves that belonged to Skolimowska while competing, as a tribute to her compatriot.
And as Wlodarczyk trained at the ASPIRE Academy’s indoor athletics track in Doha, there was more reason for her to remember Skolimowska.
“The first time both of us competed together outside Poland was at the Qatar Super Grand Prix in 2008. She won gold and I took silver. I can never forget that in my life,” recalls Wlodarczyk.
The world champion thinks of her friend every time she enters the arena and the bigger the occasion, the more the sentiments associated.
“When I entered the Olympic stadiums at London and Rio, I asked Skolimowska to be with me. I won the medal thanks to her and I wholeheartedly dedicated them to her,” said Wlodarczyk in glowing memory of her friend.
Wlodarczyk takes care of the Skolimowska Foundation in the latter’s home town of Cetniewo. And she is also a regular at the annual Kamila Skolimowska Memorial Throws Festival, where she first broke the 80M barrier in 2015. Wlodarczyk also set her current world mark at the event this year.
“Skolimowska used to say she would call it quits after London Games. But life took a different turn. Her presence is there with me always in the form of her shoes and gloves,” an emotional Wlodarczyk concluded.