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Oktawia Nowacka is the only Polish woman to stand on the podium of the Olympic Games – in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro she won the bronze medal. This year, the most important event for her will be the European Games Krakow – Małopolska 2023. ‘This is where you can get an Olympic qualification,’ she stresses.

Next year, 36 pentathletes will compete in Paris. The road to the french capital goes through, among others, Krakow, because the competition in the facilities of the Academy of Physical Education will have the rank of European championships. This means that eight places for the Olympic Games will be up for grabs here. So there is something to fight for.

Nowacka is an experienced pentathlete and, by her own admission, her career in this sport is slowly coming to an end. Her biggest success is a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Among polish athletes, apart from Nowacka, only four men stood on the Olympic podium. The gold medals were won by Janusz Pyciak-Peciak (1976), Arkadiusz Skrzypaszek (1992) and the team in Barcelona (Skrzypaszek, Maciej Czyżowicz, Dariusz Goździak). The Pole was also world champion (team) and twice bronze medallist in the relay. She has also won a silver medal at the European Championships.

As is often the case in modern pentathlon, she is a professional soldier with the rank of corporal. – Modern pentathlon was introduced to the Games by the founder of the modern Olympic idea, Pierre de Coubertin. His idea was to make a discipline for the best possible soldier, this soldier had to ride on horseback, wield white weapons, firearms, swim and run, i.e. one who could cope with any conditions,” explains Nowacka in an interview on the website of the COS. “Initially, pentathlon was trained only by men and only by military personnel. With time, civilians were admitted to the discipline, and many years later, women too. At the moment, it is a completely civilian sport, but it has its roots in the military.”

Nowacka has been preparing for the European Games at, among others, the COS in Spala, Cetniewo and Wałcz. She has not yet competed in an international competition this year. Last year, with Natalia Dominiak, Łukasz Gutkowski and Kamil Kasperczak, she won silver medals at the European Championships in the mixed relay.

“For this year, the main goal is the European Championships, which will be held in Krakow as part of the European Games. This will be the first chance to get a direct Olympic qualification, so this is the target event I am preparing for,” Nowacka emphasises. “The second goal is health, that’s the most important thing for me, because I know that if I’m fit, I won’t have to worry about results. For now, I’m struggling a bit with my injury, I hope to heal quickly and get back to full training. After the Games, I will set myself further goals.

The pentathlon consists of fencing, swimming, equestrian (jumping) and running with shooting. During the European Games, competition at the AWF facilities in Krakow will begin on 25 June and last until 1 July.