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The European Games are coming soon. There are 86 days left until the biggest multidisciplinary event of the year. In Tarnow, which will host the badminton competition, the Polish International Championships were held. Arena Jaskolka welcomed many athletes, who competed fiercely for laurels for five days. Along with the Polish team, Jacek Hankiewicz – coach of the Women’s Singles Games of the Elite National Team and a participant in the 1992 European Games – was present in Tarnow and shared his opinions on the situation of Polish and world badminton.

Coach, we are hosting the Polish International Badminton Championships in Tarnow. The event functions under the name Orlen Polish Open. How are your impressions?

– Very good. The hall is beautiful, modern and well adapted for such a tournament. Intentionally, our association wanted to organize the event here because the European Games and competition in our discipline will be held here in June. It is good to get acquainted with the hall beforehand. We are close to the hotel, the conditions are really very good.

This is the first chance for local fans to get acquainted with the sport before the June event. What do you say to those who negatively approach the very idea of the European Games, and badminton itself causes a smile rather than excitement. Many such comments appear online. How do you convince fans of the sport?

– I have behind me one European Games in Baku in 2015. The atmosphere at the badminton finals was capital, the hall was filled. Now in Poland there will be an even higher level. The European top players, who are also among the world’s top players, will come to us. This proves that badminton will be at the highest level. The hall is ideal for watching, there is very good transparency. Fans will be satisfied, so welcome to the fastest racket sport in the world.

For the first time I have the opportunity to see badminton live. The first impression – incredibly fast pace and not even for a moment you can look away from the darts. A completely different feeling than, for example, in front of the screen. I could not say that the gameplay is boring.

– If we talk about the dart itself, then in badminton the world record is 490 km/h with a smash. There is no other racquet sport in which a dart, ball or other equipment that is thrown from the hand or with a racket moves so fast. It is a very fast game, and sometimes watching on TV we are not able to register it, and to watch such a game live is certainly something interesting and enjoyable.

Badminton has been an Olympic sport since 1992. The European Games are a chance for many athletes to go to Paris in 2024?

– Yes, of course. Therefore, every athlete will want to show their best in Tarnow to earn a trip to Paris.

It is then a guarantee of the level at the Polish event.

– Yes. In a way, the European Games are replacing the European Championships for us, and everyone is coming to this event. No one who is at the top of the European top will be missing. That’s why it’s worth following badminton in Tarnow.

How then are the preparations for the biggest multidisciplinary event of the year? Despite the fact that now the Orlen Polish Open tournament is taking place, surely your thoughts are already on June.

– Of course we are. As the host of the event, we have the comfortable situation that in each game, whether it is a single, mixed or double game, we have guaranteed the start of our athletes in each. We are calmly preparing for the start, we have a very young, ambitious team. We will decide who from this young team will be in the best shape and will present themselves at the European Games. We don’t have the pressure that the upcoming starts will decide whether we go to the event or not. This is a great comfort that allows us to prepare calmly. We have a declaration of starts so now it remains to focus on calm training.

Coach, which force of world badminton is Poland?

– It’s hard to say. We have been in a period of rebuilding our team for several years. A big generational hole has been created after our great players, who we had before and were at the top of Europe and the world. We need a few years to have a chance to knock on those doors at the highest level like our great athletes from years ago like Robert Mateusiak, Nadia Zięba, Przemysław Wacha, Michał Łogosz or Kamila Augustyn did. We are a lot short of these athletes, but we have a group of very young athletes who can also achieve a lot. However, time is needed for this.

Tickets for the competition at the European Games can be purchased HERE.