Polish stars confirmed for the inaugural Irena Szewinska Memorial in Bydgoszcz

Justyna Swiety-Ersetic
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Poland's Justyna Swiety-Ersetic will compete in the 400m at the Irena Szewinska Memorial in Bydgoszcz on 12 June

Reigning European 400m champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic will compete in her specialist event at the Irena Szewinska Memorial, a European Athletics Outdoor Classic Permit Meeting, which takes place at the famous Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium in Bydgoszcz on 12 June.

The meeting has taken place annually under its previous alias of the Bydgoszcz Cup since 2001 but the event has since been renamed to pay tribute to Poland’s greatest ever athlete who passed away last June at the age of 72.

Initial details of the meeting were revealed at a press conference in Bydgoszcz - the host city of the European Athletics Team Championships Super League from 9-11 August - earlier this week which was attended by dignitaries including the president of the Polish Athletics Association Henryk Olszewski and Janusz Szewinski, the husband of Irena.

“Throughout Poland, Irena Szewinska gave us so many great emotions. I would like to thank Janusz Szewinski for allowing us to organise this Memorial in Bydgoszcz. It is good that we have an opportunity to remember Irena. The Memorial will also be a test before the European Team Championships and it will certainly be a magnet for attracting fans,” said Olszewski.

Szewinska remains one of the greatest athletes of all-time, winning seven Olympic medals across her five Olympic appearances. She remains the only athlete in history - male or female - to have broken world records in the 100m, 200m and 400m. Szewinska also set a world 400m record of 49.75 in Bydgoszcz in 1976 and was named an honorary citizen of the city in 2005.

“Irena was associated with this city so I am glad that a Memorial in her name will be in Bydgoszcz, especially in the centenary year of the Polish Athletics Association,” said Janusz Szewinski.

A plaque in Szewinska’s honour will also be unveiled at the Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium ahead of the Irena Szewinska Memorial.

The programme begins with the women’s 100m and women’s 400m - two of Szewinska’s specialist events - which has also attracted European indoor 60m champion Ewa Swoboda in the 100m and multiple relay medallist Iga Baumgart-Witan who will face Swiety-Ersetic in the 400m.

“I am very happy that a competition devoted to Irena will take place in my city. I love to compete in Bydgoszcz and to compete in an event named after an outstanding Polish athlete will be an honour,” said Baumgart-Witan.

European champion Wojciech Nowicki and reigning three-time world champion Pawel Fajdek will both compete in the hammer with European champion Michal Haratyk and European silver medallist Konrad Bukowiecki are both due to compete in the shot put.