Two legendary Polish athletes and two gold medals

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On this day, two amazing achievements took place. First, 94 years ago, Halina Konopacka won the first gold medal for Poland at the Amsterdam 1928 Olympics. Also, on this day, 90 years ago, the legendary Polish athlete Janusz Kusocinski won the Olympic gold medal in the 10000-metre run in Los Angeles.

 

Halina Konopacka was a Polish athlete. She won the discus throw event at the 1928 Summer Olympics, breaking her world record and becoming the first Polish Olympic champion. 

 

While studying at the Faculty of Philology of Warsaw University she also took up skiing and athletics but soon abandoned winter sports because the training facilities were too far from her home. In 1926 she set her first world record in the discus throw, after only a few months of training, which was followed by two more records in 1927 and 1928. 

 

She retired from athletics in 1931 but continued to do sports recreationally, including skiing, tennis and car racing. After that, she became a writer and poet. She also immigrated to the United States after World War II. 

 

Janusz Kusociński was also a Polisha athelete. He took up athletics in 1928 after joining the sports club “Sarmata.” Just about a month before the Los Angeles Olympics, Kusociński ran a new world record in the 3000 m (8:18.8) and later that year, he set a new unofficial world record in running 4 miles in a time of 19:02.6. At the Olympics, Kusociński won a close battle against the Finns Volmari Iso-Hollo and Lasse Virtanen in the 10 000 m, with a world season’s best time of 30:11.4.

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After finishing second in the first European Championships at Turin in the 5000 m in 1934, Kusociński decided to retire from athletics but made a comeback in 1939 by winning the 10 000 m at the Polish National Championships. 

 

He volunteered for the Polish army after the Germans attacked Poland. Kusocinski was arrested by Gestapo on March 26, 1940, and then executed three months later in Palmiry, near Warsaw. 

 

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