Bydgoszcz is a city which, apart from culture, is usually associated with sports. The city is the seat of a range of sport clubs and institutions that are well known in Poland and all over the world. Various sports facilities such as the regatta course in Brdyujście, "Łuczniczka" sports hall and the "Zawisza" track and field stadium have witnessed many historic sport events. This is the home city and a training location of many great champions of Poland, Europe, the world, and winners at Olympic Games.
A few words about history
Positive associations with sport in Bydgoszcz are a result of the achievements of many generations of inhabitants of Bydgoszcz. It is also because of those who almost 100 years ago, after the return of Bydgoszcz to the Polish State, were full of patriotic ideas and founded the first societies, organizations and clubs. Sports activities were combined with patriotic education, not just the so-called physical education, but they also taught tradition, history and respect for patriotic ideas. Until 1920, sport was the domain of Germans living here. The city had its football clubs, gym societies, a tennis club and the most well known rowing association of its times - Frithjof. The only counterweight to the dominance of Germans in this field in the city was the Gymnastic Society Sokół (Falcon) that had been functioning in Bydgoszcz since 1886. It propagated hiking, biking and organised performances of gymnastics.
On the water
On 16 March 1920, the Tryton Rowing Society was formed, soon it was renamed as the Bydgoszcz Rowing Association (BTW) and it was this association that started the new Polish history of sport in the city, and it still continues to shape it today. Thanks to BTW, Bydgoszcz became one of the main centres of rowing in Poland. At the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928 a four with coxswain from BTW won a bronze medal, the first ever Olympic medal in the history of Polish rowing. After the war the club's greatest athlete was Teodor Kocerka, two-time Olympic bronze medallist in Helsinki and Rome, 25 times the champion of Poland, championships medallist and two-time winner of the Diamond oars for winning the royal regatta on the Thames. In April 1920, on the initiative of the Society of Terminators, that was operating at the parish church of the Holy Trinity (Świętej Trójcy), a one section sports club "Gwiazda" was founded. It soon started expanding with new disciplines like: basketball, fencing, canoeing and wrestling. Here, their careers began: Stefan Majewski – footballer and coach, participant in the World Championships in Spain and Mexico, Marian Sypniewski – foil fencer, two-time Olympic medallist, world champion of 1978, Daniela Walkowiak - canoeist, competed three times at the Olympic Games, in Rome 1960 won the bronze medal in the K-2, multiple national champion, also competed in the Zawisza Bydgoszcz. There is "Gwiazda" marina located near the "Gwiazda" stadium. The marina was opened in 2009 and it meets the European standard for such facilities. Being located on the Bydgoszcz Canal in the vicinity of the historic locks, the marina offers everything enthusiasts of water sports need for boating, including mooring spaces equipped with platforms with electrical sockets, car parks and full sanitary facilities. It is worth noting at this point that, in the city centre, on Mill Island, another modern marina together with a hotel was oficially opened in 2013. The Regional Rowing Association LOTTO-Bydgostia-WSG-Bank Pocztowy (RTW), continues the achievements of the Railway Rowing Club and is a true power in this sport. RTW is a 22-times Polish Team Champion. For the last 18 years (since 1993) it has been continuously, successfully defending this title. This result is a sensational result in Europe. The most famous athlete of the club is Robert Sycz – two-time Olympic gold medallist in the lightweight double at Sydney and Athens (with Tomasz Kucharski – AZS Gorzow). Bartłomiej Pawełczak and Miłosz Bernatajtys in the four without coxswain won the lightweight Olympic silver medal in Beijing.
On the track
Polonia Bydgoszcz, founded in May 1920, was at the beginning a football club. Only later it was joined by hockey players, athletes, tennis players, cyclists and speedway riders. Feliks Więcek, in everyday life a journeyman butcher, in 1928 won the first Race Around Poland (today's Tour de Pologne). No wonder that in the Sport Review Plebiscite for that year, he found himself in third place. On the other hand Marian Norkowski - the popular "Mala", the most famous footballer of Polonia, participant of the Olympics in Rome, was the top scorer and the league - in 1960, when he scored 17 goals. Polish hockey players in the 50's and 60's, won the silver and bronze medals in the championships. Juniors in 1966 were the best in their age category in the country. But the splendid history of the hockey section ended, like many similar ones, at the turn of 1989/90. Another great sportsman from Bydgoszcz was the tennis-player, Henryk Drzymalski, often referred to as the second, after Wojciech Fibak. In 1974 he was the first – he defeated his great rival and friend in the final of the Championship of Poland. However, the most splendid successes were achieved by speedway riders, they won Team and Individual medals in the Polish Championships, both among seniors and juniors. Mieczyslaw Połukard was the first Pole in history in the final of the Individual World Championships. "Polonia" is the home club of the most outstanding rider in the history of Polish speedway -Tomasz Gollob . Individual and team world champion and a multiple medallist of Poland. Certainly one of the greatest athletes in history that was born in Bydgoszcz.
The only Queen
Athletics - The Queen of Sports – has also ruled for years in Bydgoszcz. One of the honorary citizens of Bydgoszcz is Teresa Ciepły - a sprinter and a hurdler , Olympic bronze medallist from Rome, gold and silver from Tokyo was elected an honorary citizen of Bydgoszcz. The patron of the sports complex "Zawisza" is Zdzisław Krzyszkowiak – Olympic champion of Rome, European champion, world record holder in the 3,000 m steeplechase. These two people, great personalities of the world of sport have set the path for generations of athletes from Bydgoszcz. The Military Sports Group which was established by CWZS "Zawisza" include pole vaulters - Łukasz Michalski and Paweł Wojciechowski – the world champion, track-and-field athlete Marcin Dróżdż, middle-distance runner Marcin Lewandowski, hurdler Dominik Bochenek and sprinter Marika Popowicz. All of them already with medal-winning achievements at the European or world championships. The Military Sports Group CWZS Zawisza also gathers athletes in other sports: rowing, canoeing – world champion Piotr Siemionowski, shooting and weightlifting – world champion Marcin Dołęga.
It is not just the successes of individual athletes that the inhabitants of Bydgoszcz have been observing in their city. Since the late 90s the city has been the organizer of many major sporting events, especially in athletics. One could list: Junior World Championships under 18 in 1999, the European Championships under 23, SPAR European Cup, World Junior Championships in Athletics, the World Championships in Cross Country (twice as a first city) and European Athletics Festival. The ideally suited for athletics Zawisza stadium and a great atmosphere in the stands foster the achievement of excellent sporting results. Zawisza Stadium is a complex of modern sport facilities, which, after a thorough reconstruction in the years 2007-2008 meets the standards of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the international football federations (FIFA and UEFA). The stands can accommodate over 20 thousand spectators. The building under the new grandstand houses conference rooms, restaurant, wellness facilities, as well as the Gallery of Bydgoszcz Sport. Just in the last decade the Zawisza stadium has witnessed a few matches of the national team. It is worth mentioning just a few of these significant events: the football match with Finland in 2006 in the World Cup qualifiers and friendly meetings with Romania, Ireland, Greece and Canada. Bydgoszcz has also hosted twice Poland's Football Cup finalists.
For many years, Bydgoszcz has been the organizer of international speedway events. The Polonia stadium has been the location of the Polish Individual Championship, since 1998 the Grand Prix Individual World Championships and World Team Championships and since 1982 the Criterion of Aces of Polish Speedway Leagues. In 2012 Bydgoszcz was the organizer of the semi-finals of the World Team Speedway Cup with the participation of the Polish national team. Polonia Bydgoszcz team has for many years held its league matches in Polonia stadium.
Since 1992 Bydgoszcz has hosted the Great Rowing Regatta for the Brda Cup. The competitions have been gaining prestige each year, and among the participants there are not only the best rowers from Germany, Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine, but also the legendary teams from Cambridge and Oxford. The Great Rowing Regatta attracts crowds of people to the city centre. Some are supporters, some are just curious of this extraordinary race - rowing eights with coxswain (www.wielkawioslarska.pl). However, it is worth remembering that the rowing and canoeing regattas in Bydgoszcz are associated primarily with the regatta course in Brdyujście, which is the place of many important competitions nationwide. It is a training spot for Beata Mikołajczyk – Olympic silver medallist from Beijing.
Sport in Bydgoszcz does not only imply competitions of professionals. It is also recreation cultivated by both locals and visitors to the city on the Brda. Sport lovers are particularly fond of the Forest Park of Culture and Recreation "Myślęcinek." It is a place that indeed has a lot to offer to visitors. "Myślęcinek" is primarily a large park with bike routes, paths for walkers and skaters, a climbing wall and a golf course, wakepark.
Many years of experience, professionalism, great results of preparation and the excellent final effect of sports events have met with appreciation, not only from the participants and invited guests from around the world. Bydgoszcz has been recognized also in the 76th Sport Review and by Polish Television. The city received a statuette of a Champion and the title of the "Sports Event Host of the Year, Poland 2010". The prize is not only a distinction, but also an obligation. The city looks to the future by expanding the sport infrastructure and by submitting applications for the organisation of major sports events in subsequent years. We should believe that Bydgoszcz as befits a good host will cope with new challenges well.
The Sport Gallery in Bydgoszcz
The Sport Gallery in Bydgoszcz offers an unusual journey through time and space and gives the opportunities to experience the emotions and memories from the past. The Sport Gallery in Bydgoszcz is managed by The ZAWISZA Sports Complex