For Polish speed skater Zbigniew Brodka, participating in Beijing 2022 is like a dream come true, as it will be the Olympic gold medalist’s fourth Winter Games appearance.
Brodka claimed the men’s 1,500m title in Sochi 2014, becoming the first Pole to receive a gold medal in this discipline.
In October 2019, Brodka decided to suspend his skating career and work as a fireman. After two years, he returned to the track to fight for a ticket to the 2022 Winter Games and eventually made it. Beijing will be the Polish veteran’s fourth and final Olympic performance.
“Of course, my fourth Winter Olympics (appearance) is like a dream come true as I’m almost 38,” Brodka told Xinhua in a recent interview.
“I realize that I cannot physically achieve more. I have already won the Olympic gold, and it’s proof that I climbed to the top. During Beijing 2022, I would like to say ‘goodbye’ to the fans,” he explained.
The 37-year-old has decided to end his skating career in China as Beijing has a special meaning for him.
“After I had retired I thought about restarting the career and ending it in Beijing. For me it’s natural to say goodbye when I’m on the track,” the Pole claimed. “I started my great adventure at the youth world championship in Beijing. That competition, which took place in 2003, was exceptional for me. It was my first such big event. I remember it as an awesome experience.”
In Beijing 2022, Brodka will start a mass race. He believes he will stand on the podium, but the Pole doesn’t feel any pressure to take the medal.
“I’ve managed to stand on the Olympic podium, so in Beijing, I don’t have to prove anything. At the Winter Olympics, I will race in a competition in which each participant could win a medal. It would be nice to have a surprise, but I don’t expect too much”, he admitted.
The performance at the Winter Games will be emotional for the Polish athlete.
“The era in which I compete at the highest level will be over soon. For sure the last race will be a hard moment for me but I’m very happy that I could compete on the highest level for nearly 20 years,” Brodka concluded.