The first time I saw Polish shot-putter Tomasz Majewski, I couldn’t quite believe it. Shot-putters all seem to be either squat and hulking, or gigantic… and hulking. Here was a guy – closer to 7 feet tall than 6 feet – relatively lanky, and pony-tailed. An elegant Geoff Capes. Quite a sight! But he’s not just an unusual spectacle: Majewski is a performer par excellence, a “matchplayer” who produces it on the big occasions – indeed who only seems to produce his best on the very biggest of occasions. So, 2 days ago at London 2012 he defended his gold medal in the Olympic shot put, the first man go do so since 1956. And yet, impressive though his record has been, Majewski has never won a World Championships, or even a European, and had not won a major title since 2009. His defence of his Olympic title is an astounding achievement by any standard, and for Poland – a country with 2 golds so far and not expected to win many more – he must now have cemented his national hero status. And with a degree in political science, don’t bet against him ending up an MP, or some such. His quotes on retaining his title are as memorable as his physical appearance:
“Americans got a bit of a problem for the Olympics the last 20 years,” Majewski said. “They’ve got great guys, great athletes, but they can’t win gold in the Olympics. Sorry.”
“It’s great. Great story that I defend my title. What can I say? I do it again.”
Indeed he did. And who’s to say The Elegant Shot-putter can’t do it yet one more time, in 2016?