Robert Korzeniowski discovered race walking at the age of 15, thanks to his sports teacher. In the early 1990s, he moved to northern France, where he had better training conditions. Robert Korzeniowski is a great ambassador for his sport, always keen to take part in mass sport events to promote race walking and to help young athletes. His physical and human qualities make him a true champion, inside or outside the stadium.
First Olympic title at 28
At his first Olympic Games, Barcelona in 1992, “Korzen” was disqualified from the 50km when he was in second place – because the rules insist that the walker must always have one of his feet in contact with the ground. He then dropped out of the 20km race. But these setbacks did not damage his motivation.
He arrived at the 1996 Games in 1996 with a bronze medal won in the previous World Championships. In the damp heat of Georgia, the Polish walker was 16 seconds ahead after 50km of walking, earning him his first Olympic title at the age of 28. He then finished eighth in the 20km.
An unequalled exploit
The Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000 were the setting for an unprecedented performance. In seven days, Robert Korzeniowski won both the 20 and 50km events. In the 50km, he finished 1 minute 18 seconds ahead of the runner-up, winning his second gold medal. The 20km race was hotly contested, and it almost took a sprint finish for Robert to beat Mexico’s Noe Hernández by four seconds, benefiting from the disqualification of another Mexican, Bernardo Segura, who had been leading. On the same occasion, he beat the Olympic record for the distance and became the first ever athlete to win the 20km and 50km at the same edition of the Games.
For his fourth Olympic participation, in 2004 in Athens, Robert Korzeniowski was accompanied by his faithful coach, Kryzsztof Kisiel. With the sun beating down and temperatures of 24°C in the shade, the 50km event got under way. Focusing on his technique to maintain an efficient rhythm without overstretching himself, Robert progressively built up a lead. He won in 3h38'46", more than four minutes ahead of his nearest rival. He thereby won his fourth gold medal and achieved an unprecedented hat-trick by retaining the title he had first won in Atlanta, eight years before.