She has been lauded as the poster girl of the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships, but Sopot-born pole vault Anna Rogowska says that her vast experience will help her focus on the task in hand this weekend in front of her home crowd.
Last month, the 2009 world champion produced her highest vault for three years when setting a world-leading 4.76m at the Flanders Indoor meeting in Gent.
It was the perfect confidence-booster ahead of Sopot for Rogowska, who took the silver medal at the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships and the bronze at the 2010 edition.
“Certainly taking part in a major competition in Poland is something that puts a lot of pressure on me,” Rogowska said at the pre-event press conference. “But I’ve been competing for many years, so I’ve developed ways of dealing with pressure.
“I’ve been given an opportunity this weekend to win a gold medal in front of Polish spectators, so I hope to make the most of it because I might not get that same chance for a long time.
“Of course nobody gives away medals based on season’s bests; my 4.76m gives me some hope, but it doesn’t guarantee a medal. The qualifying standard was 4.71m, so there are many contenders and many athletes with similar results, so I expect a hard fight.”
“I already have silver and bronze medals from the World Indoor Championships, so my aim is to win gold.”
Naturally, Poland has sent its biggest ever team to this edition of the World Indoor Championships. Aside from Rogowska, there are many other medal hopes too.
Double Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski goes in the shot, while middle-distance runners Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski will be gunning for a medal in the 800m. Polish record-holder Kamila Licwinko could also surprise in the high jump.
But Rogowska diplomatically declined to highlight any individual team-mates as medal contenders.
“It’s difficult for me to mention all of the Polish athletes who could potentially win a medal here, because I wouldn’t want to forget anyone,” she said. “But I think each and every athlete dreams of making the podium in front of Polish supporters.
“I believe I speak for every Polish athlete when I say that this is the peak of the year for us. We will try our best not to let ourselves down, and we hope to have many great performances to share with the supporters in the crowd.”
The last time Rogowska stood on the podium at a major championship was at last year’s European Indoor Championships when she took silver on count-back from Holly Bleasdale. This time, she hopes that luck will be on her side if such a scenario was to arise again.
“I think every athlete takes part to win and to get the best results, so if a similar situation happens, I hope I’ll be the one to win and take gold.”
So too will thousands of Polish fans.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF