Polish race walking great Robert Korzeniowski has been announced as World Athletics ambassador for the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Antalya 24 taking place on 21 April.

Korzeniowski is a four-time Olympic gold medallist who also claimed three world titles and became a world record-breaker during his highly decorated career.

He now heads to the Turkish coastal city of Antalya where the current generation of race walk talent will compete for titles and Olympic places.

“I am convinced that our Turkish hosts will delight us not only with their beautiful hospitality, but they will also show their excellent sports side,” said Korzeniowski, who claimed 20km silver at the World Race Walking Cup in 2004.

After winning his first Olympic gold in the 50km race walk in Atlanta in 1996, Korzeniowski became the first athlete to successfully defend the title in Sydney four years later, also making history as the first athlete to win a 20km and 50km race walk double at the same Olympic Games.

He won his third consecutive Olympic 50km race walk title in Athens in 2004 and by that point he was the world record-holder, having clocked 3:36:03 to win his third world title in Paris in 2003 after getting gold in Athens in 1997 and Edmonton in 2001.

Having experienced great global success during his own career, Korzeniowski is looking forward to watching the world’s best attempt to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Not only does the programme in Antalya include senior 20km races and U20 10km events, but it also features the marathon race walk mixed relay for the first time. Teams of one man and one woman will complete the marathon distance in legs of 12.195km (man), 10km (woman), 10km (man) and 10km (woman). The first 22 teams to finish in Antalya will automatically qualify for the marathon race walk mixed relay at the Olympics in Paris. Up to five of those first 22 teams can be a second team from the same country.

“I am very curious how the mixed relays will proceed in terms of qualifying for the Olympics. This will be a very exciting and most important pre-Olympic test,” said Korzeniowski. “I believe that the marathon distance of the relay and its mixed nature perfectly fit into the new trends in athletics.

“I am also waiting to see the U20 athletes in action, because they will be responsible for the Olympic future of walking in LA 2028 and Brisbane 2032.”

Since his retirement from international competition, Korzeniowski has gone on to craft a successful career in broadcasting and business. He created the Robert Korzeniowski Foundation and organises world-class race walking meetings.

“I must admit that instead of commentating on the relay, I would like to try my hand at it myself, for example with my sister Sylwia with whom I took part in the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004,” Korzeniowski added.

“Promoting walking as a healthy, lifelong activity and educating the next generations of sports walking champions is my life mission.”

World Athletics

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