London 2012

Press release

Volleyball is a family affair for Poland's beach star Grzegorz Fijalek

Grzegorz Fijalek (in the foreground) and partner Mariusz Prudel have qualified for the 1/4 finals of the beach volleyball tournament at Horse Guards Parade to play there the reigning world champions Alison/Emanuel of Brazil

London, Great Britain, August 6, 2012 – Beach volleyball is a family affair in Poland. Grzegorz Fijalek has found its way to the 1/4 finals of the Olympic tournament in London with partner Mariusz Frudel, while his brother Lukasz is a trainer working for Poland’s beach volleyball national team. The local media in Poland are devoting very much attention to the success story of this family, hoping that more glory may follow in London.
The parents of Grzegorz and Lukasz Fijalek, Marek and Barbara, as well as their respective wives, Jola and Anna, are proud and happy their family members got the right to represent Poland at the Olympics and are doing so well there. 

“I could even not dream about having my sons at the Olympics” says mum Barbara, as she stresses their kids were captured by the spirit and appeal of volleyball at a very tender age.
“My four sons (Lukasz and Grzegorz have got two more brothers, Maciek born in 1982 and 20-year old Kuba) used to play volleyball all day long and anywhere they got the chance to do it, even if they often did not have the right facilities for that. They used the main gate to our house or we used to set up a net in our garden, but quite often our windows were broken by their smashes. Once the summer holidays were over, let’s say during the winter season, they started playing indoor using a scarf that was hung in the frame of a door or through the stools and the next victims of their spikes and smashes were our lamps. They have broken so much stuff at home. So once in a while I tried to take the ball away, or hide it, but then it was Grzegorz who searched for old socks and fixed them around the ball by using some tape, playing volleyball while walking, standing, sitting or lying on the floor” recalls Barbara Fijalek.   

Marek and Barbara Fijalek used to play volleyball in local clubs and they actually taught their sons the ABC of the sport. “They actually learned the way to set the ball properly from their dad” adds mum Barbara. “Grzegorz played volleyball in his home town, Andrychow, up to the age of 14, being coached by Tomasz Rupik and Dorota Wlodarczyk".

Grzegorz was even afraid, as a little boy, he probably was not going to grow enough to turn into a successful volleyball player. He used to question aunt Krysia: “If my mum is tall but my dad is a little bit shorter, do you think I will be able to play volleyball?”
Grzegorz stands nowadays at 187 cm and he probably would have played volleyball for the rest of his life but he eventually lacked the height imposed by the evolution of the sport. “He eventually opted for playing beach volleyball and he does not regret this choice” says wife Jola. “They have been playing professionally with Mariusz Prudel for the past six years and they enjoy full support of the Polish Volleyball Federation as well as of their sponsors. Pretty much changed in their lives since they got a new coach, Martin Olejnak”. 

The assistant of Olejnak is Grzegorz’s eldest brother, Lukasz, who used to play volleyball as well and coach in Kety. “He was a kind of guru for his youngest brothers as they all listened to his instructions and advices; I assume this is the case also in London” singles out their mum Barbara. All of their matches are followed on TV by the complete family and volleyball remains the main item they all touch upon as the family gets together for reunions, holidays or other celebrations. “There is no chance to escape from this because all members of the family are involved in the sport” stresses Lukasz’s wife, Anna. “Anyway, it is not just about talking, we also play some friendly matches, girls against boys, in our garden”.

Their quarterfinal match will be followed on a huge screen set up in the main square of Fijalek’s home town, Andrychow. “It would be fabulous if they could win a medal” says Bartosz, the 8-year old son of Lukasz and the most passionate supporter of the duo. “I think my uncle will get a medal at the Olympics” says the little boy.

Grzegorz was injured before the Olympics and missed quite many tournaments of the 2012 season, so any result will be a success for the Polish duo. “Mariusz (Prudel) is like our fifth son and before they traveled to London, I told them that we will still love them regardless of their final ranking at the Olympics”.

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