ZMARZLIK EXCITED FOR SWC RETURN IN 2023

PAUL BURBIDGE

Polish icon Bartosz Zmarzlik believes the FIM Speedway World Cup is “the best event for speedway” as the iconic tournament returns at Torun’s Marian Rose Motoarena in 2023.

Zmarzlik hopes to line up for his country at the 2022 FIM Speedway of Nations in Danish seaside city Esbjerg this July. But 2023 is also set to be a huge summer for the sport as the SWC makes a very popular return.

Poland won the Ove Fundin Trophy eight times in 13 seasons from 2005 to 2017. Zmarzlik was part of their most recent title-winning sides in 2016 and 2017, and he can’t wait for the competition’s comeback in July 2023.

He said: “I remember winning two World Cups and for me, it is the best event for speedway, and also for the riders. It is a great feeling to race in the World Cup and I am waiting for this.”

While the Poles will enjoy home advantage at the Marian Rose Motoarena, Zmarzlik believes one of the sport’s fairest race tracks will guarantee a very competitive week of racing.

He said: “Torun is a good place for the World Cup because all the riders from speedway have been there many times. I think everyone has the same chance.”

As well as winning a fantastic five FIM Speedway Grand Prix rounds on his way to the SpeedwayGP silver medal in 2021, Zmarzlik took second place in the SON with the Polish team. The Poles were stunned by hosts Great Britain, who won the Grand Final in Manchester 5-4 to lift their first world title since 1989.

This left the sport’s biggest nation facing more heartbreak in the SON. The Poles have reached the rostrum every year since the competition launched in 2018, but are yet to claim top spot, winning three silvers and one bronze.

It is often argued that the SWC format best suits Poland – a nation with no shortage of top riders. Only three riders can be selected for the SON – with one of them serving as the reserve – whereas four can be picked for the SWC, along with an under-21 reserve rider.

Zmarzlik knows competition for team places will be fierce when the SWC returns, so he is glad Polish team manager Rafal Dobrucki will be the man to decide who lines up in Torun.

He said: “I think this is a problem for Rafal. I just want to score good points for Poland and for me. This is my plan and we will see what happens.”

Zmarzlik is in the running for another top prize tonight when the prestigious Przeglad Sportowy gala takes place in Warsaw, where the Polish Athlete of 2021 will be crowned.

The SpeedwayGP hero is nominated alongside national football hero Robert Lewandowski, plus Olympic gold medal winners Dawid Tomala, Wojciech Nowicki, Anita Wlodarczyk and the mixed 4 x 400m relay team. Tennis stars Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz area also in the running for Poland’s equivalent of BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The top 10 will be revealed at the start of the show, which gets underway at 20:00 on Polsat. It will also be broadcasted on PrzegladSportowy.pl and Onet.pl.

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