The Polish vaulting team started their traveling for the Europeans in Aachen this morning at 4 o’clock, a typical vaulting time. It is a very special moment. Do you remember a Polish vaulting team at a championships? I loved them in 2000, but their last appearance was in 2007.
But now, 8 years later, they are back!
We talked to a member of the squad that represents Poland, Aniela Bańkowicz. She told us about the vaulting situation & their journey to the Europeans.
Who are you, could you describe yourself a little bit? And who are the other members of the Polish team?
I live in the capital city of Poland – Warsaw. Since I was 4 I have been training rhythmic gymnastic and 8 years later I changed the discipline for Vaulting. It combines my two passions horses and gymnastic. I started with junior team, and now I’m member of the Senior one.
My team consists 10 vaulters, all girls, aged from 8 to 22. In spite of age difference we are really close to each other and together we are vaulting family :). We like to train together but also we are used to meet each other after training.
Mrs Natalia our coach is also our lunger and club’s chairing person. She is really important for us and we are all very close to her. Our foreign coach is Gero Meyer he visit us a few times a year.
El Rashim (Billy) and Oscar de Revel are our horses. Both are very high 185 cm and 178 cm respectively. With Osci we train some compulsories and Bill is our “competition horse”. Bill is 10 and Oscar 16 years old. Both are beloved and like to be hugged and petted.
How is the overall situation in Poland?
We don’t have the Championships of Poland, at the moment. But there are the all-Poland competitions. Usually they take 2 days. Most of the competitors are juniors and children. There are very few individual seniors. A great number of young vaulters – it’s a good sign for the future of polish vaulting. Rules and Categories are similar to the internationals.
Are there other competitions in Poland? Are there a lot of stables, without vaulting? I am asking, because in Germany are lots of stables one in every village, here in Peru, on the other hand, there are just two in a 10 million people city. And that’s all for the country. So, it would be difficult to start a vaulting school.
Yes, there are some open competitions but rather few. In Poland we have many stables. Almost in every town you will find posters advertising riding clubs. But vaulting is met rarely, on recreational level, if at all. But horse back riding itself is very popular amongst children and youth. Possibly because Poland has many good competitors in jumping and dressage.
In the past we saw squads & individual vaulters on the international stage. What went wrong that Poland had to make this cut?
It was difficult to find replacements for older competitors. There was one club, Aromer, which had teams and individual vaulters. The level of Aromer Team was very high and the team had stayed in the national team for a long time. Unfortunately the team broke in 2004 and this was temporarily the end of Polish vaulting. Now Polish Vaulting is getting stronger and stronger.
This year Poand managed to create an international competing senior team. What is different this time?
For 2 years we have had a Senior Team which represents Poland on the international stage. Last Oktober the perspective of Aachen appeared. There were 9 of us in the group. Through all winter we trained very hard. Aachen was something that we thought about when we were very tired and needed more motivation. Already in November we got the schedule which told us in which qualification competition we would be taking part. We went to 3 international competitions CVI Budapest, CVI Frenstat & CVI Pezinok. Unfortunately, one month before the competition started me and another vaulter suffered from torned ligament in our knees. That was really hard period for our team but there was no time for slowing down because between the competitions, breaks were really short. And in only 2 weeks we had to find the new member for the team. Beside the sad moments in that period there was a lot of laughter and each of our trips was full of joy.
Sounds like a hard time. How was it emotionally to deal with it?
I think we have learnt in this season not only a lot of technique, but also we learnt to never give up and always, in spite of all, to go straight to the goal. Now we know how versatile vaulting is and how important are all details. For example the position of fingers in standing or rotation of hips in scissors. In spite of 2 serious injuries our coach managed to create a good team which represents Poland on a good level. In this season the most joyfully moment was when we learnt that we got to the target – qualification to Aachen! We managed to achieve that in spite of all difficulties. It was wonderful a happy end and the beginning at the same time.
Personally I gained a lot in this season. At the beginning I worked very hard, I managed to combine school and sport and then the sudden injury. First I felt broken but then I thought to myself that I should draw as much good as possible from that situation. Maybe it was my attitude that helped me and 6 weeks after the surgery I was on horse again. I think that this injury has strengthened me psychologically and I learnt how much vaulting means to me. After the injury I felt great support from team mates and my coach.
In 2005 there was this international change to squads of SIX vaulters. You had a team in 2000, 2007 & 2015. Is it easier or the same to build a team?
Yes, it is easier, because when you build the team from zero it’s easier to find six competitors than nine. And it’s also cheaper.
Do you have already plans for the next years? Is it possible to have constantly an international competing team?
Our goal is to stay in the National Team for longer time. We won’t stop on Aachen we will continue training hard together. In the next season we will go for international competitions and we will try to get better and better results. We are very ambitious and we want Poland to return to the best European teams as in times of team Aromer.