1st Olympic delegation arrives in Beijing
The Polish delegation, the first of the delegations to the Beijing Olympic Games, arrived at the Beijing Capital International Airport around 6:35 am on Sunday, marking the beginning of mass Olympic arrival which China is poised to welcome in the coming days.
The 42 Poles were the first batch of Poland's 400-plus Beijing Olympic delegation, including 268 athletes, said sources close to the delegation.
The delegation to the Beijing Games is reported to be Poland's largest since the Moscow Olympics in 1980.
Among the arrivals were canoers, weightlifters and volleyball players. Also aboard the LO091 flight were Poland's handball team members who stepped off at the airport for a transfer to Seoul, South Korea, for training.
Otylia Jedrzejczak, women's 200 butterfly gold medallist in Athens, also made a transfer at the airport for pre-games training in Japan.
A lovely human-size robot of Beijing Olympic Mascot, Huanhuan, awaited outside of the luggage claiming hall, singing joyful Chinese songs to welcome the Polish delegation which emerged at around 8:15 am.
"I am satisfied with services at the airport and the speed of the entry procedure is quick enough," said Kajetan Broniewski, chef de mission of the Polish Olympic delegation.
Exclusive Olympic lanes have been set up at sites such as the border check, inspection and quarantine, and customs, and Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee officials said they are trying to make Olympic Family members' passage easier and faster.
Other members of the Polish delegation agreed their entry at the airport was basically satisfactory. They did not show up earlier because the luggage claiming took a little more time as some are oversized and the delegation had to wait until the last of them got the belongings.
Broniewski said the Polish delegation aims to reap at least 11 gold medals at the Beijing Games.
Janusz Tatera, Poland's Olympic attache counsellor, said though it's hard to predict how many gold medals the Poles will win, his country will win no less than the 10 gold medals it won in Athens.
Boxing, swimming, canoeing, yachting and fencing are the strongest assets of the Polish team which will compete in 24 sports in Beijing.
Star athletes such as Jedrzejczak, gold-winning sailing pair Kusznierewicz Mateusz and Dominik Zycki at the Miami star-classes worlds, and world champion for men's 400m hurdles Plawgo Marek are among Poland's gold hopefuls. Poland's men's volleyball and handball also have a good chance to win.
Since its Olympic debut in 1924, Poland has won a total of 59 gold medals, 74 silver and 118 bronze in Summer Olympics, with athletics being its most successful sport.