Władysław Kozakiewicz

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Władysław Kozakiewicz
Władysław Kozakiewicz 1980.jpg
Kozakiewicz in 1980
Personal information
Nationality Polish
Born (1953-12-08) 8 December 1953 (age 63)
Šalčininkai, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 1 12 in)
Weight 82 kg (181 lb)
Country  Poland
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Pole vault
Club Bałtyk Gdynia
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) Pole vault: 5.78 m (1980)
Kozakiewicz's gesture.[1]
Copy of W. Kozakiewicz medal and autograph in Sports Star Avenue in Dziwnów

Władysław Kozakiewicz (born 8 December 1953) is a Polish pole vault jumper, and an Olympic champion at the 1980 Summer Olympics.


Kozakiewicz was born to a Polish family in Šalčininkai, Lithuanian SSR near Vilnius, Lithuania, he broke the pole vault jumping world record three times, was European Indoor Champion in 1977 and 1979, Polish Champion ten times, and won a gold medal during the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Kozakiewicz's gesture[edit]

In Poland, the Bras d'honneur became known as "Kozakiewicz's gesture" (gest Kozakiewicza).[2] Kozakiewicz made the gesture on 30 July 1980 to Russian spectators in the stadium during the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. The crowd supporting Soviet jumper Konstantin Volkov booed, hissed, jeered, and whistled during Kozakiewicz's performance. Having just secured his gold medal position, Kozakiewicz made the gesture in defiance to the Soviet crowd. He later confirmed his dominance over the competition by breaking the world record, clearing at 5.78 meters.

The photos of this incident circled the globe, with the exception of the Soviet Union and its satellites, although the event was broadcast live on TV in many countries of the Bloc. While international observers varied in their reaction to the incident, Kozakiewicz's act received much support in Polish society, which resented Soviet control over Eastern Europe (Poland was in the midst of labor strikes that led to the creation of the labor union Solidarity less than two months later). After the 1980 Olympics ended, the Soviet ambassador to Poland demanded that Kozakiewicz be stripped of his medal over his "insult to the Soviet people".[3] The official response of the Polish government was that Kozakiewicz's arm gesture had been an involuntary muscle spasm caused by his exertion.

In 1985 Kozakiewicz immigrated to West Germany, where he twice won the national title and worked as a pole vault coach. After the fall of Communism, Kozakiewicz moved to Lithuania.[3]

International competitions[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Notes
Representing  Poland
1974 European Championships Rome, Italy 2nd 5.35 m
1975 European Indoor Championships Katowice, Poland 3rd 5.30 m
1976 Olympic Games Melbourne, Australia 11th 5.25 m
1977 European Indoor Championships San Sebastián, Spain 1st 5.51 m
Universiade Sofia, Bulgaria 1st 5.55 m
World Cup Düsseldorf, West Germany 2nd 5.55 m
1978 European Championships Prague, Czechoslovakia 4th 5.45 m
1979 European Indoor Championships Vienna, Austria 1st 5.58 m
Universiade Mexico City, Mexico 1st 5.60 m
1980 Olympic Games Moscow, Soviet Union 1st 5.78 m
1982 European Indoor Championships Milan, Italy 3rd 5.60 m
1983 European Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 9th 5.30 m
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 8th 5.40 m
1984 Friendship Games Moscow, Soviet Union 6th 5.40 m

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Władysław Kozakiewicz makes a gesture towards booing and jeering Soviet crowds seconds after securing his gold medal in the 1980 Summer Olympics pole vault competition at the Lenin Grand Stadium, 30 July 1980.
  2. ^ "Gest Kozakiewicza" (in Italian). sportvintage.it. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Władysław Kozakiewicz". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
United States David Roberts
Men's Pole Vault World Record Holder
11 May 1980 – 29 June 1980
Succeeded by
France Thierry Vigneron
Preceded by
France Philippe Houvion
Men's Pole Vault World Record Holder
30 July 1980 – 20 June 1981
Succeeded by
France Thierry Vigneron
Sporting positions
Preceded by
United States Dave Roberts
Men's Pole Vault Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
United States Mike Tully
Preceded by
France Patrick Abada
France Philippe Houvion
Men's Pole Vault Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Vladimir Polyakov