Mariusz Wlazly – No stopping his ambitions

At 37, still showing hunger for new challenges

While his cupboards at home are stuffed to bursting with medals and trophies from his illustrious career – most of which came with PGE Skra Bełchatów the club he served with distinction for 17 years – he has stepped out of his comfort zone in the pursuit of more glory.

In May he departed Bełchatów to start a new challenge with Trefl Gdańsk, having helped the yellow and blacks to nine Polish Super Liga titles, numerous Polish Cup and Super Cup titles, and silver and bronze medals at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Club Championship.

The opposite, 194cm-tall and synonymous with the number two shirt left in May at the end of the domestic Polish season and was announced as the team’s captain at the beginning of the season.

“It is a big change for me because I had some great times during my 17 seasons with Bełchatów and it wasn’t easy for me to leave,” Wlazly said during his unveiling in June.

“I am excited about this new challenge with a new city and a new club. I feel ready for this change. When thinking about making this change, I could only find good reasons to do so.”

Wlazly’s hunger to hit the very top of volleyball was evident from the start, first in the five years he enjoyed with his hometown club Wieluń Sports Club, and then for the Poland national team, for whom he made his debut in 2004.

Hitting the very highest

Within a year he was fully established in the Poland team and 12 months on he enjoyed his first taste of success with silver at the Japan 2006 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship.

That came after he had helped the U21 team to gold at the Iran 2003 FIVB Men’s Volleyball U21 World Championship, but he saved the best till last.

In 2014 he returned to the national team under Stephane Antiga after injury meant he missed the London 2012 Olympic Games and 2012 FIVB World League triumph.

Poland's Mariusz Wlazly celebrate during match against Germany

Wlazly excelled as Poland won gold in front of their adoring fans at the Poland 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, their first since they topped the podium in 1976.

Fairy tale ending

He was named tournament MVP and best opposite after he led the scoring with 223 points, the highest profile of which was the winner in the gold medal match against Brazil.

Following the tournament, the then 31-year-old stepped down from the national team to spend more time with his wife Paulina Drewicz, a former volleyball player, and their son.

It also meant he stayed fresher to help Bełchatów to more success, success he is hoping to match in his challenge with Gdansk especially as he will be playing under coach Michal Winiarski, his World Championship-winning captain in 2014.

“I am glad that the coaching staff and the players have trusted me by choosing me for such a responsible role as the team captain,” Wlazly said. “I hope that my experience will help the team and that I will be a good link between all parts of the club.”

“There are many young players in our team, whom I would really like to help with my experience. It is good that they have a chance to play in the senior team because they have the right skills. The only thing that remains is to polish their talents.”

Read more: Roster 100 to showcase stars of volleyball and beach volleyball

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