Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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BRONISLAW MALINOWSKI STEEPLECHASER '1960's to 81' (MAY 2012)

Bronislaw Malinowski was born on June 4th 1951 at Nowe in Poland but tragically died in a car accident in Grudziadz, at the age of 30, the year after he won his Olympic Gold medal in Moscow. He had a Polish Father and a Scottish Mother. A very good friend of his and a 'Character in the sport' who lives in the UK was Alex Mineyko, who was a Middlesex County runner.He kindly interpreted my interview with Bronic (his nickname). That was back in 1975 and afterwards Bronislaw, Mike Boit, Alex and I went for beer in the pub near the Queens Hotel in Crystal Palace. Happy memories!. Bronislaw Malinowski being 1.82m tall/66 kg, strong looking with a distinctive black moustache and, running with his bright red Polish shorts and white vets 'Cut a dash' on the tracks round the World, year after year.
   Dennis Coates (An 8:19 steeplechaser from Gateshead Harriers), who was 9th when Bronislaw was 2nd in the Olympic steeplechase Final of 1976 made an interesting comment to me in 1977 about who he thought was the World's Greatest steeplechaser " I would say without a doubt Bronislaw Malinowski because of his all-round ability although Anders Garderud has probably got the same times. Being a front runner myself. I like to see a front runner so I think you have got to admire Malinowski. He is willing to have a go at anything. He is no sitter. We have got too many sitters in British athletics so obviously I admire the front runner Foster, Bedford, anybody who is not scared to have a go."
   There were so many races from 1500 to 10,000 inclusive Bronislaw Malinowski was involved in over a space of nine years.
   In 1971 he ran 13:39.4 for 5000 metres to win the Polish Championships
   In 1972 He ran the flat 3000m in 7:51.2.That year Anders Garderud of Sweden appeared heading the year's 'All Time Lists' with 8:20.8 for the 3000 steeplechase and Malinowski was fourth with 8:22.2 which he did in Warsaw in August of that year. 1972 was also Olympic year in Munich and Brownislaw was 4th in the Final in 8:27.92 behind winner Kip Keino of Kenya who ran 8:23.64.
   In comes Bronic about that " I had  the best result before the Olympic Games and I thought I would win a medal. I shall remember that final for many years because Keino, who had never run the steeplechase seriously, came and won and I think I lost a medal coming towards the water jump for the last time. Not only did I lose my balance, but in order to save myself being kicked in my 'credentials' by another guy's foot I had to support myself with one hand on the barrier and by doing so lost at least two seconds. All that contributed at least to my not getting one of the medals. I shall always remember that as a race full of luck and misfortune for many in the race. It was not just the best guy winning on the day or the best guy losing. In my view the worst place you can ever achieve in an Olympic Games is fourth place!"
   (Mel Watman was the Editor of 'Athletics Weekly' then and it was in his magazine where my quoted material appeared in October 1975.)
In 1973 in Warsaw he ran 13:32.8 for 5k and 8:21.6 for the steeplechase.
   In 1974 was Bronislaw Malinowski's  first 'Classic' victory in a major Championships. It was the European in Rome:- First Six:- 1 Bronislaw Malinowski (Pol) 8:15.0 (Champ rec.) 2 Anders Garderud (Swe) 8:15.4.0; 3 Michael Karst (W Ger) 8:18.0; 4 Franko Fava (Italy) 8:19.0; 5 Hans-Peter Wehrli (Swi) 8:26.2; 6 Gheorghe Cefan (Rum) 8:26.2.
   In the 10k Final on a very hot night before that he came fourth in 28:26.0. Behind him were Nikolay Puklakov (USSR) Lasse Viren, Mariano Haro, Bernie Ford and David Black-24 finished.). The first 3 were Manfred Kushmann (E Ger) 28:25.8, 2 Tony Simmons (UK) 28:25.8, 3 Giuseppe  Cindolo (Italy) 28:27.2. Bronislaw  Malinowski was surprised the following year to beat Tony Simmons in the Semi-Final of the European Cup over 10k at Crystal Palace in 28:26.0 to Simmons' 28:27.6. Back to talking about the 3000 European steeplechase in 1974 " After my 10,000 I knew I was in superb form and very confident, so there were no problems and I ran the least amount in order to get  into the final after the heat.'
  The Final:- ' The race could have been won in 8:10 but there was nobody willing to run the first kilometres fast and so that part of the race was very slow and there was no chance of a record. I felt Anders Garderud had ability well above mine, but it was basically a mental win over his good physique. Garderud made nearly a  basic mistake because he accelerated with 300m to go, and I went with him, but after another 100m he slightly slowed down before the water jump. As  Garderud changed into a lower gear and up a gear again, he was already adrift a little bit and that was good enough for me as he could not get me then. I was so delighted to win the gold medal. I was particularly pleased to beat the guy everybody was quoting and thought he was the absolute favourite and who was considered one class higher than me, as I was basically regarded as a good average runner. So that was more satisfying than just a win'
  That win gave him confidence for the future?
   " Absolutely so. Winning the European Championships gave me confidence, belief and if anything it gave me an enormous quantity of energy--the  desire to have a go! Obviously if I had not had my little wins I would have finished long ago but in particular the Rome win gave me not only confidence but an aggression in my training for many years to come. It is personal to me but my genetic background has helped me so much. My mother is completely Scottish and therefore tough both physically and mentally. I owe a lot to my mother, who has been living in Poland for the last 25 years. She is not only energetic but has that zeal and no nonsense attitude. The determination which I have inside of me, in my blood, I owe to my mother. She helped me to win that European title in her whole attitude and in many other situations she is the one who has been of most assistance to me."
   It was in  1975 in Nice in the European Cup Final Bronislaw Malinowski came 2nd in the 1,500 in 3:39.8 behind Thomas Wessinghage (West Germany) 3:39.1 but ahead of established 1500m men Frank Clement (UK) 3:40.1 and Straub (2nd in 1980 Olympic 1500). Bronislaw was also third in the steeplechase.'
What did Bronislaw think of Garderud as a racer "
   " No matter how well the Swede has done he got his World record by sticking behind somebody's back. I am not taking anything away from his glory--good luck to him.  We just belong to a different group of runners and it does not make me better or worse."
   1976 Montreal Olympic 3000m Steeplechase Final 28th of July 1976
    Malinowski led at 2000m Garderud struck for home with 300m remaining.
First Six:- 1 Anders Garderud (Swe) 8:08.2 (World Record) 2 Bronislaw Malinowski (Pol) 8:09.11 (Polish Record) 3 Frank Baumgartl (GDR) 8:10.36 (Nat record); 4 Tapio Kantanen (Finland) 8:12.60; 5 Michael Karst (FRG) 8:20.14; 6 Euan Robertson (New Zealand) 8:21.8.
           In 1977 the three leading times for the year were German, Michael Karst, 8:14.05; Dans Glans (Sweden) 8:16.3 and Bronislaw Malinowski 8:16.94
           In 1978 Henry Rono topped the 'All Time Lists' with 8:05.37 but in Koblenz on the 7th of September he was beaten by Bronislaw who won in 8:15.50 to Henry's 8:17.51.
            In the European Championships in Prague the First six:- 1 Bronislaw Malinowski 8:15.1, 2 Patriz ILg (Ger) 8:18.3; 3 Ismo Toukonen (Fin) 8:18.3; 4 Michael Karst (Ger) 8:19.0; 5 Paul Copu (Rum) 8:20.4, 6 Vasile Bichea (Rum) 8:24.9
            In 1979 John Treacy from Eire, the Olympic marathon silver medallist, won the International 'World' cross country at Limerick but the man of many parts Bronislaw Malinowski was 2nd in 37.29 and Aleksandr Antipov (USSR) was 3rd in 37:30.
             In 1980 was the last 'Big' Championships for Bronislaw Malinowski The Olympic Games Final in Moscow on the 31st of July 1980. Filbert Bayi , who had finished 9th in his Olympic heat 8 years earlier and, was a mile and 1500 World record holder, 'stepped on the gas' early on and lead Malinowski by about 30 metres after 2000m but entering the last lap, 'Unusually conservative that time' Bronislaw, was only 5 metres behind him and by the water jump was challenging very strongly and went away in the straight to win his cherished gold medal.
First 6:- 1 Bronislaw Malinowski (Poland) 8:09.70; 2 Filbert Bayi (Tanzania) 8:12.48; 3 Eshetu Tura (Ethiopia) 8:13.57; 4 Domingo Ramon (Spain) 8:15.74; 5 Francisco Sanchez (Spain) 8:17.93; 6 Giuseppa Gerbi (Italy) 8:18.47.
 
 BRONISLAW MALINOWSKI WHEN HE STARTED IN THE SPORT

" My brother was a Junior running for the Polish National team in the 1500 and it was because of him that I got started. One day my brother just said: 'Let's go out training' and that was how it all began. It was in that first training effort that something 'clicked inside me, and that made me continue running.'
  ' I was born and lived south of Gdansk (Danzig). When I started my training the first races I did were 1000 and 1500m; the 1000m is very popular in Poland. At that time I was no longer in school but in technical college. My club from the very start was Olimpia Grudziadz and right from the beginning of my athletics my coach has been Ryszard Szczepanski. I was not given any specific training to begin with, just general development--gentle running, plenty of warm ups, even swinging from the trees and anything to give me a thorough basic fitness. I started running when I was 18 and trained then every day on my own. My time to begin with was 3:58.0 for 1500'
   ' When I began in the sixties, the first cuttings that I kept were of Ron Clarke.'
   His most memorable race in his early career
"The European Junior Championships in 1970 when I represented Poland in Paris, winning the 2000m steeplechase in a time of 5:35 That was really memorable for me, as it happened to be the very first Junior Championship in Europe. My success in Paris influenced me in my decision to concentrate on the steeplechase because up to then I was tackling a lot of events."

Alastair Aitken

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