Keeping Score: June 2009

After a pleasant stay in my native Netherlands, it’s back to the nitty gritty of sports around Krakow, Poland and wherever Polish sportsmen are active.

It’s football first: Mariusz Lewandowski, Polish footballer, has won the UEFA Cup with his Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk, after beating German side Werder Bremen (2-1). The cup final was extra special since it would be the last UEFA Cup final ever. As from next year, the tournament will change its name (Europa League) and format (more group games, less knockout). Not everybody in Germany was sad about Werder’s loss: eternal rivals HSV congratulated Shakhtar with their win, as a form of revenge. Werder knocked HSV out of the semi finals of both the UEFA and German Cup, destroying their championship aspirations in the six times the two sides have met in the last season.

Lech Poznań has won the Polish Cup by beating Ruch Chorzów (1-0), earning Franciszek Smuda’s side their first prize in five years. However, the team from Greater Poland did see their lead in the Polish football league vapourise. It is now most probable that Wisła Kraków will win the title after having defeated rivals Legia at home on 9 May (1-0). But where there are winners, there are also losers: Artur Boruc, the Polish goalkeeper of Scottish side Celtic, saw rivals Rangers take off with the title on the last match day. Polish right wing back Marcin Wasilewski did not manage to claim the Belgian title with Anderlecht. His side ended tied with Standard Liege, but the latter was the strongest in a playoff match for the title.

In Formula One Robert Kubica did not finish in the Monaco Grand Prix. His weak qualifying (18th) was followed by a race that ended abruptly due to braking problems. The Cracovian driver is still without a single point this season. Jenson Button won his fifth race out of six and dominates the championship. Trouble and unrest awaits the racing elite class, as discussions about points, regulations and budget limits threaten to tear Formula One apart. Kubica’s team, BMW Sauber, is one of the teams to have said that they might leave Formula One if budgets are being capped. This would mean that Poland’s best paid and most popular sportsman could be without a seat for next year.

In tennis, Marta Domachowska did not survive the first round of the French Open on Roland Garros. All hopes are now on twelfth-ranked Agnieszka Radwańska from Kraków, who announced she has ambitions to at least make it to the quarterfinals. Radwańska caused a stir earlier, by refusing to play at the Warsaw Open because she had not received the participation fee. The tournament, without Radwańska, was surprisingly won by a Romanian 20-year-old rookie sensation named Alexandra Dulgheru.

And there you have it folks! May has known many winners and losers. June will have the outcome of this year’s Giro d’ Italia (cycling), World Championship rally in Poland and the British Formula One GP (racing), Wimbledon (tennis) and the European Championship in ladies’ basketball.

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