I watched the 1st Teresin Championships. I’m already all in for the idea to rebrand it as the Open International Teresin Championships because the place and time are very convenient. One of the categories particularly caught my attention. Let me explain. ()
For the sake of formality - I present the heroes of the story: Sławek Malas: multiple medalist of international events, has been competing for many years. Paweł Gawenda: One of the leading athletes in Poland. Already known to you as a portrait artist.
Teresin: A small town near Warsaw.
Seniors, 85kg, left arm. Artur Krupa with gold, that’s not surprising. Then, the third place – Sławek Malas. Is this surprising? Sławek is not very outspoken, he’s rather shy so I didn’t ask him to give any comments on this start. The runner-up, though, Paweł Gawenda, was incredibly happy. I would dare say happier than the event rank should suggest. Really! I wil try to explain in the interview with Paweł.
PeSzy: Paweł, you look as if you’ve just become the World Champion and these were just local championships. The competition was pretty decent but not to this extent… Where does all this happiness come from?
Paweł Gawenda: It’s my first time ever that I’ve won with Sławek Malas. That’s why I’m so happy!
PeSzy: When did you first fight Sławek?
Paweł: In Suwałki, in 2018. There was a tournament there and some Vendettas, too. I remember talking to Darek Wiśniewski and he told me they were looking for an opponent for Sławek Malas. I remember I was in pretty good shape with my left arm back then, or at least relatively, and I knew Sławek as a legend of Polish armwrestling so I thought – maybe… me?
PeSzy: That’s quite arrogant of you...
Paweł: I knew back then that I couldn’t win but I wanted to check how strong the top wrestler of the lighter categories might be.
PeSzy: As far as I remember, you didn’t make an impact at the table then…
Paweł: Not really. I remember a lot, I remember the stress and adrenaline. I also remember that those were the times when I wasn’t really mentally ready for fighting. I would take up opponents thinking: “Just don’t lose too quickly” or worrying about making a fool out of myself. I gave my all in that fight but Sławek crushed me very easily. The first rounds ended in seconds and he played with me a little in the last two.
I remember him putting me into the hook and unwrapping me again like a rag doll, I also injured my ligaments in this fight and couldn’t straighten my arm for a very long time.
PeSzy: He just showed you your place...
Paweł: He was just much stronger, that’s all. I still remember that fight after all this time because I was literally crushed and I’ve set my mind on reaching a point where I can win with Sławek and get my revenge. From then on, we didn’t have any chance to fight, until Teresin.
PeSzy: Were you counting down days until this revenge?
Paweł: I had to take a break for a year after the fight in 2018 because of some serious health issues but I came back much stronger mentally. I was already mentally prepared that I would reach this level someday, be it 2 or 20 years.
Meanwhile, my left arm healed completely, as opposed to my right arm, which resulted in left becoming my dominant arm. I already knew after the Łochów tournament that I can really cause him some trouble. All of my friends told me that Sławek Malas is too strong for me with his left arm and that I stand no chance. I couldn’t really believe them because I knew my left arm was actually developing quite well and I was sure I was already strong enough to win with him.
I trained very hard because I was serious about showing up in my peak form to Teresin. I really gave it my all, and even more, to win with Sławek and the feeling was incredible. It’s also proof I’m going in the right direction, too.
PeSzy: Thank you very much for the interview, and my most sincere congratulations to you. It seems like a Vendetta is absolutely necessary between you and Sławek. I hope it can take place in Suwałki, for example.
Paweł: Thanks for the interview and all the best to my rival!
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