Polish Olympic Committee presents Poland's 2018 winter team

Fifty eight sportspeople have made the grade to represent Poland at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The standard-bearer at the event will be gold medalist speed skater Zbigniew Brodka.

The squad was confirmed in Warsaw on Tuesday by the management board of the Polish Olympic Committee (PKO). The event will take place between February 9 and 25.

The PKO board also empowered its president, Andrzej Krasnicki, to supplement the squad by appointing more athletes in the event of changes in the rankings. "I think a few more people will enter the games," Krasnicki said. 

It is almost certain that Poland will be represented by at least the same number of competitors (59) as in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Currently bobsleigher Arnold Zdebiak has reserve status and as such does not make up one of the 58. However, as PKO Secretary General Adam Krzesinski announced, Zdebiak intends to compete in the four-man event, taking the place of Krzysztof Tylkowski, who will take part in the two-man event earlier. "To us, this sportsman is already a member of the squad," Krzesinski said. 

In its current form, the squad comprises 26 women and 32 men, who will be accompanied by 76 other people - trainers, doctors, servicing crews and physiotherapists. The identity of one alpine skier is still unknown, however. "The Polish Skiing Union (PZN) asked us for a brief delay. There will be a sitting of the PZN management board at which a final decision will be taken concerning the choice of athlete and their trainer. The union is awaiting the closing of the international federation's ranking and believes that both athletes under consideration will be entitled to compete at the Olympics," Krzesinksi explained. 

The team's standard-bearer, who will carry the Polish flag during the opening ceremony, is Zbigniew Brodka. The 33-year-old won two medals at the Sochi games - a gold for the 1500-metres speed skating and a bronze in the team pursuit. 

"It is a huge honour not just for Zbigniew but for our discipline as a whole," the president of the Polish Speedskating Union, Roman Derks, told PAP. "He could not be in Warsaw during the announcement of the decision because he was polishing his form at the track in Inzell (Germany - PAP) with the rest of the team. Zbigniew deserves to carry the Polish flag not only because of his results but also his professionalism and daily attitude. It is no secret that he combines his sporting career with being a firefighter. He doesn't sit at a desk, but regularly takes part in action."

Brodka is the second speed skater to receive the distinction of standard-bearer. At the 2010 Vancouver games, his team mate Koknrad Niedzwiedzki had the honour.