Former Olympic athlete runs for BC

Julianna Crisalli

When he was only 20, Filip Walotka ran in the 4×4 relay in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, as a member of the Polish team.

Walotka came to the United States two years ago and is now completing his fourth semester at Bakersfield College. He said his major is undecided, but he hopes to become a sports manager in the future.

“I like it here,” Walotka said. “I have many friends. When I came here, I didn’t speak English. Like I knew a few words, like my ‘team’ and my coach.’ My teachers helped me a lot. So, I’m a survivor.”

In order to secure himself a place on the Polish Olympic team, Walotka had to be one of the top six in Poland’s National Championships. He joined the team in 1999 and the extensive training began. The Polish team took seventh at the Olympics that year. Walotka is now a member of BC’s track team and feels much more at ease running for the school now that he has accomplished the pinnacle of athletics in the Olympics.

“I was pretty scared,” said Walotka. “I was like 20 years old. The first time I stepped on the stadium and I saw like a hundred thousand people, I was like, ‘Whoa, I feel pretty small.’ It was very noisy. It stressed me, but it helped me. The experience helped me for like right now. Right now nothing can be more scary. Right now everything is easy, it’s only school.”

Walotka’s athletic goal is to make it into the next Olympics. He will be returning to Poland this month to begin training with his team. In January, he will travel to South Africa to attend a sports camp.

“I’m going to go back to Poland next month,” said Walotka. “If I want to go to the Olympics, I have to practice with my team, with the professional team.”

At first glance, it would seem sports is the main priority in Walotka’s life, but after further examination, athletics is not a favorite for this young man. His pastimes include watching good movies and listening to enjoyable music. His two loves, however, are photography and traveling. Walotka has traveled to more countries than he can count and is anxious to see more.

“Sports is not my hobby,” said Walotka. “I like watching a movie. A good, good movie or good music. But my hobbies, I try putting all my money for like a voyage, travel. I’ve seen like 40 countries. I’ve been everywhere. I like photography too. In my home town I have a gallery, I show my pictures. I love it.”

According to track coach Bob Covey, Walotka will go far in his lifetime.

No matter how far Walotka’s talent takes him, he hopes to stay grounded and happy. After his next journey to the Olympics, he plans to return to the United States and continue school. He has received a scholarship to the University of Nebraska and is contemplating moving there to finish his schooling.

“My personal goal is doing everything so it makes me happy then other people happy,” said Walotka. “I don’t want to change myself. Like if you go somewhere, like the Olympics, some people they came and they are like cocky or something. I just want to keep the same. That’s my motto.”