At an early age, world-renowned hammer thrower Kamila Skolimowska was making a name for herself as one of the best in her sport. She was only 14 when she became the Polish national champion and the next year went on to win the hammer throw competition at the European Junior Championships, which was the first time this event was ever staged. But Kamila will be best remembered for winning the gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
“Kamila put so many hours of training into winning this gold medal,” says her dad Robert Skolimowska. “This moment was one of the best in her life and our family’s too.”
Born in Warsaw, Poland, Kamila followed in the mighty footsteps of her parents, as her father was once considered one of the strongest men in the world, winning a weightlifting bronze medal at the 1986 World Championships and Good Will Games, and finishing seventh at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Kamila’s mother was also a gifted athlete, playing handball in the top division of the National League.
Even after winning the gold medal, Kamila was not one to rest on her laurels and continued to compete and break records around the world. She even found time to forge a career as a policewoman, working at a police station near her hometown.
But in 2009 at the age of 26, Kamila’s life was cut short during a Polish national team training camp in Portugal. Initially her death was thought to be due to a heart attack, but her autopsy showed that the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism (PE), a blood clot in the lung.
Says Robert, “I think Kamila died an unnecessary death, as the doctors may have missed some of the signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism. We hope that her story can serve as a reminder to others to be aware of blood clots and what can cause them, and most importantly what to do if you think you are experiencing one.”
Kamila’s dad also believes that World Thrombosis Day is an important and necessary step in highlighting the deadly nature of thrombosis, and that even if you are an Olympic gold medalist and in top physical shape- you are still susceptible.