Mariusz Wlaszly is a Polish volleyball hero. Four years ago, he led the country’s national team to one of its biggest moment: the 2014 FIVB World Championship gold medal. He was also named the tournament’s MVP and the best opposite hitter of the competition. Mariusz, who also has 8 Polish domestic titles to his name, is so admired in his country that in 2014, he was even gifted the Order of Polonia Restituta medal, one of Poland’s highest civilian awards for for outstanding achievements.
That won’t mean, however, that newly appointed coach Vital Heynen will feature Mariusz in his roster, thus probably preventing him from helping Poland defend its World title in a few months. According to the coach, Mariusz, and also Lukasz Zygadlo, although still great players, are already too old. Here is his full statement (Siatka.org):
“I did not talk to them about the team, mainly because I have many young and talented volleyball players at my disposal. I want to check them out. I know that Mariusz is still a great player, but in two years, when the Olympic Games will happen in Tokyo, he will be 37 years old. Perhaps it would be a solution, but first I prefer to see what we have in terms of young talent, for example, Maciek Muzaj, who will be 24 this year. A similar situation presents itself with Łukasz Żygadło. He is a sensational playmaker, but he is four years older than Mariusz. Maybe someday I will call them, but first I will check other much younger players.”
Although Heynen is not entirely wrong, why keep two good players out of the team for the World Championship, if they are playing effectively as of right now? In two years time, we agree that a lot could change, but the WCH is to be played in a few months, and fans deserve to see the best possible Polish team available, regardless if these players would still be in good enough shape for Tokyo in two years.