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23.05.2016, 17:10
The giant hulk with flying fears
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FEATURE: While Michal Jurecki seems to be invincible on the court at times, there are some things that do trouble the Kielce left back.

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The giant hulk with flying fears

Michal Jurecki says: "I like contact. I’m a bit like Hulk. When I receive some hits, I don’t care about them and I continue running." Some call him a tank, some a ‘tough guy’.

Others mention his ‘off-road gear’ which he kicks in on court whenever necessary. These are powerful attributes, but his Polish nickname is 'Dzidziuś' – baby – because of his cheerful nature and everlasting smile. So who exactly is Michal Jurecki?

If you met him in a dark alley, you would be likely to run away. He is tall, well-built, his moves are full of energy. He is very confident and straight forward, always tells exactly what he feels in any particular moment.

"I’m a really honest person, sometimes even outspoken," he says. "That’s why I appreciate people who always say straight away what they don’t like about me. It’s horrible when people talk behind your back and then you get to know their opinions only through others."

Would you believe that such a giant is afraid of flights and horror movies? "I will never be able to fall asleep on a plane. Our medical staff has special pills for me to calm down. And horror movies?

When I was a kid, my older brother Marcin loved them! I was watching with him, hidden somewhere behind the chair," recalls Jurecki. "I was afraid to go down to the cellar and it has stayed like this until now. I prefer comedies or movies with superheroes," he says with a smile.

Real life heroes

Jurecki admits that it is impossible to meet the characters from such movies in reality, but that does not mean that there are no superheroes among us. "For me that is someone who helps those who are in need," he says.

His own superhero has always been his older brother Bartosz. "He started playing handball first; he was the first in the national team. I always wanted to be equal to him. He was pushing me forward," Jurecki explains, underlining that he has been lucky to have somebody to follow so closely.

"Many athletes look up to the greats of sport, but I have Bartek, one of the best line players in the world. Even before he reached the top, I was always looking up to him."

Over the course of time, Jurecki himself became a role model for many people. "When I was a teenager I followed many sports on TV. I dreamed of became an idol for many people. It seems to me that I did it," he says, "It makes me happy when I meet people who tell me ‘my wife loves you’, ‘my brother adores you’ and ‘my kids stare at the TV, screaming ‘Dzidzia, Dzidzia’ (baby, baby)!’. It’s so nice to know that people appreciate what I’m doing."

But popularity comes with a downside, too. "My wife doesn’t like being out with me in the public," he says. "People hug me; we have club cars with our names on it, so they often spot us through the window. It irritates my wife and I fully understand that because we would like to have a bit of privacy when we are together."

However, he feels settled in his role and is aware that others watch him carefully. "It’s normal that young people follow the examples of actors, musicians or athletes. That’s why we all should set a good example. I don’t perceive it as a must, this is just how it works," says Jurecki and stresses that he still lives his own normal life.

"I behave like I was brought up and I think I know where the boundaries are. I pick up my older daughter from school and the younger one from crèche every day. I live a totally normal life, the way I really am."

Appreciated team captain

On the court, however, he has an aura of indestructibility. Have you ever seen Michal Jurecki complaining about pain or trying to delay game when he was brought down? No? Don’t worry, you did not miss anything! He doesn’t do it.

"He is a big leader for us. If you tell him ‘Look, you need to play as a right back today, tomorrow in the middle and next week on the line’ he is always OK with this! He can do everything," praises his teammate Tobias Reichmann.

Kielce’s assistant coach Tomasz Strzabala says: "We turned him into our team’s leader, someone who is able to push the others in the worst moment. He is a captain, he plays in attack and in defence and he motivates the others."

"I think that my emotional reactions and gestures influence the team in a positive fashion," says Jurecki and adds that the huge responsibility is not a burden for him. "As a kid I was dreaming about this. I wanted to be someone in sport. I do what I love, so I don’t complain, I just fulfil my task."

Jurecki knows that his strong character has led him to where he is now. "When you reach a crossroad, you can really get to know yourself, check if
you can say ‘no’ and choose the good path.” His ‘good path’ is sport. He believes if you work hard, you can go far.

He hopes that this year he will reach the very top, not only at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 but also at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. "I have a book of (Spanish football international) Andres Iniesta called ‘A year in paradise’ in which he talks about the year when he won both the Champions League and the World Cup.

And if we won the two coming tournaments, it would be definitely my year in paradise," he says but then reminds himself of the 12-hour flight to Rio. "Oh yeah, that will be a tough test first."


TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / es
 
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