On top of Baku: Shooting star Artur Szalpuk crosses magical 100-point mark
2015 European Games
Baku, Azerbaijan, June 26, 2015. Poland’s rising Volleyball star Artur Szalpuk has had hands of fire this far at the Baku 2015 European Games. The only 20-year old outside spiker has scored as many as 120 points following completion of Friday’s semi-final with Bulgaria.
Not so many had heard about Artur Szalpuk before the European Games. But the rising star of the Polish team has carved his name into the history books with some amazing performances in Baku scoring 97 points in the tournament before entering the court for the semi-final against Bulgaria today.
After a surprising zero points in the first set, Artur Szalpuk scored seven in the second stanza, including the set point, and was the first player in the men’s tournament at the Baku 2015 European Games to break the magical 100-point mark. The 202 cm outside spiker has so far recorded as many as 120 points.
“The honour of being the top scorer in the tournament is not that important for me. The most important thing is that the team wins. I am grateful for the coaches and all the people around the team who have done an amazing job preparing us for this tournament in the best possible way,” says Artur Szalpuk.
The strong Volleyball genes he gets from his father, Jarek Szalpuk, who collected 30 caps with the Polish national team in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
The European Games is his first senior tournament. And the transition from a youth player to the senior level has been smooth for Artur Szalpuk. Though, he was very disappointed after losing the semi-final today, a somehow strange feeling after Poland had swept all of their previous matches at the tournament in Azerbaijan’s capital.
“I just try to do my best. Luckily it has been enough to play here in Baku. Right now I dream about winning the bronze medal. Then I will start thinking about the future and what is next,” he says.
Last year Artur Szalpuk won a silver medal at the CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship in Brno. The year before, in 2013, he won another silver medal with Poland at the CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship in Laktasi, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In both finals Poland faced Russia. But Artur Szalpuk does not care about who he and Poland will face in the bronze medal match on Sunday, June 28.
“It is not important who we will play. We will fight no matter what and win the bronze medal,” he concludes.