“It was the worst moment in my life,” says Artur Nogal (POL) about his Olympic experience at PyeongChang 2018. His Games were over after a crash only a few meters into his 500m race. He managed to turn the negative into the positive: “That moment made me stronger.”
Nogal began skating as an 8-year-old, because it was one of the few sports options available for a kid from small town Slomczyn, near Warsaw, in Poland. He proved to have a talent for speed and made it into the junior national team.
At the 2010 ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Moscow, Nogal, won gold in the 500m, beating among others the current 500m Senior ISU World Speed Skating Champion Laurent Dubreuil (CAN).
Nogal never managed to win individual silverware at major Senior Championships, but the Team Sprint handed him and his team mates an additional opportunity. The Polish Team Sprint bronze at the 2018 ISU European Single Distances Speed Skating Championships was Nogal’s first senior podium.
Artur Nogal (POL) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)
Despite the passion for his sport, Nogal had doubts about keeping up his dream as an Olympic Speed Skater at the time.
In 2012 Nogal had set-up his own store, selling Speed Skating equipment next to the ice rink in Warsaw.
“I liked it because I know everything about Speed Skating,” he says. “But it was hard. On the one hand I needed the money to continue my hobby, Speed Skating, but on the other hand I needed more time to train as a top skater.”
Artur Nogal (POL) at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships 2020©Getty Images
After a six-year-struggle in which Nogal divided his time between the shop and training to become a better skater, he decided to put all eggs in one basket.
“I sold the shop to have more time for training in 2018, in the run-up to the Olympic Games in PyeongChang 2018,” he explains.
Heading for PyeongChang, he felt better than ever, but having qualified only for the 500m, his Games lasted only a few seconds until he crashed.
“Maybe I was trying too hard, stepping forward I hit the ice and fell down,” he explains. “It was the worst moment of my life, but it has made me stronger now.”
The PyeongChang crash took away all Nogal’s doubts about pursuing his Olympic Dream once more in 2022.
Artur Nogal (POL) at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)
“After this moment, I changed my mind. I train with more focus and the last two years were the best in my career,” he says.
“The next Olympics, I would like to prove myself to everybody.”