By Tenzin Sangmo
(L-R) Silver medalist Szymon Kolecki of Poland, gold medalist Ilya Ilin of Kazakhstan and bronze medalist Khadzhimurat Akkaev of Russia pose during the medal ceremony for the men's 94 kg weightlifting event during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing on August 17, 2008. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
New Delhi, August 19 - Szymon Kolecki, 26, Polish weightlifter who finished second in the men's 94 kg at the Olympics made a strong statement when he shaved his head as a mark of solidarity with Tibetan monks just before the competition.
"This haircut is from this morning. I can't directly say why I did it. It's connected with certain things that the Olympic Charter forbids. But I will say that it's symbolic," he told a Polish news agency August 17.
Kolecki, a member of the Polish team for the 2008 Olympic Games has been very outspoken about China's policies. "I am outraged by what's going on in Tibet. When I read about it, I can hardly believe I'll compete in a country that bloodily suppresses street protests and persecutes people who don't agree with the party. I can't believe the Chinese have launched an immense operation to block Lhasa", he said after the events unfolded in Tibet.
Earlier in March, a week after the Lhasa unrest where Chinese troops subdued peaceful protestors he said, "Unless the Chinese regime becomes more moderate, I'll compete with my head shaved in a gesture of solidarity with the Tibetan monks".
True to his word, a bald Kolecki took centerstage on Sunday bagging the silver medal in his category.
He further added, "Until August 17th, I'll be focused chiefly on my participation in the contest. But after that I'll keep my eyes wide open and if I see something worrying, I'll surely not look away."
Kolecki was born on October 12, 1981 in Olawa, a town in south-western Poland and was a silver medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney after which a serious back injury forced him to put his career on hold. He recuperated and returned to weightlifting in late 2005 and remains a five time gold winner at the European Championships over the years.