Sochi 2014: Justyna Kowalczyk is ‘best ever’ Polish Winter Olympian

Sochi 2014: Justyna Kowalczyk wins her second gold and fifth medal ever to become Poland's most successful Winter Olympian

History woman: Justyna Kowalczyk Photo: Frankie Fouganthin/Wikimedia Commons

Justyna Kowalczyk has become the most successful Polish Winter Olympian of all time after winning her fifth medal in the ladies’ cross-country 10km classic.

The 31-year-old surpassed the four-medal haul of ski jumper Adam Malysz despite suffering a fractured foot before the games had even begun.

Kowalczyk pulled out of Tuesday’s sprint freestyle and she believes this was a key decision that enabled her to completely focus on this race.

It’s taken a lot of years of hard work and this is the fourth gold in the history of Poland, so I think that is something big

Justyna Kowalczyk

“I was fighting with myself and with this injury,” she said.

“It’s taken a lot of years of hard work and this is the fourth gold in the history of Poland, so I think that is something big.

“I was one of the favourites and I really believed I could do it but the last three or four kilometres were really tough on my body so I had to fight.”

Kowalczyk only other gold came four years ago in Vancouver when she won the 30km classic, though she has also secured Olympic silver and bronze twice.

The four-times world champion beat Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla, who won the 10km event in Vancouver, to the line by 18.4 seconds.

Kalla achieved a national record on her own by equalling Toini Gustafsson’s four Olympic cross-country medals.

Norway’s Therese Johaug also earned a place on the podium, narrowly winning bronze by two seconds.

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