After one of the matches, fans threatened him with burning his car, a bucket of washes was poured over him on the Internet, and in the end Łukasz Romanek could not cope with the pressure around him. It wasn’t until after the drama that fans realized they had a hand in the idol’s death.
WP SportoweFakty / Arkadiusz Siwek / Pictured: Łukasz Romanek
2006, there was no social media and the Internet was just beginning to become a universal source of access to information in Poland. Speedway fans exchanged arguments and insults not on Twitter or Facebook, but on chat rooms. This is where mud was poured on Łukasz Romanek 16 years ago.
Until the morning of June 3, 2006. One of the fans wrote that the police and the prosecutor showed up in front of the RKM sprinter’s house in Wilcza, because the former European junior champion committed suicide in his home studio. The rumor was quickly confirmed by the facts. Łukasz Romanek committed suicide on the evening of June 2, hours after training, after finding out he was in the squad for the next league game.
On June 3, fans gathered at the ul stadium. Gliwicka to light candles on the track. In a place where the pilot of the RKM circuit had trained, the test begins a dozen hours earlier. Someone prepared a photo of Romanek with the inscription “we are sorry”, because the fans were convinced that painful reviews were pushing the player to a desperate step.
The talent of pure water
Łukasz Romanek got his speedway license in 2000. He came around when the Rybnik club started going straight and training became the apple of the eye of chairman Dominik Kolorz. In addition, the executive revolution in the “Sharks” team allowed promising talents. Romanek confirmed his skills the following season, when he unexpectedly became the European junior champion.
Romanek didn’t have it easy at Rybnik, as good juniors came from the same generation – Roman Chromik, Rafał Szombierski and Łukasz Szmid. It happened that one of them had to land outside the warehouse. The situation was further complicated by the calculated match average, which limited the possibility of building a team based on last season’s average point. All so CEOs don’t build dream teams.
This text might not have been written without the events of June 2002, when Łukasz Romanek collided with Robert Miśkowiak in the final of the Polish Youth Championships. He did not suffer any fractures, but was diagnosed with a head injury. At first, doctors kept him in a coma.
For several years, a tournament in memory of Łukasz Romanek was held in Rybnik
RKM were then fighting for promotion to the Ekstraliga and there was pressure for Romanek to return to the track soon. To the surprise of the fans, he was included in the squad after a few weeks break. He even won the first race. Only later was it worse. More and more often it was possible to notice that after the accident the milkman was mentally blocked. He cut the gas in simple situations, he didn’t fight like before.
– This accident had a big impact on Łukasz’s life. He may have had some hidden trauma after this accident. It could also have influenced his decision to kill himself – said Piotr Pyszny, one of the main speedway riders of the Rybnik team in the 1980s, then the sponsor of Łukasz Romanek, after the tragedy.
Honored by fans
Romanek’s poor performance in the league left fans frustrated. Especially since the player was much better in individual competitions, which came with less pressure. At home, he managed to win the title of Polish junior champion in the 2003 season.
The situation was not helped by the fact that the “sharks” also began to depress. In 2004 the club was finally granted a place in the Ekstraliga, but the lack of strong reinforcements meant that the team lost games and were the main candidate for relegation. At the same time, Romanek was able to eg. win a bronze medal at the Polish Junior Championships.
Coach Jan Grabowski, who taught him speedway craft, saw the former student just over a month before the tragedy. – He told me about the fan campaign, especially the negative opinions written on the Internet. He was also called and his mobile number changed because of it. He was even threatened to burn the car – said Grabowski in “Gazeta Wyborcza” about the pressure on Romanek.
Even then, some advised Romanek to change his surroundings, that he would clear his head at his home club and it would be easier for him to regain his high temper. – I want to compete at home – repeated the pupil of “Sharks”, rejecting the idea of transfers to Częstochowa or Bydgoszcz.
“Do not make fun of me”
Off the track, Romanek was a secretive and withdrawn person. When he won the title of best junior in the country in front of his own public, he shouted on the podium. When he could not cope with the pressure, some RKM activists suggested that he start working with a psychologist. Only that at the beginning of the 21st century, such help was valued completely differently.
“Don’t laugh at me,” Romanek said when advised to seek expert help. Only after the tragedy that occurred on June 2, 2006, RKM activists directly admitted that the player had suffered from depression for a long time.
Rybnik fans remember Łukasz Romanek
The 2006 season was supposed to be a breakthrough for him. In winter, he travels to Australia at the invitation of Ivan Mauger and wins the prestigious Golden Helmet series, organized by the six-time world champion. Then he started competing in Britain. Many thought his riding style would be in perfect harmony with the short, technical circuits of the UK. However, Romanek in Lakeside Hammers colors failed to impress and eventually lost his place in the squad.
He also didn’t have a certain place in Rybnik’s warehouse. He was often placed in reserve with 8/16 and left for the game when his teammates were not doing very well. In his last training he impressed with his starts, he won most of the races with his friends. After its completion, as if nothing had happened, he washed the bikes and announced that he was ready to fight for points in Leszno. Nothing foreshadowed the worst.
Where to look for help
If you are in a difficult situation and want to speak to a psychologist, call the free number 116 123 or 22 484 88 01. You will also find a list of places where you can seek help. [TUTAJ].
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