Jirina Ptacnikova

Athlete Profile

    Czech Republic Czech Republic
    20 MAY 1986
Jirina Ptacnikova (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
Pole Vault 4.76 Plzen 04 SEP 2013

Personal Best - Indoor

Performance Wind Place Date
Pole Vault 4.71 Dresden 31 JAN 2014

Progression - Outdoor

Pole Vault

Performance Place Date
2017 4.56 Praha (Václavské Námestí) 20 JUN
2016 4.65 Praha (Strahov) 02 JUN
2015 4.72 Praha (Námestí Jana Palacha) 01 JUL
2014 4.60 Braunschweig 21 JUN
2013 4.76 Plzen 04 SEP
2012 4.72 Praha (Stadion Rošický) 11 JUN
2011 4.65 Daegu (DS) 30 AUG
2010 4.66 Trinec 17 JUL
2009 4.55 Beograd 10 JUL
2009 4.55 Rehlingen 01 JUN
2008 4.28 Pardubice 03 SEP
2007 4.00 Ústí nad Labem 09 AUG
2006 4.23 Praha (Stadion Rošický) 25 JUN
2005 4.15 Manchester (Sportcity) 06 AUG
2004 3.85 Grosseto (Stadio Zecchini) 14 JUL
2003 4.02 Ostrava 12 JUN
2002 4.00 Jablonec nad Nisou 01 JUN

Progression - Indoor

Pole Vault

Performance Place Date
2016 4.66 Praha (Metropole Zlicin) 17 FEB
2015 4.62 Praha (Strahov) 25 FEB
2014 4.71 Dresden 31 JAN
2013 4.64 Stockholm 21 FEB
2012 4.70 Donetsk 11 FEB
2011 4.60 Paris-Bercy (Palais Omnisports) 06 MAR
2011 4.60 Donetsk 12 FEB
2011 4.60 Praha (Strahov) 14 JAN
2010 4.60 Doha (Aspire Dome) 14 MAR
2010 4.60 Donetsk 06 MAR
2009 4.40 Praha (Stromovka) 22 FEB
2008 4.13 Bad Oeynhausen 29 FEB
2007 4.22 Praha (Stromovka) 27 JAN
2006 4.15 Praha (Strahov) 20 FEB
2004 4.11 Eaubonne 29 FEB
2003 3.90 Praha (Strahov) 19 FEB

Honours - Pole Vault

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Championships London 2017 9q2 4.35 London (Olympic Stadium) 04 AUG 2017
The XXXI Olympic Games 10q1 4.45 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 16 AUG 2016
15th IAAF World Championships q1 NM Beijing (National Stadium) 24 AUG 2015
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014 2 4.70 Sopot (Ergo Arena) 09 MAR 2014
14th IAAF World Championships 8 4.55 Moskva (Luzhniki) 13 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 6 4.45 London (Olympic Stadium) 06 AUG 2012
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2012 6 4.55 Istanbul (Ataköy Arena) 11 MAR 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 7 4.65 Daegu (DS) 30 AUG 2011
13th IAAF World Indoor Championships 5 4.60 Doha (Aspire Dome) 14 MAR 2010
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 8q2 4.40 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 15 AUG 2009
10th IAAF World Junior Championships f NM Grosseto (Stadio Zecchini) 16 JUL 2004
3rd IAAF World Youth Championships 5 3.90 Sherbrooke 13 JUL 2003
IAAF/Coca Cola World Junior Championships f NM Kingston (NS), JAM 18 JUL 2002

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Updated 3 August 2012

Jirina PTACNIKOVA, Czech Republic

(Pole Vault)

Born: 20 May 1986, Plzen


Lives: Prague

Coach: Frantisek Ptacnik (father), Zdenek Lubensky

Club: PSK Olymp Praha

It would be difficult to find a Czech athlete, who has participated twice at both the World Junior Championships and European Junior Championships. However, pole vaulter Jirina Ptacnikova managed to compete at all the four championships between 2002 and 2005.

Each time she got into the final and the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston, Jamaica, is especially remarkable as she was only 16 there, although she did not manage to clear her opening height in the final (and the same unhappy scenario repeated itself at her next World Junior Championships in Grosseto, Italy).

Ptacnikova, who started with coach Pavel Beran and is coached now by her father Frantisek and pole vault specialist Zdenek Lubensky, also competed at the 2003 World Youth Championship held in Sherbrooke, Canada.

As one of the medal hopes of the Czech team, Jirina did not disappoint. At 3.90m, five vaulters remained in the competition and the Czech athlete was leading without any failures. However, the following height 4.00m was the breaking point for her.

Following two failures, she left her last attempt for the next height, 4.05m. She was not successful and took 5th place.

The 2003 European Junior Championships were also quite successful for Jirina. After a challenging summer, a week after arriving from Sherbrooke Ptacnikova went to the Finnish city of Tampere to fight again.

As the second youngest participant in the Tampere final, she finished an excellent sixth place and cleared 3.90m again.

In 2005, the European Junior Championship took place in Kaunas, Lithuania. Now 19, it was the last event in this category for Ptacnikova before moving into the seniors. The qualification period was filled with health problems, while she struggled with a sore Achilles tendon, and she was not initially part of the Czech team  but she was added late after a competition in Prague where she went over 4.00m.

The unusual decision of the Czech Athletic Federation management paid off. After a golden three – Hejnova, Scerbova, Machura – she became one of the best placed other athletes on the national team, finishing just off the podium in fourth place, jumping her then season’s best of 4.10m.

In 2006, at the European Athletics Championship in Göteborg, she didn’t get beyond the qualification rounds when she only cleared the height of 3.80m.

"Great weather, great conditions, and I spoiled it. I'm sorry, I was in shape. I guess I was over-motivated," she said at the time.

However, at the end of the season, she confirmed her improved form in the city of Uherske Hradiste at the national U23 championships, where she won in a championship record and a personal best of 4.27m.

The following season, in 2007, Jirina struggled with immunological problems which hindered her development that season.

“I underwent many tests and visited many doctors but nobody knew what was wrong with my body,” she described the toughest period of her sports life.

By 2008, she gradually started to make her return among the elite. She changed her coach as well as the club. Her father Frantisek started to help her with condition training and the technique was the task of Goroshkov, a former assistant of her previous coach Boleslav Patera.

“I was really suffering for about two years; from 2006 until the end of the season in 2008. I wanted to quit athletics. It does not encourage you when someone tells you that you are unpromising at the age of 21. My parents, who both used to be athletes, helped me a lot and my dad then started to coach me. He believed in me and I started to train in Plzen,” added Ptacnikova.

Moving to the sports club PSK Olymp Praha, to be closer to her boyfriend and top 110m hurdler Petr Svoboda, helped Jirina a lot.

In 2009, she qualified for the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torino, Italy, and pushed her personal best up to 4.40m. In Torino, she again didn’t qualify for the final, jumping 4.25m, but she gained valuable experience at her first big international event in almost two years.

She used it to her advantage in the summer, gaining a victory at World University Games in Belgrade, where she equalled her personal best of 4.55m.

"It was a very long competition because after 4.20m they raised the bar by only five centimetres. I felt quite tired; I have had enough competitions, so it definitely was not easy. But again, I managed it well mentally and the attempt at 4.55m was a success, it was really a perfect one," Ptacnikova said after the contest.

The best Czech pole vaulter was nominated at the World Championships in 2009, where she for several reasons, did not get through qualification.

“I was average, I'm not even excited ... but yes, I am sad," said Ptacnikova who did not get the poles that had gone missing before the Berlin championships.

Despite what happened in Berlin, she placed in the top 10 of the poll for the Czech Athlete of the Year for the first time, finishing ninth.

“In 2009, I improved my PB by about thirty centimetres. Mentally I felt very good and that helped me a lot that year. The sports club PSK Olymp offered me better training conditions and the atmosphere is more family-orientated there. I was also very motivated to show what was inside me,” said the former member of sports army club Dukla Praha, who quit her university studies at the Prague police academy after her return from the World Student Games.

Jirina managed to peak in the 2010 indoor season as well. She set an absolute personal best of 4.60m twice and the World Indoor Championships brought her an excellent fifth place, the same result as her boyfriend Peter Svoboda in the 60m hurdles. "For Petan (nickname of Peter Svoboda), the fifth place is perhaps kind of disappointing, but I would not have thought that I would have finished fifth even in my craziest dream. Being fifth in the world thanks to an equalled personal best and, if I had one failed attempt less, I could have been fourth with Yelena (Isinbayeva)," she said enthusiastically.

"I learned from the qualification where I was worried and today I enjoyed it. I'm still smiling," she added.

She also added more centimetres to her absolute outdoor personal best, raising it to 4.66m at the national championships mid-July. 

The 2010 European Athletics Championships confirmed her elevation to the world's elite with her finishing fifth and only a failure at the height one centimetre below her personal best kept her out of the medals.

"Fifth place is nice, but the same performance was enough for the second place. It made me a little upset, but on the other side, who's fifth in Europe? It's kind of satisfaction-dissatisfaction," she assessed.

In the Czech Athlete of the Year poll, Jirina moved to fifth place in 2010.

In Paris, at the 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships, she finished out of the medals again, in a tie for fourth place. In qualification, she needed her third attempt to get over 4.55m to secure the last spot in the final.

The final itself went well until 4.60m; then she missed her first two attempts at 4.65m and had an unsuccessful last effort at a would-be national indoor record of 4.70m.

"I am very satisfied, the attempt at 4.60m was a superb one, it equalled my indoor personal best. I just missed a little luck, when the bar didn’t stay on the supports at 4.65m. I thought that I could have had a bit of luck and get a medal, as I missed it in Barcelona too, but what we can do," she reflected.

In the spring, the media reported that her boyfriend Petr Svoboda got engaged with Jirina.

The summer of 2011 initially started well for Jirina. In June, She achieved third place at the European Team Championships, in Stockholm, jumping 4.60m. By contrast, the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham the following July, with its English weather, was a disaster for Ptacnikova. She did not clear her starting height of 4.31m and decided to take a break. "I’m sorry, but it will benefit me greatly, when I now have at least 14 days’ time to train and regenerate. Today I was suffering in the sector and I need to get a new motivation," she said after the competition.

Since her return, she competed in the main square in Kutna Hora on 7 August and flew over 4.63m, winning in a new Meeting record.

"I almost jumped also 4.73m, I was over the bar and as I began to celebrate, I knocked it off. It’s a big shame, but I am happy that I was back in good shape," she described.

Ptacnikova expected bad weather in Daegu but was not nervous about it. “I actually like jumping in extreme weather conditions, when it is hot or cold. I do not jump well in the so-called ideal conditions, as I jumped the best when there was rainy or windy weather," Jirina revealed before leaving to Korea from Prague. But it was very sunny and hot and still, Ptacnikova, who paints her nails to match the colour of her kit before every competition, did well. She jumped 4.65 in the final to finish seventh with the same height as Yelena Isinbayeva (only more failures prevented her from better placement). But she was still happy about the result: “I am 100% satisfied.”

The Olympic year started with a great indoor season for Ptacnikova. Winning the prestigious Pole Vault Stars competition in Donetsk with a new national indoor record 4.70 in February, she was ready to fight for medals at the World Indoor Championships. But jumping 4.55 in Istanbul meant only sixth place. “I do not know what happened; I thought it would be much better today.” Jira or Jirinka, as she is called by her friends, had decided to end the cooperation with Nikolai Goroshkov after 4 years before leaving for Turkey and had started to work with a new coach, Zdenek Lubensky. Outdoors, she proved it was maybe a good decision and that the new PB in February in Ukraine was not just a coincidence. After a solid spring campaign, in June at the Odlozil Memorial in Prague she also improved her outdoor personal best with 4.72.

Maybe it was a surprise for many athletics fans, but Ptacnikova triumphed in the pole vault final at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki. In her preferred rainy conditions she cleared 4.60 at her first attempt – as she had her previous heights – winning on countback as Strutz and Kiriakopoulou had registered several failures. “It was a rain of happiness for me today,” she described the final. She managed to calm down after the chaotic qualification and performed in very good mood: “I was enjoying the competition and was not nervous at all. It was a different story comparing to the qualification.” (Editor’s note: 11 athletes had cleared 4.40 in qualification, while Ptachnikova, who had passed at 4.40, then cleared 4.45. Although 12 athletes were qualified for the final at that point, officials had obliged the other 11 to also attempt 4.45.)

“Maybe another rain of happiness will come for me in London,” she guesses and admits she plans a big wedding with her fiancé Petr Svoboda after the Olympic season.

“Maybe another rain of happiness will come for me in London,” she guesses and admits she plans a big wedding with her fiancé Petr Svoboda after the Olympic season.

Personal Best

Pole Vault: 4.72 (2012), 4.70 m indoors (2012)

Yearly Progression

2001: 3.20; 2002: 4.00; 2003: 4.02; 2004: 4.11i, 3.90; 2005: 4.15; 2006: 4.27; 2007: 4.22i, 4.00; 2008: 4.28, 2009: 4.55; 2010: 4.66; 2011: 4.65; 2012: 4.72 (PB)

Career Highlights

2002   q          World Junior Championships (Kingston)  3.80 

2003   5th       World Youth Championships (Sherbrooke)  3.90 

2003   6th       European Junior Championships (Tampere)   3.90 

2004    q         World Junior Championships (Grosseto)  3.85 

2005   4th        European Junior Championships (Kaunas)  4.10 

2006    1st       European Clubs Cup (Valencia)   4.20

2006    q         European Championships (Göteborg)   3.80        

2007    5th      European Clubs Cup (Albufeira)  3.90

2009    1st      World Universiade (Belgrade)  4.55 

2009    q         European Indoor Championships (Torino)  4.25 

2009     5th     European Team Championships (Leiria)  4.45 

2009     q       World Championships (Berlin)  4.40 

2010    5th     World Indoor Championships (Doha)    4.60 

2010    5th     European Championships (Barcelona)   4.65 

2010    1st     European Team Championships First league (Budapest)  4.50

2011    4th     European Indoor Championships (Paris)  4.60 

2011    3rd     European Team Championships Super League (Stockholm)  4.60 

2011    7th     World Championships (Daegu)  4.65

2012    6th     World Indoor Championships (Istanbul)   4.55

2012   1st     European Championships (Helsinki)     4.60

Prepared by Zuzana Trojakova for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2011-2012

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