Barbora Spotakova in the javelin at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
Feature London, UK

Spotakova: Zelezny’s Olympic triple is the next goal

Olympic gold medals normally don’t come easy. But Barbora Spotakova must have wondered what was going on, when she dominated the Javelin Throw and would have won the event with each of her four valid throws. For a second time in a row the Czech athlete became the Olympic Champion. Throwing 69.55 metres she was more than four metres ahead of her nearest rival. Only once in Olympic history had there been a bigger winning margin in this event than in London: Cuba’s Osleidys Menendez had taken the gold medal in Athens 2004 being almost six metres ahead.

"I feel amazing. I was healthy and had belief in myself to be successful. But actually it was not so difficult to win the gold medal tonight," said Spotakova regarding the standard of the event. "But what was really diffcult, was to cope with all the pressure. In the Czech Republic the pressure was building strongly, because I was the big favourite."

Spotakova will now have a legendary status in the Czech Republic since she has defended the Olympic gold. Only one other woman had managed this in the Javelin Throw before: Ruth Fuchs from the former German Democratic Republic had taken the Javelin gold medals in 1972 and 1976. There is of course one Czech thrower who has collected a record three Javelin gold medals in a row between 1992 and 2000: Jan Zelezny, who happens to be Spotakova’s coach.

"It is now the second year that I work with Jan Zelezny. My coach won three times at the Olympics, so I want to achieve that as well. He is a great idol to have in the Czech Republic," said Spotakova. "My preparations for London had started two days after I had won in Beijing in 2008." When the three medal winners were asked if they would be back for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 it was only the Czech who answered straightforward: "I will be there." The 31-year-old also spoke about the advantage of having so much experience now.

In contrast to her gold medal win in Beijing this was really the opposite. Her first throw would have been well enough for the gold in London, while four years ago she had only secured the Olympic title with her very last throw. The pressure in Beijing had been enormous since she needed to overtake Mariya Abakumova, Russia, who had been in the lead with 70.82m. Barbora Spotakova threw 71.42m. It was shortly after that when she broke the World record, throwing 72.28m in Stuttgart. This record still stands today.

Spotakova had once come to the sport because of her parents. Her mother used to do throwing while her father was a 400m runner. As a youngster naturally Spotakova did multiple events. She became a heptathlete at first and seemed to be on her way to world-class. At the World Junior Championships 2000 she was fourth with 5689 points. In the same year she had achieved her personal best of 5873. An injury was the reason why she finally turned to the Javelin Throw. "I was already 21 when I concentrated on the javelin. Today obviously I am very happy to have chosen that event", said Spotakova, who grew up in Jablonec in the northern part of the Czech Republic.

Rudolf Cerny was her coach but there was already a connection to Zelezny before he took over. They both start for the same club, Dukla Prag. And it was after she had been in a training camp with the group of Jan Zelezny in South Africa in 2004 that she threw beyond 60 metres for the first time. Having collected a silver medal at the European Championships in 2006 she then became World champion for the first time in 2007. Two silver medals followed at these championships in 2009 and 2011.

Asked if there was a special moment when she was a child that had an influence on her future success Spotakova answered: "I simply wanted to be always the best. That has driven me on to where I am now."

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF