The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
With a fourth round 69.55m, Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic tonight became only the second woman and the first since Ruth Fuchs (GDR; 1972 / 76) to retain the Olympic Javelin Throw title in an event which was first contested in 1932.
The competition was not on the same level as the epic battle of her first title in Beijing where the Czech had a spectacular 70m+ duel with Russia’s Maria Abakumova. Any prospect of a repeat was dashed as Abakumova, the World champion ahead of Spotakova last summer in Daegu, was in terrible form and didn’t even make the top-8 cut for the final three throws, finishing in 10th (59.34).
The story of this final was simple. In round one Spotakova, throwing first of the 12 finalists, produced 66.90 to take the lead which she never relinquished or looked like losing. Throwing second South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen, the African record holder, and world season leader (69.35) coming into the final, took a short lived silver medal position with 64.53, while the penultimate thrower Christina Obergföll of Germany the bronze medallist in Beijing unleashed 65.16 to relegate the South African to bronze.
We weren’t to know but in this first volley of spears the gold and silver medals had been decided. Spotakova was to build a solid series (66.90, 66.80, 66.24, 69.55, x, x), while Obergföll never improved, in fact intentionally foot fouling her remaining shorter efforts. It was only the fate of the bronze which was left to be decided.
Behind the three medal positions, China’s Huihui Lu who had been in fifth with her initial 59.97, pounded out 63.28 with her second which overtook her Germany's Kathrina Molitor’s first effort of 62.89, to move into fourth. The third German Linda Stahl, the European bronze medallist, who had opened with 59.49 improved to 63.24 in the same round but remained in sixth, Latvia’s Madara Palameika improved to 60.73 for seventh and Australia’s Kathryn Mitchell held onto the eighth spot (59.46).
In the third round the excitement came very late with Slovenia’s Martina Ratej, throwing in 10th, launching her spear to 61.62, which relegated the Australian out of the top-8, ending her final. There were no other changes.
With the throwing order reversed for the beginning of the second half of the final, Stahl made the big move up the table into bronze with a season’s best of 64.91, lowering Viljoen to fourth who could not respond.
But it was Spotakova, throwing last in the same round, who for the first time got the crowd energized by this final, not an easy achievement considering the start of this final was scheduled after the men’s 800m and 200m, and the World record of Rudisha and the Jamaican sweep led by Bolt in the 200m which resulted.
Spotakova, whose approach to the throwing line is so reminiscent of her coach Jan Zelezny, was as fast and as fluent as ever on the runway, propelling her spear to 69.55, which inflicted further pain on Viljoen as it supplanted the South African as world season leader.
Aside Huihui Lu improving to 63.70 in the fifth round and which moved her into fifth, with the three medallists fouling their last two throws, and Viljoen not bettering her opening effort, that was the final over.
"I didn't even dare to think about it in this competition. I didn't realise it but it will come tomorrow," said the double Olympic champion. "I said to myself this evening, I have got lots of experience and I am healthy and I am 100%. I believe in myself."
"My coach (Zelezny) has won it (Olympics) three times so I still have things to do. I feel amazing. I am 31 years old, I have got so much experience and I am feeling healthy."
"It was a really strange competition this evening. The stadium was half-empty but the atmosphere was great. And these Olympic Games are the biggest experience for athletes."