What a remarkable season Barbora Špotáková has had. Just a few weeks after taking gold in the javelin at the Olympics with a new European record, the 27-year-old set a new world record at the World Athletics Final on Saturday. The Czech’s throw of 72.28 m was over half a metre further than the previous world record, set by Osleidys Menendez of Cuba in 2005. Incidentally, the stadium in Stuttgart where Špotáková entered the record books was hosting its last ever athletics meeting, and she says she’ll miss what has been a lucky venue for her:
“No athlete will regret that more than me. I was there at World Athletics Finals three times, and three times I won with a new Czech record – and now I’ve even won with a new world record.”
Remarkably, the Czech Republic now has world records in both the men’s and women’s javelin; the great Jan Železný set the former with a throw of 98.48 m back in 1996. Incidentally, it was Železný who a few years ago convinced Špotáková to give up the heptathlon and concentrate on the javelin. She says she frequently turns to him for advice on technique, and even studied videos of some of his greatest throws prior to her own triumph on Saturday.
Barbora Špotáková is not the first Czech woman to set a javelin world record. One of her predecessors was the legendary Dana Zátopková, who became a record breaker five decades ago, in 1958:
“It was a great performance. I’m not surprised because the last time I saw Bara throwing, at the Olympics, it was clear she was in great physical and mental form. Her technique was great too. I’m really happy for her, and I’m really happy for us, because once again we have a world record.”
The Czech Republic notched up its sixth gold medal at the Paralympics on Sunday, when wheelchair bound archer David Drahonínský came first in the Individual Compound W1. The Czech team in Beijing now has 22 medals overall, including two silver medals and 14 bronze.
In football, all eyes were on Sunday’s Czech league game between Brno and Sparta Prague. The dramatic sending off (and subsequent suspension) of Tomáš Řepka in their last encounter is judged by some to have cost Sparta last season’s title, so many were curious how the hard man defender would behave. Like a gentleman was the answer, at least according to one of Monday’s newspapers. Meanwhile a 2:0 win – with one of those goals a brilliant volley from Karol Kisel – means Sparta maintain their lead at the top of the table.
Later this week they travel to Croatia for a UEFA Cup first round, first leg game against Dinamo Zagreb. Slavia Prague, meanwhile visit Romania’s Vaslui, and Baník Ostrava play host to Spartak Moscow, with police in the city bracing themselves for potential crowd trouble.
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