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15 Jun 2007
Olympic News

Five-star thrower

Forty-one years old tomorrow and a career marked by commitment! A seasoned athlete, member of the International Olympic Committee and coach, the Czech Republic’s Jan Zelezny reflects the Olympic spirit very well: excellence, solidarity and friendship. Let’s take a look at the triple Olympic javelin champion who declared when receiving his medal in Barcelona in 1992: “I am Czech and my wife is Slovak… This medal is Czechoslovakian. It’s not politics that counts, but friendship.”

The recipe for success created by Zelezny
Take five editions of the Olympic Games: Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004; three consecutive Olympic gold medals and three Olympic records; add to this three world titles and five world records, including the current world record; add an Olympic silver medal and two World Championship bronze medals; mix it all together with over 100 victories in various competitions, and you get the pedigree of Jan Zelezny. The qualities of the Czech javelin thrower are immense. Especially as the discipline is far from easy…

The basic ingredients of the javelin
The javelin event appeared for the first time at the London Olympic Games in 1908. Throwing is made up of five phases: in the first, the athlete does a “start and carry” toward the launch area, the javelin held at forehead height; in the next two, he does a faster run, called an “approach run”, which finishes with a push off on the left leg, named the “hop” or “cross step”, the throwing arm set behind the head; in the fourth, while trying his best to keep his hip, knee and right foot turned forward, the athlete launches the right shoulder upwards so that the javelin leaves his hand when it is vertical to his left foot; in the last phase, the “recovery”, the athlete regains his balance in order not to come off the end of the runway.
What velocity, vivacity, precision, control and strength! And is it necessary to have a throw that is as elegant as it is impressive to succeed!
The first Olympic record was set by Sweden’s Eric Lemming in London in 1908 with a throw of 53.69 metres; the last is that of Jan Zelezny in Sydney in 2000 with a throw of 90.17 metres. In addition to the Olympic record, Jan Zelezny holds the current world record with a throw of 98.48 metres in Jena, Germany, in 1996.
Distinctions galore
On two occasions he was winner of the “Jiri Guth-Jarkovski prize” awarded by the Czech Olympic Committee for the best sports performance of the year; named best athlete in Europe in 1996 and 2000 and best athlete in the world in 2000; decorated with the Medal of Merit by the President of the Czech Republic in 2001; elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission in 1996 and the “IOC 2000” Commission in 1999; and IOC member from 1999 to 2001, and re-elected in 2004 as an active athlete.
This non-exhaustive list shows that the world of sport holds Jan Zelezny in high esteem. And as if further proof of his worth were needed, the Czech athlete has embarked on a career as a coach, in order to give back to sport what it has given to him.



(Czech Republic)

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