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26 Jul 1976
Montreal 1976

Nemeth throws off father’s shadow - Javelin Throw

When Miklos Nemeth decided to take up the javelin there was more pressure at stake than for most athletes.

The Hungarian had the added burden of having a father, Imre, who had struck Olympic gold in the hammer at the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

However from the moment Nemeth Jnr opted for the javelin it was clear he had made the correct call, and a clutch of university and collegiate triumphs followed.

However, his initial big stage performances proved disappointing.

At 22, he failed to get through the qualifying rounds of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, while in Munich four years later he was a distant seventh and unable to throw over 82m .

However in Montreal it was a different story. He arrived at the 1976 Games unburdened by expectation after a string of below-standard performances at the top level.

He reached the 16-strong final easily enough, recording the second furthest throw of the qualifying rounds at 89.28m, but the likes of Finn Hannu Siitonen and the Pole Piotr Bielczyk were expected to eclipse him.

However Nemeth had other ideas and in the opening round produced one of those magical moments that  are only ever seen at the Olympic Games.

Dressed in all white, the elegant Hungarian launched into his run-up for his first effort and sent the javelin floating across the Olympic Stadium.

He tiptoed back and back, never taking his eye off the missile which seemed air-bound for an eternity.

Finally the javelin came down to earth and Nemeth immediately jumped for joy. He knew he had produced a potential gold-medal winning throw.

Moments past, and Nemeth watched impatiently as the officials measured his effort and then posted the distance on the scoreboard.

There were gasps around the stadium as the board read 94.58m. Nemeth had broken the world record by half a metre, effectively bringing the contest to a premature end.

In London 28 years earlier, Nemeth’s father Imre had posted his winning effort in the final round of the hammer. Nemeth Jnr clearly didn’t fancy leaving it that late.

Staggeringly, he eventually won by almost seven metres with Siitonen settling for the silver and Romania’s Gheorghe Megelsea taking the bronze.

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