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30 Sep 2000
Sydney 2000

New javelin just the ticket for imperious Hattestad

Norwegian javelin thrower called Trine Hattestad made her debut at the Games way back in 1984. And it was rather an impressive start to her Olympic career, as she finished fifth, just 2.6m short of getting on to the podium.

She returned again in 1988, finishing much further down the field, and then came fifth again in 1992, when many had expected her to make the podium, or even win. In 1996, at her fourth attempt, she won a medal, taking the bronze thanks to a huge final throw.

But then something unusual happened. The javelin was redesigned and all records started again from 1998. Some athletes took to the new javelin, some were less comfortable with it. Hattestad developed a particular liking for it, producing big throws with great consistency. Even though she was now in her thirties, she was now throwing better than ever.

Just before the Olympics, in July 2000, she set a new world record of 69.48m. So she arrived in Sydney full of confidence. At 34 years old, she was fairly sure that this would be her final opportunity to win an Olympic gold medal and she qualified with some ease, setting the third longest distance.

The final was decided by one of the first throws. Hattestad ran up for his first effort and propelled the javelin 68.91m, just shy of her own world record and intimidating the rest of the field. It was a distance that she did not come near to matching over the rest of the contest, but it did not matter. Nobody else came near to beating it either.

Greece's Mirela Manjani-Tzelli threw 67.51m in the third round to move into second place but Hattestad was never challenged. Sixteen years after her confident debut in the Olympic arena, her talent had finally been rewarded with a gold medal.

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