Javelin-thrower Špotáková triumphs in Zurich but expresses dismay over overall performance

Barbora Špotáková, photo: ČTK

Czech javelin-thrower Barbora Špotáková clinched the only medal which had still eluded her on Thursday- gold at the European Athletics Championships. The two-time Olympic champion and world record-holder in the women’s javelin, though, was not at her best and it took until her 5th throw to pull away from fellow competitors.

Barbora Špotáková, photo: ČTK
64.41 metres is well off of her own world record in the javelin of 72.28 and less than “the 65” – as a Czech TV reporter put it on Thursday – she can usually throw almost on demand. But it was enough. Following four lackluster throws, in which she failed at one point to clinch even 60, Špotáková went from second place to first, edging Serbian Jelacova who had thrown 64.21 metres before her. Although a final series of throws remained, there was a sense that Špotáková’s fifth was good enough. Here’s how sports reporter Michal Dusík described the scene on Czech TV:

Barbora Špotáková, photo: CTK
“Go Bára, go! The javelin is in the air and it’s a good throw! It is the best we’ve seen so far…”

Afterwards, Špotáková was self-critical: happy to have won, certainly, at the same time dissatisfied with her performance.

“It is a great feeling to have won but I am not sure if I should be proud of how I threw. Things were starting to look like in a bad dream. But I managed to get by on one good throw. It’s not great, but it was enough. So it’s great to have gotten the title but this is not a performance of which I am overly proud.”

Jan Železný, photo: Ivana Roháčková, ASC Dukla, The Army of the Czech Republic
Špotáková, who not long ago was still on maternity leave, has made her mark: the European title was the only one still missing in her resume, a title her coach, the legendary three-time Olympic and World champion Jan Železný himself never clinched. Her coach and others were her motivation to try and raise her game.

Barbora Špotáková again:

“I knew that the guys hadn’t advanced and the coach was looking a bit down. I realized this was probably my last European Championships and that I couldn’t lose. I had people supporting me, the Czech team, the trainer who got me back into competition after I had my child, my Mum. I am glad that I got the result… So I must also have been born lucky. Some people will say it was easy, but it never is.”

Photo: CTK
Asked about the secret to her consistent success, the athlete said in her view it came down to having good people to work with and always keeping one’s feet on the ground. To work hard and never let good results go to one’s head.