Jan Zelezny at the 1997 IAAF Grand Prix final in Fukuoka (Getty Images) © Copyright
Feature 14 A1ugust 1999

Sevilla 99 Preview Jan Zelezny enjoying athletics

One of the best javelin throwers ever Jan Zelezny of Czech Republic is going to the World Championships in Seville with the highest goals. He is not even worried about getting a place on the podium: nowadays he is happy to be back after last year’s accident and surgery.

Here he speaks to sports journalist and statistician Alfonz Juck:

What is your health situation?

"It is very good, I do not have any problems at all. But I must admit it is not 100%, but that was also the case in the past. With some things it cannot be better, we are getting older."

Did you expect to compete again?

"It was very hard. In last year after the accident and surgery, I would not believe that in July next year I will throw over 89 metres."

Can you win in Seville?

"I hope so, but it is even. We are some seven throwers and any one of us can win.

My advantage is that I’m coming back. I mean psychologically. I won that title already twice. Nothing will happen in case I will not win. The others have not this title, so they are under bigger pressure. I must add that in the javelin winning is also a matter of luck."

What is your motivation after so many years and so many medals?

"My motivation is the last year’s accident. As everybody knows I broke my arm and the whole career was in danger. Now I am back earlier than expected. This is my motivation - to show everybody that I can come back. In 1997 I was tired, also mentally. It really was hard to find any motivation. Now I had my challenge after the accident. I am now enjoying athletics. I like to compete. But if I need something else - I go fishing. There is no more stress and pressure. The win in Paris helped me a lot. Now athletics is giving to me something - in past years I gave something to athletics. I am happy I got this feeling. "

Happy as everything went before the World Championships?

"Yes, I wanted to compete in Monaco and London, I never had Zurich in my plan. The first one was one of the competitions where I did not have enough luck. I tried, but it did not work. In the last attempt I got some small problems with my leg, but this is now ok."

Can you throw all the six attempts in one competition?

"Of course, the problem is I’m not as consistentas before. That needs more time in training of technique. Also Mondo surfaces are a problem for me: they are a little too hard. I’m also little bit afraid about the qualification and final in Seville with one day between. There should not be injury problems, but I can feel the pain in my hand."

What do you think will be necessary for a gold medal?

"I think 90 metres will be enough, maybe even not that. It is not a Grand Prix meeting. Mentally the World Championships final is far tougher. In mental strength I feel very strong. I want to surprise all of them with my first throw. As I did in Barcelona at the Olympics. It is good to see that my opposition is still respecting me. "

Who is for you the main opposition?

"I think Sergey Makarov is looking very good. He never had in the past a big medal, it could be his time. Also the Greek Gatsioudis and the Germans seem in great shape. Parviainen is the strongest of us, on Mondo he can be very good. But with him you never know. Excellent thrower for competitions is Steve Backley. As I said there are like 7 of us, who could win."

This year javelin was part of Golden League, but not you...

"I think the idea of Golden League is good. I will be also at the Grand Prix finals. But this year I really was unable to throw everywhere. No secrets, I want to better my financial situation and so I´m looking at the meetings. The World Championships is something different. That is above everything, above every economic consideration."

What about your business activities?

"I stopped them for a while. Everything is directed for Seville. And I want also give time to my family. By the way, my son Jan (he will be eleven years old in September) and daughter Katka (9) are playing badminton and it is not bad."

When will be the end of your career?

"I do not think about it. I’m happy I’m back. To compete in Sydney will be very nice, a fourth Olympics is something special."

Do you think you can still in future throw over 100 metres?

"Never say never. This year I was able to throw 89 metres and it was technically very bad. Maybe the ideal attempt will come..."

Alfons Juck for the IAAF