Barbora Spotakova breaks the javelin world record in Stuttgart (© Getty Images)
One throw, $130,000, competition over!
It was a ‘good day at the office’ for Barbora Spotakova, the World and Olympic Javelin Throw champion who in damp conditions on the opening day of IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, not usually conducive to good javelin throwing, produced a World record of 72.28m with her opening release to win $30,000 for first, and a bonus of $100,000 for the record.
With only eight previous 70m+ throws in the history of the new women’s spear which has been in use since the start of the decade, the Czech’s opener of course ended all notion that this event would be a competition.
If the audience in the Mercedes-Benz Arena was stunned, then so was Spotakova who sat out all but the last of her remaining three attempts (World Athletics Final has a four round schedule), with an understandably limp 58.39m to close her afternoon.
It was appropriate way to begin as Spotakova had always been characterised as an opening round thrower until this summer. In Osaka 2007 she had launched her first effort to a 66.40m Czech record, which while not winning the competition did enough to intimidate the opposition so much that when she let loose her 67.07m third round throw that would take the gold medal, her major opponents were still contemplating how to respond. At the 2006 and 2007 World Athletics Final, Spotakova had won this title before with her first throws, respectively 66.21 and 67.12.
The manner of the Czech’s win in Beijing had changed Spotakova’s reputation as it wasn’t until the very last round that the 27-year-old had produced her 71.42 European record to take the laurels. Her Beijing performance even surprised Spotakova - “I usually win with my first throw. I’ve never won with my last attempt. This is the first time.”
So normal service was resumed today! Spotakova’s World record came as the fifth throw of the first of four rounds, smashing Cuba’s Osleidys Menendez’s 71.70 World record which had been set at the 2005 World championships in Helsinki.
"The World record, this is strange because I did not expect it, its unbelievable," said Spotakova. "I did not feel very good this morning."
"Jan Zelezny (retired men's World record holder) called me in Beijing when I threw the European record and he will be delighted that both Javelin World records are held by Czech athletes."
"With the money ($130,000) I will probably build a house with my boyfriend, we might also get married in 2009."
Christina Obergföll, whose bronze in Beijing had been Germany’s only medal of the 2008 Olympic Games track and field programme, was second today with 63.28, also in round one, and making it very much a one hit event, Germany’s European champion Steffi Nerius was third with her opening 62.78.
While resurfaced three years ago with a new green coloured all-weather surface, this Stuttgart runway was also the scene of previous World record history when Britain's Fatima Whitbread had launched the old specification spear to 77.44m in the qualifying round of the European championships on 28 August 1986.
Chris Turner for the IAAF