Barbora Spotakova in action in Kladno (© AFP / Getty Images)
Victories by javelin aces Barbora Spotakova and Jakub Vadlejch highlighted the opening meeting of the Czech Athletics Federation's 'Back on the Track' series which kicked off in the central Bohemian city of Kladno on Monday (1).
Spotakova, who has held the world record in the event for nearly a dozen years, prevailed in the afternoon's most fiercely contested head-to-head. The two-time Olympic and three-time world champion opened with a modest 57.31m effort, but took command of the competition with a 63.69m throw in the second, her best toss since May of last year.
Nikola Ogrodnikova, the 2018 European silver medallist, fouled on her first two attempts but fought back with a 62.92m effort in round three. Neither improved over the next three rounds, however, leaving Spotakova with the win.
"I set the goal a little more carefully, 60 metres, and I believed that I would throw quite easily," said Spotakova, who also reached 62.81m in the final round. "Basically, I fulfilled that already in the warm-up, then I didn't catch it that much during the competition. At least one throw came off and I think there is still some reserve, which is great."
In the men's competition, Vadlejch produced just one measurable throw, an 84.31m toss in the first round, good enough for the victory. Given that he only threw farther on three occasions last year, his 2020 debut bodes well.
Petr Frydrych, one of the rare few who wasn't making his 2020 debut - he threw 79.27 in Pilzen eight days ago - was second with 78.18m.
As expected, Tomas Stanek dominated the shot put, his best a 21.13m throw in the second round, to debut at No. 5 on the early season world list.
But Pavel Maslak, another of the meeting's poster boys, didn't fare as well in the 300m.
Instead, Jan Jirka, a five-time national champion, pulled off an upset win, clocking a 32.82 lifetime best over the rarely-run distance. Matej Krsek fought off Maslak's late race charge to take second in 33.05, with Maslak, a three-time world indoor 400m champion, third, another 0.05 back.
Elsewhere, Jan Kudlicka won the pole vault with a second round clearance at 5.40m before bowing out after three tries at 5.50m, and Marek Barta won the discus with 62.95m.
Lada Vondrova, a 400m silver medallist at the European U23 championships, won the women's 300m in 37.22. Diana Mezulianikova won the 1000m in 2:44.54, a world lead in that rarely-contested event.
The meeting was part of a massive nation-wide effort dubbed Together at the Start, an initiative that witnessed meetings organised in 173 cities, with some 17,000 athletes, across all age groups, competing.
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics