Barbora Spotakova in action at the Czech Championships in Tabor (© Jan Kucharcik)
Barbora Spotakova proved she is well on track to take her third successive Olympic javelin title later this summer by throwing a world lead of 66.87m to win at the Czech Championships in Tabor on Sunday (19).
The 34-year-old’s mark catapults her to the head of the 2016 rankings, and makes her the athlete to beat with less than two months to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Spotakova’s throw came in the first round and surpassed her season’s best by more than three metres. However, the Czech star also backed it up with a decent 63.04m throw in the fifth round.
“Definitely I am back on the scene,” said Spotakova, who holds the world record at 72.28m. “I hoped to be around the level of 65 metres so I was overwhelmed after the first round. After the first attempt, it was very difficult to stay focused because I was very happy, so after that I threw for the crowd.”
Spotakova has struggled with a foot injury in recent years, but revealed that she is now pain-free and looking forward to re-asserting her dominance in the event later this summer.
“Finally nothing hurts me and I get very good feelings from throwing,” she said. “I hope the same feelings will come back to me in Rio again.”
The host city of Tabor, in the south of Czech Republic, played host to a thrilling two days of competition as the country’s top athletes tested their shape prior to the upcoming European Championships next month.
The men's javelin and high jump were affected by heavy rain so the number of attempts was limited. However, former world champion Vitezslav Vesely coped best with conditions, taking the title with a biggest throw of 77.92m.
In the men’s high jump, Jaroslav Baba stopped jumping at 2.12m after securing the title.
For the first time, the prologue to the championships was held outside the stadium, with the shot put final taking place in the local Zizka Square. Tomas Stanek reached 20.39m in the third round to take gold.
“I did not expect to throw so far because I had a slight backache, but I loved the special atmosphere in the city,” he said.
Second place went to Ladislav Prasil, the bronze medallist from the 2015 European Indoor Championships, who managed a best of 20.19m.
Hruba on a high once again
World youth champion Michaela Hruba once again showed her potential by equalling her national junior record in the women’s high jump, clearing 1.93m to take the victory on Saturday.
The 18-year-old from Brno, who finished second at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo earlier this month, also had decent but ultimately unsuccessful attempts at 1.96m.
“I still feel my ankle a bit so I did not know what to expect today,” said Hruba. “But the great support of the full stadium pushed me forward.”
There was another notable performance in the men´s 100m. Jan Veleba fulfilled the qualification standard for the European Championships in Amsterdam by clocking 10.28 to take the national title.
Another qualifier for the championships came in 400m hurdles as 19-year-old Vit Muller ran 50.45 and in the women’s pole vault, 21-year-old Rebeka Silhanova improved her PB to 4.40m and beat 2012 European champion Jirina Ptacnikova.
In men´s pole vault, the bronze medallist from the last European Championships Jan Kudlicka took gold with a best clearance of 5.55m.
Drahotova shows versatility
The championships also provided the opportunity for athletes to test their shape at different distances.
European 20km race walk bronze medallist Anezka Drahotova traded her walking shoes for racing spikes, competing over 5000m and finishing sixth in 17:10.61. Victory went to the second fastest woman in Czech history, Simona Vrzalova, in 16:41.00.
Heptathlete Katerina Cachova, the winner at the recent Kladno TNT Expess Meeting, won gold in the 100m hurdles in 13.08 (+1.9m/s). “After Kladno, we basically only relaxed but still I felt a bit tired in the morning so I’m glad I managed to show a nice result,” stated Cachova, who also recorded 6.17m in the long jump.
Hammer thrower Lukas Melich secured his 11th national title despite struggling with his technique from the outset, but nonetheless recorded a highly respectable winning throw of 74.88m. In the women’s equivalent, Katerina Safrankova improved the championship record with 71.06m.
Zuzana Hejnova did not start in the women’s 400m hurdles as she continues her recovery from an achilles tendon injury and Denisa Rosolova chose to focus on the flat 400m, and gained a comfortable win in 53.95 shortly after the competition was interrupted due to a thunderstorm.
Zuzana Trojakova for the IAAF