BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
 You are in: Special Events: 2001: World Athletics: Our man at Edmonton  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Tennis
Golf
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

  Sunday, 12 August, 2001, 22:18 GMT 23:18 UK
Jan the man
Jan Zelezny
Jan Zelezny launches the javelin in Edmonton
By BBC Sport Online's Tom Fordyce in Edmonton.

There is no such thing as a sporting certainty.

Marion Jones and Haile Gebrselassie have reminded us of that in the last 10 days.

But, proving lightning could not strike in the same place three times, Czech javelin thrower Jan Zelezny duly delivered with another gold medal performance on Sunday.

Zelezny is the best the world has seen, by a long, long way.

  Jan Zelezny
Born: 16 June 1966
World record holder
98.48m - May 1996

Olympics
1988 - second
1992 - first
1996 - first
2000 - first

World Championships
1987 - third
1991 - did not qualify
1993 - first
1995 - first
1997 - ninth
1999 - third
2001 - first

He has won gold at the last three Olympics - something no one had done since 1924 - and now has three World titles too.

His world record of 98.48m, set in Jena five years ago, is unlikely to be beaten for a number of years.

"Maybe it is something in the genes," he says.

"My parents were both javelin throwers; my mother was the Czech champion.

"I had the javelin in my hand since I can't remember when."

At 35 years of age, he shows little sign of losing his prodigious powers.

He set a new championship record of 90.76m in qualifying with an almost casual effort.

Even to the casual observer he looks like a champion.

While he may not have the sheer bulk of some of his rivals, nor the height, he has an arm that is the most effective sling the world has seen since David lobbed a pebble at Goliath.

After the Olympics of 1996 he even had a try-out as a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.

Despite comparing himself to Michael Jordan, who at the time was also trying his arm in a different sport, the offer of a contract never came Zelezny's way.

Speed wasn't a problem. It's just his arm was programmed for distance rather than accuracy.

Faced with a horde of intrigued American journalists, he ended his first session by grabbing a baseball and hurling it over the boundary fence 275 yards away.

Zelezny is sponsored by a Finnish internet company.

Javelin throwing being the unofficial national sport of that country, it was a deal that made sense.

Every schoolchild in Finland knows who Jan the Man is.


I have to be strong - if you are psychologically weak you will lose
Jan Zelezny

"When you can't beat someone, you purchase them," said the company director who signed him up.

So far there has been no word on whether Edmonton will represent the great man's final bow.

He hasn't ruled out hanging on for a tilt at a fourth Olympic title in Athens in three years time, but he'll be 37 by then, and the old body will be creaking at the seams.

"There are three things for me to continue," he says.

"Health, of course, and results. I don't want to be invited to meets just because of my name.

"Third, psychologically I have to be strong. In sport, if you are psychologically weak, you will lose."

The name is likely to live on. His son, also named Jan, is apparently showing all the signs of developing a similarly useful arm.

World Athletics Championship site

Statistics section

In-depth coverage

Our man in Edmonton

Clickable guide

Internet links

FORUM

SPORTS TALK
See also:

11 Aug 01 | World Athletics
03 Aug 01 | Our man at Edmonton
Links to more Our man at Edmonton stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Our man at Edmonton stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales