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September 23, 2000
Zelezny rockets into history
Czech Jan Zelezny defied the advancing years as he won an unprecedented third successive Olympic javelin gold on Saturday to carve his name into the history books.
The veteran performer, dogged by a raft of back and shoulder injuries in recent seasons, blasted out a throw of 90.17 metres with the third of his six throws to secure the title. The 34-year-old Zelezny, world champion in 1993 and 1995 and the current world-record holder, is the first competitor, either man or woman, to win three Olympic javelin golds.
Great Britain's Steve Backley took the silver with 89.85 and Sergey Makarov of Russia took the bronze with 88.67.
The 31-year-old Backley had to be content with the lower steps of the podium again after winning a silver and bronze in the last two Olympic Games.
Aki Parviainen of Finland, the world champion, finished a disappointing fifth while Konstantinos Gatsioudis of Greece, this year's top performer with 91.69 metres and with a 1997 bronze and 1999 silver already in his cabinet, was a further place back.
Zelezny had been expected to retire after he missed the 1998 season with a serious injury but, against all the odds, made a successful comeback last year by winning a bronze in the world championships. His success in Sydney was all the more remarkable considering his problems with a nagging rib injury in the lead-up to the Games which stopped him training properly in August. "I could successfully apply for a pension as an invalid," he had said.
Three Olympic golds may be special but it could so easily have been four.
In Seoul in 1988, Zelezny, whose world record stands at 98.48 metres, missed the top of the podium by just 16 centimetres at his first Games.
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