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Barbora Spotakova, greatest female javelin thrower in history, retires

Barbora Spotakova

Czech Republic’s Barbora Spotakova competes in the women’s javelin final during the Diamond League athletics meeting at Stadion Letzigrund stadium in Zurich on September 8, 2022. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Barbora Spotakova, a two-time Olympic champion and world record holder in the javelin, retired at age 41, according to the Czech Republic track and field federation.

She made the announcement Friday at her favorite restaurant in the center of Prague, “where she always liked to go for a pint of Pilsner,” according to the federation.

Spotakova competed for the last time at Thursday’s Diamond League Final, placing fifth after feeling ankle pain in her warm-up, according to meet organizers.

“I am just a bit sad for my performance, but there are also worse things to happen,” she said, according to organizers. “It is just sport. It was not the worst and not the best performance. For me, it is just a big success to be here and compete. After [last month’s European Championships in] Munich, I felt so tired that I did not want to compete anymore.”

Spotakova, the gold medalist in 2008 and 2012, is one of two women to win multiple Olympic javelin titles, along with East German Ruth Fuchs in 1972 and 1976. Fuchs later admitted to using steroids during her career.

Spotakova, who had sons Janek in May 2013 and Darek in 2018, is the only woman with three total Olympic javelin medals (including her bronze in 2016). She placed 14th in her fifth and final Olympics in Tokyo.

She was an All-American in the javelin for the University of Minnesota in 2002. In 2004, it was fellow Czech Jan Zelezny, the men’s javelin world record holder, who recommended to a 23-year-old Spotakova to give up the heptathlon and focus solely on the javelin. Zelezny coached Spotakova for several years during her prime.

She broke the world record in 2008 with a 72.28-meter throw (more then 237 feet). Nobody other than Spotakova has been within two and a half feet of the record since.

With Spotakova’s retirement, Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the lone active 2008 Olympic female track and field champion still competing in her gold-medal event.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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