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Saturday, September 23
Czech star might now give it up

SYDNEY, Australia -- World record holder Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic became the first man in Olympic history to win the javelin gold medal three consecutive times.

He did it breaking his Olympic record Saturday night, with a throw of 295 feet, 9½ inches (90.17 meters).

Three Olympics, three golds for Jan Zelezny

Zelezny, who set the Olympic mark of 294-2 (89.66 meters) at Barcelona in 1992, shattered it with his third throw of the night to overtake the early leader in the event, Steve Backley of Britain.

Backley's throw of 294-9½ (89.85 meters), his best of the season, was good for the silver. The bronze went to Sergei Makarov of Russia with a throw of 290-10½ (88.67 meters). Makarov's father, who watched the competition, won the silver medal in the event at Moscow in 1980.

"I'm feeling great, but I don't feel like a historic man," Zelezny said.

The gold medal followed shoulder problems that threatened to end the Czech's career following his gold at Atlanta, when he became the first thrower to retain an Olympic javelin championship since 1924.

"I throw for all the doctors who helped me," he said. "My shoulder, if you look at it, it's very bad, but it's throwing very well."

Backley continues to pursue Zelezny. He won the bronze at Barcelona and silver at Atlanta.

"I thought my first throw was reasonable at 86 (meters)," he said. "I barely made the event. I knew it would be a long night."

American Breaux Greer finished last in the final, throwing 262-2½ (79.91 meters).

Zelezny, who once had a tryout as a pitcher with the Atlanta Braves, set the world record in the event with a throw of 323-1 (98.48 meters) in 1996. He was the silver medalist in the javelin at Seoul in 1988.

Zelezny was asked if he would come back and try for a fourth gold medal in 2004, when he will be 38 years old.

"Four more years," he said. "My wife will kill me, maybe."


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