Spotakova is in seventh heaven

Barbora Spotakova’s magnificent 2014 has gained further reward with her being named the Czech Republic’s Athlete of the Year for the seventh time – and it was quite a night for her team.

Second behind her was her javelin teammate Vitezslav Vesely while Jan Zelezny, their guiding force, was named as Coach of the Year.

On returning to the sport after becoming a mother, Spotakova produced a brilliant performance to win gold at the biggest event of the summer, the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August, with a winning throw of 64.41m.

A few weeks later she was crowned IAAF Diamond League champion to show that in her absence she has lost none of the powers which had brought double Olympic gold and the world record of 72.28m which is now over six years old.

At a ceremony in Prague, just five months before the city stages the European Athletics Indoor Championships, the strength of Czech track and field was very much on show.

Spotakova was first ahead from a poll of 132 officials, coaches and members of Czech athletics followed by Vesely, a training partner who won silver in Zurich.

Third was Pavel Maslak, who won world indoor 400m gold in Sopot in March and is now back from injury as he prepares to defend his European Athletics Indoor title in front of his home fans.

Spotakova paid tribute to the people closest to her as she received her award.

She said: “I said last year here it will be tough to return from maternity. I must admit it was not, but I achieved that only with help of my family and friends.”

When Spotakova won in Zurich, she did something that Zelezny never managed as she became a European champion but his inspiration is a big part of her success.

Being named as Coach of the Year just adds to the illustrious javelin status of Zelezny, whose own career brought three Olympic and three world titles.

If the present is successful, the future of Czech athletics looks good too as their awards nights showed.

The Junior Athlete of the Year was Anezka Drahotova, 19, who won gold in the 10,000m walk at the World Junior Championships in Oregon in July with a world record time of 42:47.25.

And her success in Eugene came on the same day as her teammate Jiri Sykora, 19, who won the world junior decathlon title with 8135 points, a championships record.

That success led to him being named as the Czech Republic’s Newcomer of the Year.

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