Jakub Vadlejch was named Czech Athlete of the Year for the second year in succession at the annual televised gala evening in the Hotel Ambassador in Prague on Saturday (5) evening.
After winning Olympic silver in Tokyo last year, Vadlejch broke the 90 metre-barrier for the first time in his career with 90.88m in Doha and the Czech added another two medals to his collection with bronze at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon and silver at the European Athletics Championships in Munich.
Vadlejch also finished the year ranked second on the 2022 world list with his early season mark of 90.88m behind Grenada’s Anderson Peters who threw 93.07m in the same competition in Doha before going on to win the world title in Oregon.
"I'm happy about the medals, but I'm even more happy that I threw ninety metres for the first time this year. Ninety metres was a lifelong dream,” said Vadlejch.
It was also a significant year off the track for Vadlejch who became a father for the first time. His wife Lucia, who competed internationally for Slovakia in the combined events and 400m hurdles, gave birth to their daughter Emma in April.
Preparations for the 2023 season have also started in earnest for Vadlejch who will be training in the Canary Islands in the winter months in preparation for an assault on a gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. "It would be very nice, I have silver and bronze from the World Athletics Championships, so I'm missing one more metal," he said.
Javelin throwers dominated the main awards on Saturday evening. In her farewell season, European bronze medallist Barbora Spotakova finished second in the voting behind Vadlejch - the 15th time Spotakova has ranked inside the top-10 in the voting since 2005 - and his coach Jan Zelezny was named Coach of the Year for an unprecedented seventh time. This matches the seven Czech Athlete of the Year trophies he won in his legendary career which included three Olympic titles and the still-standing world record of 98.48m.
Heptathlete Dorota Skrivanova, who made significant improvements in both the pentathlon and heptathlon this year and made the Czech teams for the World Athletics Indoor Championships and European Athletics Championships, won the Breakthrough of the Year award while European U18 800m champion Jakub Dudycha was named Junior Athlete of the Year.
The gala also celebrated the careers of a number of great Czech athletes who announced their retirements in 2022. Not only did Spotakova depart from the stage this year, two-time world 400m hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova, 2015 European indoor 1500m champion Jakub Holusa, Petr Frydrych and Jan Kudlicka also drew their esteemed careers to an end this year.
Top 10 Czech Athletes of the Year
- Jakub Vadlejch (javelin) 1527 points
- Barbora Špotáková (javelin) 1301
- Tomáš Staněk (shot put) 1231
- Vítězslav Veselý (javelin) 970
- Kristiina Mäki (1500m) 602
- Nikola Ogrodníková (javelin) 597
- Men’s 4x400m relay 471
- Radek Juška (long jump) 299
- Eliška Martínková (20km race walk) 242
- Patrik Šorm (400m) 238
Photos from Soňa Maléterová / Czech Athletic Federation