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A Comprehensive Look at the Olympic Javelin Throw

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A Comprehensive Look at the Olympic Javelin Throw

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Jan Zelezny

Stu Forster/Getty Images
The ancient sport of javelin has obvious roots, no doubt evolving from the stone-tipped spears thrown by pre-historic humans. Javelin was an ancient Olympic sport and entered the modern Games in 1908. It was immediately dominated by Scandinavians, who won the first six gold medals. The retirement of three-time champion Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic opened up the men's competition in 2004, permitting a Scandinavian return to glory as Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen won the gold in Athens and Beijing. East Europeans have won most of the women's gold medals, including 2008 champion Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic.

About Olympic Javelin:

Many javelin rules deal as much with spectators' safety as with the competitors. The javelin itself was altered in the 1980s to reduce distance. Learn more about the sport of javelin in the following links.

Olympic Javelin History:

The javelin, which was thrown in the ancient Greek Olympics, became a modern men's Olympic sport in 1908 and a women's event in 1932. Winners have included Babe Didrikson, possibly the greatest all-around female athlete in history, three-time gold medalist Jan Zelezny and the interestingly-named American Cy Young (no, not the baseball player). Check out the following links for more details about javelin throwing history.

Action Image Gallery:

These photos of javelin stars - including long-time rivals Jan Zelezny and Steve Backley - demonstrate the grace and strength of the ancient sport of javelin throwing.

The Athletes:

Take a look at the top 2012 Olympic javelin hopefuls, from the U.S. and around the world, then catch up with some familiar names from the past with these selections.
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