Špotáková qualifies first in javelin

Former Gophers thrower Barbora Špotáková will try to defend gold.

Megan Ryan

Former Gophers thrower Barbora Špotáková will aim to defend her Olympic javelin gold medal after qualifying in first place Tuesday in London.

Špotáková threw 66.19 meters to top the 12 Olympians who will compete in the final.

Olympic competition is nothing new to the Czech. She was the first Gophers women’s track and field Olympian when she traveled to Athens in 2004. She won the event four years later in Beijing with a distance of 71.42 meters.

Just a month after her gold medal performance, she set the world record of 72.28 meters that has yet to be challenged.

Špotáková spent only a season with the Gophers in 2002, but she accomplished a lot in a short period of time. She earned All-America honors in the javelin and competed at the NCAA championships in the heptathlon. She returned home to the Czech Republic that year.

The gold medal is Å potáková’s to lose in Thursday’s final, as she is the favorite.