Hattestad finally wins javelin gold

2000-09-30 22:21

Sydney - Norway's Trine Hattestad added an Olympic gold medal to her extensive collection of women's javelin honours on Saturday - but it took a long haul of five Games to get there.

The 34-year-old mother of two has taken part in every summer Games since Los Angeles in 1984 but an Olympic gold had been practically the only prize to elude her.

Hattestad put that right in Sydney with her first throw in the final of 68.91 metres, a new Olympic record.

"I thought it was a good one and I would have to throw far to beat it," said Hattestad.

She couldn't beat it and she didn't have to.

Mirella Maniani-Tzelili of Greece was next best, taking silver with a throw of 67.51 metres ahead of Osleidys Menendez of Cuba who recorded a throw of 66.18 metres.

Hattestad, who first noticed she had a talent for throwing when lobbing snowballs and stones as a schoolgirl, has already broken the world record twice this season with the redesigned javelin now used in competition.

She has won both the World and European Championships but her best Olympic performance before Sydney was a bronze in 1996.

"This is my fifth Olympics and to finally take the gold medal is unbelievable," said Hattestad.

"I think it tastes even better when you try that many times."

Hattestad, also a useful league handball player before deciding to concentrate on the javelin, has shown herself to be a tough competitor both on and off the field.

She threw 65 metres when pregnant with one of her two sons.

Hattestad was banned after a drugs test showed traces of a steroid in 1989 but battled successfully to have the ban overturned.

She argued that the positive test was due to a hormone in her contraceptive pills and also successfully sued the Norwegian Atletics Federation for loss of earnings caused by the ban.

Having at last won Olympic gold, Hattestad may be ready to contemplate retirement -- but not just yet.

"I think I'll have one month of rest and then I'll think about what I'll do," she said.