The men's javelin throw has been contested at each Olympic Games since 1908. Two men, Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway and Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic, have won the last five Olympic golds in the event. The following list takes a look at the last five men-extending back to 1980-who have earned the Olympic javelin throw title:
Andreas Thorkildsen: Thorkildsen took the javelin throw gold in Beijing with an Olympic record distance of 90.57 meters. The victory in 2008 gave him two Olympic titles, following on his win in 2004 in Athens. Thorkildsen also has four medals from World Championships to his credit-including the gold in 2009. He took the silver at last year's World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, and should be a medal favorite again this summer at the London Games. Other notables to watch for include Matthias de Zordo of Germany-last year's world titleist and Tero Pitkamaki of Finland-the Olympic bronze medalist in 2008.
Jan Zelezny: The winner of three Olympic javelin throw golds between 1992-2000, Zelezny is considered by many observers to be the greatest javelin thrower in modern history. His winning throw in 2000 was 90.17 meters, 88.46 meters in 1996, and 89.66 meters for his first Olympic victory in 1992. Zelezny defeated top rival Steve Backley at both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics-relegating the British standout to the silver medal each time. Years after his retirement, Zelezny is still the owner of the five best-ever javelin throws. His world record distance of 98.48 meters was set in 1996, and it could easily remain the world standard for a long time to come.
Tapio Korjus: A native of Finland, Korjus hurled the javelin 84.28 meters at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul to defeat rising Czech star Jan Zelezny. Korjus secured his Olympic victory on his final attempt. Other than his Olympic gold, Korjus had a relatively undistinguished career in international athletics.
Arto Harkonen: Harkonen won the Olympic javelin gold for Finland at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Harkonen's best throw was 86.76 meters to surpass the 85.74 meter throw of silver medalist David Ottley of Great Britain.
Dainis Kula: Kula, competing for the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, led a Soviet one-two finish in the javelin throw, with teammate Alexsandr Makarov taking the silver. The final was a controversial one for many reasons, most notably because there was significant doubt about any of Kula's preliminary throws being legal. However, he remains the recognised Olympic champion in the event for 1980.