Legendary Latvian javelin thrower Jānis Lūsis passes away

Olympic javelin champion “Considered one of the greatest javelin throwers of all time” (New York Times), Jānis Lūsis died after battling cancer, according to World Athletics on April 29.

The eighty year old had participated in four olympic games, winning a full set of medals - gold, silver and bronze. He is also four-time European champion, twelve-time USSR champion, ten-time Latvian champion and a two-time world record holder in the javelin throw.

Lūsis set his first world record in 1968 when he threw 91.98 meters in his first throw at a competition in Finland, besting Norwegian Terje Pedersen's record by a whole 26 centimeters. He set his second record in Stockholm in 1972 before the olympic games, improving it to 93.80 meters and besting the record set by Finnish athlete Jorma Kinnunen. By coincidence Kinnunen's son currently coaches Latvian javelin athletes Līna Mūze and Zigismunds Sirmais.

According to athletics statistician Andris Staģis, Lūsis competed in the javelin throw 274, but didn't win only 75 times. He demonstrated great consistency by breaking the 90 meter barrier in 15 competitions and the 80 meter barrier in 147 competitions. The great athlete had also competed in the decathlon, even raking 5th in the world in 1962.

In 1987 the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which is now World Athletics, dubbed Lūsis the world's all-time best javelin athlete on his 75th birthday. In 2014 he was inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame.

The javelin legend married fellow Olympic javelin champion (and European champion and former record holder) Elvira Ozoliņa. Their son Voldermārs Lūsis also made it to the 2000 Olympics in the javelin throw and carried the Latvian flag during the opening ceremony in Sydney.

Latvian Television filmed a documentary about the athlete called “Latvian Sports Legends. Jānis Lūsis.”, however it's only available in Latvian:

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