Jarmila Kratochvílová

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Jarmila Kratochvílová
Jarmila Kratochvílová.jpg
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing  Czechoslovakia
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1980 Moscow 400 m
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1983 Helsinki 400 m
Gold medal – first place 1983 Helsinki 800 m
Silver medal – second place 1983 Helsinki 4x400 m relay
European Championships
Silver medal – second place 1982 Athens 400 m
Silver medal – second place 1982 Athens 4x400 m relay
European Indoor Championships
Gold medal – first place 1981 Grenoble 400 m
Gold medal – first place 1982 Milan 400 m
Gold medal – first place 1983 Budapest 400 m
Gold medal – first place 1984 Gothenburg 200 m

Jarmila Kratochvílová (Czech pronunciation: [ˈjarmɪla ˈkratoxviːlovaː] (About this soundlisten); born 26 January 1951, in Golčův Jeníkov)[1] is a Czech former track and field athlete.[2] She won the 400 metres and 800 metres at the 1983 World Championships, setting a world record in the 400 m.[3]

In 1983, she set the world record for the 800 metres, which still stands and is currently the longest-standing individual world record in athletics. Only two athletes, Pamela Jelimo of Kenya (2008), and Caster Semenya of South Africa (2018), have come within a second of Kratochvílová's mark since it was set.[4]


In 1983, Kratochvílová broke the 800 m world record with a time of 1:53.28. At the World Championships shortly afterwards, she set a world record of 47.99 seconds to win the 400 m.[5]

Kratochvílová's 1983 400-metre world record of 47.99 seconds stood for two years until it was broken by her great rival Marita Koch in 1985. Koch's 400-metre world record of 47.60 seconds still stands as of 2020.[6] Koch and Kratochvílová are the only women who have broken the 48 second barrier in a 400-metre laned race.[6] Her 800-metre world record is the longest standing track record in men or women's athletics, and was described by 1996 Olympic champion Svetlana Masterkova as ".. very fast. It's impossible for women to run so fast. It will last for 100 years."[7]

Kratochvílová was a late developer, not breaking 53 seconds for the 400 metres until she was 27, and she was 32 when she set her world records.[8]

Allegations of drug use[edit]

Her remarkably fast times and her atypical muscular physique[9] spawned rumors of illegal drug use.[10] Kratochvílová has maintained her innocence, and although in 2006 the Prague newspaper Mladá fronta DNES claimed to have uncovered a doping program run by Czechoslovakia's Communist government, there was no link to Kratochvílová despite her being her country's highest profile athlete.[11] She and her coach of 20 years, Miroslav Kvac, maintain that it was rigorous training and high doses of vitamin B12 that account for her records, a claim treated with scepticism by several anti-doping campaigners.[12] In 2017, she criticized a proposal by European Athletics to remove suspicion about drug-taking by voiding all world records set before 2005.[12]


Since her retirement, Kratochvílová has worked as an athletics coach and with the Czech national team.[13]


  1. ^ Jarmila Kratochvílová. Sports Reference. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Jarmila Kratochvílová". databaseolympics.com. Roto Sports. Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Jarmila Kratochvílová". sporting-heroes.net. Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Senior outdoor 800 metres women» All time best". IAAF. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  5. ^ Matthews, Peter (2012). Historical Dictionary of Track and Field. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8108-7985-0. LCCN 2011048496.
  6. ^ a b Senior outdoor 400 metres women IAAF. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  7. ^ Rogers, Iain (24 November 2012). "Russians could break 800m record, Kratochvilova says". Reuters. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  8. ^ Turnbull, Simon (4 September 2010). "After a quarter of a century, Koch remains untouchable". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  9. ^ McClelland, Edward (25 August 2011). "Unbreakable: The women's track and field record book needs to be expunged". Slate. broad-shouldered […] more like a middleweight boxer's than that of a middle-distance runner
  10. ^ Wharton, David (4 August 2009). "Doping at the L.A. Games? Ignorance was bliss". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  11. ^ Gillon, Doug (30 July 2013). "With clear evidence of doping comes every justification for deleting records". Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Track's Most Resilient (and Suspect) Record Is in Danger". New York Times. 15 June 2017. p. SR1.
  13. ^ "30 Years On". IAAF. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2019.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Marita Koch
Women's 400 metres World Record holder
1983-08-10 - 1985-10-06
Succeeded by
Marita Koch
Preceded by
Nadezhda Olizarenko
Women's 800 metres World Record holder
1983-07-26 —
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Marita Koch
United Press International
Athlete of the Year

Succeeded by
Martina Navratilova
Preceded by
Marita Koch
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Evelyn Ashford