Helena Fibingerova - Czechoslovakia - World Champion & at three European Champship medals.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 13 July 1974

Click on image to enlarge

      Wednesday, 13 July 1949
      Vicemerice, Czechoslovakia
  • Czechoslovakia
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Helena FIBINGEROVA - Czechoslovakia - World Champion & at three European Champship medals.


Helena Fibingerova had an impressive international career, which included world records and medals at Olympic Games and European Championships, but she had to wait until late in her career before realising her dream of winning a gold medal at a major international championships. At her first European Championships at Athens in 1969, Fibingerova finished tenth with a best throw of 15.22m, well behind the winning throw of 20.43m of Nadezhda Chizhova (Soviet Union), which set a new world record. Fibingerova improved her personal best to 16.77m in 1970. In 1972, Fibingerova competed in her first Olympic Games, at Munich. Despite throwing 18.81m, she finished in seventh place, and once again behind a new world record by Chizhova of 21.03m. However, Helena's performances were improving rapidly and in 1973 she crashed through the 20 metres barrier, finishing the year with a personal best of 20.80m.


In September 1974, she won the bronze medal at her third European Championships in Rome, once again behind Chizhova. Later that month, on 21 September, Fibingerova exceeded Chizhova's world record with a throw of 21.57m, but the mark was not ratified as a record. At the 1976 Olympic Games at Montreal, Fibingerova gained a bronze medal, with a throw of 20.67m, finishing behind Ivanka Khristova (Bulgaria) and Chizhova. On 26 September 1976, Fibingerova broke Khristova's world record of 21.89m with a throw of 21.99m on her first attempt and with 21.90m on her second attempt. The next year, on 20 August 1977, at Nitra, she broke her own world record, once again on her first attempt, with throw of 22.32m. (Ron Casey)




Following her two world records in the shot put in 1976 and 1977, Helena Fibingerova was favoured to win the gold medal at the 1978 European Championships in Prague. However, her dominance of the event was challenged that year by Ilona Slupianek (East Germany), who relegated Fibingerova to second place. In 1980, Fibingerova produced good marks early in the season, with a best of 21.53m at Prague on 24 May, but unfortunately, she missed the Olympic Games in Moscow that year due to a back injury, and Slupianek won the title easily. At the 1982 European Championships in Athens, Slupianek prevailed again, while Fibingerova finished second with a throw of 20.94m. It seemed that Fibingerova was destined to always be the bridesmaid at major championships, having gained an Olympic bronze medal, as well as two European silver medals and a bronze between 1974 and 1982.


Fibingerova's breakthrough finally came at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki. Typically, Fibingerova produced her longest throws in the early rounds. Indeed, in her two outdoor, unofficial outdoor, and indoor world records, her record-breaking throw had come in the first round on all four occasions. Therefore, at Helsinki, when she was lying in fourth place after five rounds, she seemed out of medal contention. However, on her last throw, she threw 21.05m to snatch the gold medal. Fibingerova was overcome by the emotion of the moment, throwing kisses to the crowd, and then bear-hugging each of the startled shot officials in turn. She was still wearing an enormous grin at the victory ceremony (see photo above). Fibingerova's career slowly petered out after this victory. She finished 10th at her sixth European Championships (a record for a female athlete) in 1986, and 8th at the 1987 World Championships. (Ron Casey)



21.57 metres on 21 September 1974 in Gottwaldov
21.99 metres on 26 July 1976 in Opava
22.32 metres on 20 August 1977 in Nitra

Her 1977 record stood until 2 May 1980, when East German Ilona Slupianek improved it by four centimetres.

Fibingerová held the indoor world record with 22.50 metres, achieved on 19 February 1977 for decades.