Javelin thrower Johannes Vetter demands new flooring for competitions

Dhe anger over the circumstances surrounding his failure at this summer’s Olympics is still felt. And has consequences. “Next year I will only throw at systems that I know I won’t break my feet there,” announced Johannes Vetter, the world’s strongest javelin thrower: “I’m not doing anything like Gateshead or Thum or Tokyo anymore times.”

In order for him and his trainer Boris Obergföll to avoid unpleasant surprises, such as the two experienced in Japan, they contacted the major manufacturers of stadium coverings. “We will roll out a few test tracks here in Offenburg,” announced the national coach. “We will tune the tracks.”

At the World Championships in Eugene (Oregon) and at the European Championships in Munich in the coming year, at the World Championships in Budapest in the next but one and at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, the muscleman from Offenburg with the fastest start of his profession and with the most powerful stepping step should not start skidding again, but bring your strength to the ground and the spear to the furthest flight curve. “It’s not about creating an advantage for Johannes Vetter,” assures Obergföll: “We want to create equal opportunities. It is currently not available. ”Vetter talks about standardizing the railway.

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The newly developed surface in the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, with its thin surface and airy, springy surface, helped runners to achieve best times and records. The 105 kilogram cousin, world champion of 2017 and with 97.76 and 96.29 meters the outstanding javelin thrower of 2020 and 2021, therefore found no stop in the most important competition of his career. He slipped away.

At Obergföll’s intervention, the organizers cooled the topping with mountains of ice cubes in the hope of hardening it. The result: the floor continued to bounce and was also slippery because of the wetness. In ninth place with 82.52 meters, Vetter retired early in the final.

It’s about 24 square meters

“I’ve won everything before the Olympics since 2020, and after the Olympics I had the greatest distance in every competition,” said the 28-year-old: “This season was the best of my life – except for the Olympics. I don’t have to look for an excuse. I know: If the surface had been harder, I would have had them all in the bag. ”With his 17th competition of the year, he ended his sporting year on Sunday at the Istaf in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium – with a winning distance of 88.76 meters.

It’s about 24 square meters: the last six meters of the (four meters wide) approach. There athletes like cousins ​​put a leg into the ground at full speed, putting up to a ton of weight on their foot and thus gaining energy for throws of up to ninety meters. That didn’t work in Tokyo. The Pole Marcin Krukowski, second in the annual best list with 89.55 meters, and Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott from Trinidad, a ninety-meter thrower, were the most prominent of those who failed in the qualification. There is no question that they support Vetter and Obergföll’s initiative. “The fact is,” says Vetter: “Where I stand, the others are too.”

Underground tuner: Johannes Vetter pleads for new flooring.


Underground tuner: Johannes Vetter pleads for new flooring.
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Image: Imago

The Indian Neeraj Chopra, Olympic champion from Tokyo with 87.58 meters, and the Czechs Jakub Vadlejch and Viteszlav Vesely, second with 86.67 and third with 85.44 meters, finally stood on the podium, but they don’t need a hard floor. You could also throw at sand, claims Obergföll. “We’re walking in open doors,” he reports from his underground initiative: “The problems with the run-up have never been so blatantly recognized as in Tokyo.” Vetter adds that it’s not just about great distances, but also about injury prevention the protection of bones, muscles and ligaments.

Will thick, hard ground automatically be laid for the javelin throwers at the next major championships? After the manufacturers, the organizers have to be convinced that in Munich, where the European Championship will take place in the 1972 Olympic Stadium, the authority for monument protection will probably also be there. “We will still have to fight a few windmills,” says the national coach.

The tuning of the underground is nothing new for Obergföll and Vetter. “Do you want our javelin throwers to win medals?” The trainer asked the floor manufacturer when he and his athletes realized that the track was slippery before the 2018 European Championships in Berlin. The crucial meters were sanded down and hardened with two buckets of glue as it holds the granulate underneath together.

“An invasive minimal effort”, as Obergföll says, an investment of almost five hundred euros paid off. Christin Hussung and Olympic champion Thomas Röhler won the title, Andreas Hofmann came second. Vetter, injured at the time, was fifth. “I will make sure that everyone can achieve their maximum performance,” promises Vetter. Also and above all: himself.

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