German javelin throwers have been dominant this year, recording the 10 best throws of 2017. Thomas Röhler and Johannes Vetter are the favorites to win gold at the world championships in London.
Everything changed for Johannes Vetter (pictured above) on July 11th, 2017. It was on that day in Lucerne that he set a new German record in the javelin with a throw of 94.44 meters. Prior to that, nobody had thrown the 800 gram (28 ounces) and 2.70-meter-long (8.9 feet) projectile that far for more than 20 years. However, this was just the start of a big night for the 24-year-old Vetter, who broke the 90-meter mark with four of his throws in Lucerne.
Suddenly, Vetter had become the favorite to take gold at the IAAF World Championships.
"It took me a while to recover from it, because it was an exhausting competition, both mentally and physically. Then you go into a slump, not because you want to rest, but because inwardly you tick a box," Vetter said. "This happens when you have finally achieved the distance you had been striving for."
The reason that Vetter is not the sole favorite but only one of the favorites is due to his German teammate, Thomas Röhler.
Six German javelin throwers make the cut
The gold-medal winner at last summer's Rio Olympics also started the season with a bang back in May. After a throw of 93.3 meters, he surpassed the 90-meter mark in two other meetings. Vetter and Röhler are just two of six German javelin throwers who qualified for the world championship, but only a maximum of three may compete in London.
German javelin coach Boris Obergföll wasn't surprised by the success of his charges.
"Over the past two or three years, we have worked continuously towards cracking the 90-meter mark," Obergföll said." In cooperation with experts from the Institute for Applied Teaching Science in Leipzig, we have looked for the smallest-possible way to optimize our discipline. This led to this rocket-like improvement."
Öbergföll also dismisses any doubt that such progress could not have been achieved through purely clean methods by pointing to the numerous drug testing that his athletes have undergone in 2017.
Individualists working together
Obergföll, whose best distance during his active career was 90.44 meters, has also managed to take a group of individuals and form them into a team. Several times a year, the national team coach gathers together his athletes and the coaches at their clubs for workshops.
"We compare notes on training methods. Each of them can pick up on something that is working for another and try it out", Obergföll said. "Each athlete's actual training, though, remains individual, it just wouldn't go well if the wiry Thomas Röhler were to try and train the same way as the more muscular Johannes Vetter."
However, the joint training camps are not just about about hard work. They hang out together in their spare time. And a video has emerged, in which they poke some fun at their disipline.
Winning medals is the goal
Röhler, Vetter and the third German javelin thrower competing in London, Andreas Hofmann, will be aiming to profit from this unity at the world championships on Saturday.
"When you have a teammate at your side, it gives you a boost," Vetter said, "We will joke around in the call room, and even in the warm up - and support each other," Röhler added. "It's only when it comes to the actual throw that each will be focused solely on his individual performance"
It is no secret that winning medals is their main goal in London, given their performances this year, anything less would make no sense. However, this doesn't mean they are about to underestimate the competition.
"Some of them have the class to come up with a really long thow," Röhler said. "We will be ready."