General News Beijing, China

With second javelin title, Thorkildsen joins elite company

Andreas Thorkildsen sets an Olympic record of 90.57m (Getty Images)Andreas Thorkildsen sets an Olympic record of 90.57m (Getty Images) © Copyright

Beijing“Some days are his, some days are mine,” said Andreas Thorkildsen, when asked about his rivalry with Finn Tero Pitkämäki. But their Olympic days so far belong to the Norwegian Javelin Thrower. In Beijing Thorkildsen defended the gold medal he had won four years ago in Athens. The 26-year-old winner threw an Olympic record of 90.57 metres to take first spot from Ainars Kovals (Latvia), who surprised with a personal best of 86.64m, and Pitkämäki (86.16).

By defending the Olympic gold Thorkildsen is now only one of four javelin throwers in Olympic history who have managed to win their event at two consecutive Olympics. In the early days Sweden’s Eric Lemming (1908 and 1912) as well as Finland’s Jonni Myyrä (1920 and 1924) managed to achieve this feat while of course there is Jan Zelezny (Czech Republic), who is the only one who managed a triple. He won in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000) and could now be followed by Thorkildsen in London 2012.

“If I manage to keep my level of throwing then I will hopefully be able to compete for the gold medal again in London 2012. But that is four years to go, which is quite a long time. A lot can happen until then,” said Thorkildsen, who received the information that Norway’s women handballers had won the gold medal during his warm-up for the final. “I thought that could become a perfect day for Norway if I could add a second gold. So I am happy to have achieved this for my country.”

Compared to his gold medal four years ago in Athens when he won with 86.50 metres, Thorkildsen achieved a much better performance in Beijing. With his first round throw of 84.72m he sent a message to his rivals and took the lead, which he never gave away. The Norwegian then continued with 85.91m, 87.93m, 85.13m and finally 90.57m before he passed his last attempt. So his second best would have been good enough for gold as well.

“I would still not consider my Athens gold medal as a cheap one. I may not have thrown that far, but all the big names were there as well and I won.”

“There is always pressure in such a big final. But I have been in quite a number of major finals now so that I know how to handle this. Still with Tero in a competition you can never be sure if you have won until he had his last throw. He has a lot of potential. He may throw 80 metres in a competition and then at his last attempt throw beyond 90,” said Thorkildsen, who had been beaten by Pitkämäki in last year’s World Championships in Osaka. “I think today he had more in him than he showed.”

“Andreas was very strong today,” Pitkämäki said. “There are more than four metres between us, that shows it. I was a bit surprised about how strong he was. It was my aim to throw beyond 90 metres as well, but I didn’t reach that goal.”

Thorkildsen was proud of his Olympic record, which he took from legend Jan Zelezny. The Czech had achieved 90.17m in Sydney in 2000.

Asked about his future potential and his personal best of 91.59m Thorkildsen explained: “This is an interesting topic in javelin throwing in general. There is always something which could be better – it might be wind or speed. I think you are often close to your potential but you never reach it.”

“Concerning my personal best I might go somewhere where I will have a good tailwind. Then I should be able to throw a bit further than today.” But Thorkildsen doesn’t think much about Jan Zelezny’s 23-year-old world record of 98.48m. “That is quite far away for me at present. Once I am able to throw 94 metres without any wind then I might go somewhere where it is really windy,” he said and joked: “May be Iceland is the place to go, it is pretty windy there.”

But it is Switzerland, not Iceland, which is next on his list. “I will throw in Zurich on Friday and then probably will go to Brussels and Stuttgart,” for the World Athletics Final, said Thorkildsen, who comes from an athletics family. His mother Bente Amundsen was a national champion in the 100m Hurdles while his father Tomm had personal bests of 10.9 seconds in the 100m and 71.64m in the javelin. It was his father who brought him to the sport. At the age of 11 he threw the javelin for the first time.

With second javelin title, Thorkildsen joins elite company

23 August 2008 – Beijing – “Some days are his, some days are mine,” said Andreas Thorkildsen, when asked about his rivalry with Finn Tero Pitkämäki. But their Olympic days so far belong to the Norwegian Javelin Thrower. In Beijing Thorkildsen defended the gold medal he had won four years ago in Athens. The 26-year-old winner threw an Olympic record of 90.57 metres to take first spot from Ainars Kovals (Latvia), who surprised with a personal best of 86.64m, and Pitkämäki (86.16).

By defending the Olympic gold Thorkildsen is now only one of four javelin throwers in Olympic history who have managed to win their event at two consecutive Olympics. In the early days Sweden’s Eric Lemming (1908 and 1912) as well as Finland’s Jonni Myyrä (1920 and 1924) managed to achieve this feat while of course there is Jan Zelezny (Czech Republic), who is the only one who managed a triple. He won in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000) and could now be followed by Thorkildsen in London 2012.

“If I manage to keep my level of throwing then I will hopefully be able to compete for the gold medal again in London 2012. But that is four years to go, which is quite a long time. A lot can happen until then,” said Thorkildsen, who received the information that Norway’s women handballers had won the gold medal during his warm-up for the final. “I thought that could become a perfect day for Norway if I could add a second gold. So I am happy to have achieved this for my country.”

Compared to his gold medal four years ago in Athens when he won with 86.50 metres, Thorkildsen achieved a much better performance in Beijing. With his first round throw of 84.72m he sent a message to his rivals and took the lead, which he never gave away. The Norwegian then continued with 85.91m, 87.93m, 85.13m and finally 90.57m before he passed his last attempt. So his second best would have been good enough for gold as well.

“I would still not consider my Athens gold medal as a cheap one. I may not have thrown that far, but all the big names were there as well and I won.”

“There is always pressure in such a big final. But I have been in quite a number of major finals now so that I know how to handle this. Still with Tero in a competition you can never be sure if you have won until he had his last throw. He has a lot of potential. He may throw 80 metres in a competition and then at his last attempt throw beyond 90,” said Thorkildsen, who had been beaten by Pitkämäki in last year’s World Championships in Osaka. “I think today he had more in him than he showed.”

“Andreas was very strong today,” Pitkämäki said. “There are more than four metres between us, that shows it. I was a bit surprised about how strong he was. It was my aim to throw beyond 90 metres as well, but I didn’t reach that goal.”

Thorkildsen was proud of his Olympic record, which he took from legend Jan Zelezny. The Czech had achieved 90.17m in Sydney in 2000.

Asked about his future potential and his personal best of 91.59m Thorkildsen explained: “This is an interesting topic in javelin throwing in general. There is always something which could be better – it might be wind or speed. I think you are often close to your potential but you never reach it.”

“Concerning my personal best I might go somewhere where I will have a good tailwind. Then I should be able to throw a bit further than today.” But Thorkildsen doesn’t think much about Jan Zelezny’s 23-year-old world record of 98.48m. “That is quite far away for me at present. Once I am able to throw 94 metres without any wind then I might go somewhere where it is really windy,” he said and joked: “May be Iceland is the place to go, it is pretty windy there.”

But it is Switzerland, not Iceland, which is next on his list. “I will throw in Zurich on Friday and then probably will go to Brussels and Stuttgart,” for the World Athletics Final, said Thorkildsen, who comes from an athletics family. His mother Bente Amundsen was a national champion in the 100m Hurdles while his father Tomm had personal bests of 10.9 seconds in the 100m and 71.64m in the javelin. It was his father who brought him to the sport. At the age of 11 he threw the javelin for the first time.

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF