16 JUL 2004 General News

16-year-old Zimmer takes surprise win in Grosseto

Vivian Zimmer of Germany wins Javelin final (Getty Images)Vivian Zimmer of Germany wins Javelin final (Getty Images) © Copyright

At around 9:30pm last night, after the final of the women’s Javelin Throw in Grosseto, Vivian Zimmer felt like in trance. Sitting in the Mixed Zone in the Olympic Stadium, Zimmer had five journalists surrounding her, everybody was talking at the same time, one in English, the other one in Italian, the third person tried to say some words in German - it was totally chaotic.

"I was sitting in my chair, and didn’t understand anything," Vivian Zimmer said and laughed.

A few minutes before, the girl from Halle, who will turn 17 on the 22nd of July, had struck a big surprise. She had won the gold medal, throwing 58.50m at the World Junior Championships.

The young woman with the long dark hair didn’t have just one lucky throw yesterday but exceeded all expectations and threw an incredible four times over 50 metres.

"I didn’t realize I was throwing so far, for me the attempts were not perfect," she said stunned.

What Zimmer did realize is that she was in the lead since the first round. However the 1.79m-tall teenager expected the pre-event big favourite, Annika Suthe, also from Germany, to put together a big throw and take gold.

Annika Suthe has a personal best of 61.38m and is the only athlete from the German junior team, who will go also to Athens to the Olympics.

"My knees were shaking the whole competition," the slim javelin thrower remembered the situation as she confessed she never even dreamed of gold medal. But she was in a top shape. The preparation was very good.

"I went to several training camps first in Waltenhofen, then in Kienbaum and I even trained with Steffi Nerius."

There she saw already, that she could throw around 58m even with only three steps run-up. Steffi Nerius is her big idol.

"She never lost the ground under her feet, she is a nice woman and she can throw very far," the young girl said about the bronze medallist from Paris 2003.

Vivian Zimmer lives, works and trains in Halle. She was born in Magdeburg, but last year she changed life and house. She still lives at the boarding-school in Halle. "But I want to find my own apartment soon," she said.

At the moment she is studying to become a businesswoman in sports and fitness at the federation of sports in Sachsen-Anhalt and she has optimal conditions for training.

"The sport plays a big role in my life. I have big goals." Her dreams for 2004 already fulfilled, she explains her next step is breaking the 60 metres. "But I save them for next year," she said.

Vivian Zimmer, who is trained by Maria Ritschel, is a similar type of person like her idoal Steffi Nerius: calm, relaxed and ambitious. And she is a fighter.

"My nerves are very strong," she grinned. Last year she won bronze in Sherbrooke at the World Youth Championships - with the last attempt. She is a good technician and very fast. "And I have long arms," she said laughing.  

In Grosseto she improved her own national under 18-record. Before the victory ceremony she was almost more excited as in the competition itself. "I am a very emotional person, I suppose, that I will cry," she said.

The day of the final she trained in the morning - as a good preparation for the evening event. “Waiting around until 19:30 was a long time and I couldn’t hang around the whole day, I become crazy if I do that."

And in Grosseto it was very hot and sunny. "I was not used these temperatures in the last couple of weeks in Germany," she said.

But now I am happy that it is over. Her Mother has organized a barbecue on the beach. In holiday atmosphere, she will try to take in what has happened in Grosseto. And for the Olympic Games she has a tip, who will be the winner.

"I think the medals will be shared between the Greek woman, Mirela Manjani, the Cuban thrower, Osleidis Menendez and Steffi Nerius," new Junior Champion said. 

That if there is no big surprise in Athens, just like the one she created here in Grosseto upsetting the more favoured athletes.

Ursula Kaiser for the IAAF