IAAF Ambassadors Kajsa Bergqvist and Andreas Thorkildsen visited the Hvidovre Stadion in the Copenhagen suburbs on Friday (28) to run a Kids’ Clinic for 24 teenage athletes from around the Danish capital.
Along with two local javelin coaches, Norway’s double Olympic champion Thorkildsen put four girls and eleven boys through their paces, and offered one-on-one coaching advice for the young throwers.
“It was really good,” said Thorkildsen afterwards. “The kids were enthusiastic and had a really good base knowledge. There were some talents there.
“It was rewarding for me to try to help, and see the effect of some of the advice I’d given in their next throw.”
Thorkildsen even gave his jacket to one of the young javelin throwers as a souvenir.
“It was very nice,” said the thrilled recipient: 17-year-old Mikkel Bach Garbecht, who has a PB of 58.34m. “He [Andreas Thorkildsen] is a great man. I watched him at the 2009 World Championships, and now I’m standing here with him. It is amazing for me. Now I know what I should do when I start training again.”
Over in the indoor training area, ten young Danish high jumpers had a two-hour session with the now-retired world indoor record-holder Kajsa Bergqvist.
“It was really fun,” said Laura Poulsen, 14, and a 1.59m high jumper. “I learned that if it doesn’t go well, you just have to keep going to reach your goals. Kajsa is really cool, and very good at high jump!”
Remarkably, as a 12-year-old, Bergqvist had travelled from her hometown of Sollentuna, Sweden, to Copenhagen’s Hvidovre Stadion, which is on Sollentuna Alle, to compete in an inter-schools competition in 1989.
“It was a quarter of a century since I was last here,” said Bergqvist, who won the high jump that day, but remembers it more for the fact it was her first trip abroad without her parents.
“I remember the family I stayed with in Copenhagen,” she says. “They took me to Tivoli Gardens.”
Having just made the last-minute decision to run in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships mass-race on Saturday (29 March), she’ll see the Tivoli Gardens again at the 20km mark.
“I got so inspired at the press conference, I decided to run!” said Bergqvist. Apart from the requisite training and preparation, the only other thing she’s missing is a pair of sports sunglasses, although she joked that her designer pair may have to do.
Back at the Kids Clinic, IAAF Vice President Sergey Bubka was also on hand to deliver a pep talk and some gifts to athletes young and old.
Thorkildsen and Bergqvist were given t-shirts adorned with the image of a young Bubka mid-vault, to which Bergqvist retorted: “You were so good looking! Hey Sergey, I’m going to wear this for the race tomorrow.”
So when you watch the race tomorrow, keep your eyes peeled for a former world high jump champion in designer shades and a Sergey Bubka t-shirt.
James Charlton for the IAAF