We all strive for that moment when everything simply clicks. That rare occasion when the universe seemingly aligns and we nail something just right. It’s an occurrence almost singular in nature, making it all the more extraordinary.
Thomas Röhler experienced that rare sensation at the opening meeting of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League in Doha on Friday night as we watched his javelin sail farther than any had soared in more than 20 years.
“I knew it was a super clean hit,” Röhler said, offering up a quick analysis of his 93.90m blast that elevated the 25-year-old Olympic champion to the event’s No.2 position on the world all-time list.
“There was no resistance, nothing. And immediately I just saw a zero point in the air. This is when it tells you that you got a perfect hit.”
The German was already part of the javelin elite after becoming the 15th member of the event’s 90-metre club in June of last year with a 91.28m throw in Turku, Finland, an effort that landed him on the doorstep of the all-time top 10.
Last night’s throw leaves him trailing only world record-holder Jan Zelezny. All things considered, not a bad season’s debut.
“It’s the first competition of the year so it’s super special to throw so far,” Röhler said. “It means a lot to me. It’s really early in the season so it’ll be interesting to see what the next is going to be.”
Has he ever felt a ‘hit’ like that before?
“To be honest, no. I had a good feeling with the track and a super good grip, no slipping at all. So the energy went right into the javelin.” As it turned out, he needed to channel that energy as best he could in a competition that turned out to be of the highest quality.
Coming into Doha, Röhler said: “I felt like 88 (metres) was possible. But then Johannes (Vetter) stepped up and really teased me to do better.”
Indeed, his 24-year-old compatriot Vetter took command of the competition in the third round with a lifetime best and world-leading 89.68m. That apparently lit Röhler’s fire as his response came swiftly and resolutely in the next round.
“It was an amazing competition for all of us,” Röhler said. “93 (metres), almost 90, and then 88, so the javelin is really crazy at the moment.”
With him leading the charge.
Röhler said he and coach Harro Schwuchow didn’t alter much in their off-season preparations, but did make some minor tweaks and adjustments.
“We’ve been trying to set up a training (system) that really delivers for the javelin and not for old school throws and strength training,” he said.
“We changed my daily structure a little bit, and the structure over the week. And we also added some small exercises to get even more explosive.”
Röhler said he has yet to do any speed work on the track, limiting his running drills to the grass. “And it’s turned out really, really good. So maybe that’s an idea to keep for the next years.” A period in which he’ll continue his elusive chase for perfection.
“In the javelin we’re all like these super technicians, always trying to optimise things, to look for the perfect throw. Today it felt like the perfect one. But I know there’s one guy who’s thrown further so there must be another ‘perfect’.”
He doesn’t seem to be in any rush, though. With his feet planted firmly on the ground, for now he’s happy to relish his spot as history’s second farthest thrower.
“I feel honoured to be one of the few throwing ‘a thing’ so far," he said. "I would have been a perfect hunter back in the day. So I’m feeling pretty good today.”
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF