German javelin thrower Thomas Rohler (Getty Images) © Copyright
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First impressions – Thomas Rohler

World Championships fourth-place finisher Thomas Rohler has emerged over the past couple of seasons as a world-class thrower. Here the German offers an insight into some aspects of his life which have left a lasting mark.

First athletics competition

The first competition I recall was a mandatory cross-country race at school held in a parking lot. I was never the best endurance runner and I finished in about fifth place. I was always a good jumper and a ball thrower, but never an endurance athlete. 

First sport

I did gymnastics for about half a year because my mum was involved in the sport as a child. But, honestly, I have to say since the age of seven, track and field has been my one and only sporting pursuit. I was always excited by the movement in track and field. I was never bored by the sport.

First coach

Looking back I was very lucky that my first coach at my local club in Jena was Waltraud Strotzer (nee Pohland), a former winner of the European junior 800m title. She was quite strict but she also knew what it was like to be an elite athlete. She coached me from the age of about nine to the age of 12 and I still believe she is coaching at the club today. 

First international athletics competition

It was a three-way under-20 international match between France, Germany and Italy in Ancona in Italy. I was almost selected by accident. I had finished fifth at the German Winter Championships but because of a couple of injuries I was a late call-up. I was really excited to wear my country’s colours, it was really inspiring and it was the first moment in my career I thought I had an international future.

I can’t recall exactly how I got on, but I don’t think I finished even halfway up the field. It was an important competition for me as I quickly improved and four months later made the German team to compete at the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada (Rohler finished ninth).    

First big athletics disappointment

I remember competing in a big qualification competition at the Halle meeting in Germany in 2011. I was capable of throwing over 76m but massively underperformed that day. My coach at the time wanted me to take a big break, I took one week off and then three weeks later I achieved the standard and everything was fine again.

First piece of clothing you bought

It was a pair of crazy silver-coloured shoes. I don’t remember the brand, but the shoes were similar to a basketball shoe. My mother always used to say as long as it is your money, you can pay for what you want. I only wore them a few times and then realised that maybe silver was not the right colour for me.

First toy

Lego. I always really liked Lego and some of my earliest memories are of playing with Lego and building some country and western scenes with cowboys.

First thing you learned to cook

My great-grandmother taught me how to make pancakes. She has a special technique for making them. It was always fun helping her. I still cook pancakes from time to time with my favourite filling of syrup. 

First car

I’m still a young man so I still have my first car, a Toyota. I bought it aged 22. When I went to the car showroom to buy the car I took a tube full of javelins with me to make sure that they fit in the back.

First pet

I kept tropical fish in a tank. I didn’t give the fish names, but I remember from the age of about 10 my parents gave me the responsibility to look after and care for the fish. I still have some tropical fish I keep in a tank at home today.

First media interview

It was for the OTZ, a local newspaper for the region where I grew up in Jena. The first time they interviewed me was after I made the team for the international match in 2010 in Ancona. They came to see me in the gym and it was exciting to see my picture in the paper.

Steve Landells for the IAAF