Hammer world record holder Heidler looking for success in Stockholm

Betty Heidler
Betty Heidler has been in excellent form since breaking
the hammer world record in May.

There will be a lot of attention on Germany’s 2010 European Athletics Championships hammer gold medallist Betty Heidler at the SPAR European Team Championships in Stockholm this weekend after her world record of 79.42m in Halle last month.

The 27-year-old Heidler, easily identifiable thanks to her flame-coloured red hair, added 1.12 metres to the former mark of Anita Wlodarczyk which the Polish athlete threw last year.

Heidler opened in Halle on 21 May with 77.19m, which itself added seven centimetres to her own German record, before her massive third-round effort meant she became the first German woman to set a world record since Petra Felke did so in the javelin back in 1988.

She has been in fine form since her world record a month ago, putting together a winning streak of four meetings ahead of her arrival in the Swedish capital. In the German town of Fränkisch-Crumbach on Monday she threw 77.53m, her second best mark ever.

In an exclusive interview with European Athletics, Heidler talks about the 2011 SPAR European Team Championships and her world record.

European Athletics: You have competed in both the SPAR European Team Championships so far. What’s your opinion about the event?
Betty Heidler: The SPAR European Team Championships are like no other competition in athletics. It’s a wonderful feeling to be competing for your country and, especially as the hammer is usually one of the first events on one of the days, also sitting in the stands cheering on your team mates. I was very proud to have been part of the Germany team that won at the inaugural Championships two years ago in Portugal. I finished second on that occasion but won my event last year in Bergen. This year I hope that Germany can regain the title of being Europe’s top athletics country and I can win my event, I would love both things to happen.

What are you thoughts about competing in Stockholm?
I’ve never competed there before so I’m excited and curious to find out what it’s like. I know something about the history of the stadium, being the oldest stadium to have staged the Olympics that’s still around, so I’m looking forward to it. It should be fun.

Let’s turn the clock back a few weeks to 21 May, when you set the world record. What are your recollections of that competition?
I had the idea beforehand that it could be a very nice competition, my second warm up throw was around 77 or 78 metres and I thought to myself: “This could be a good day.” My first throw in the competition was 77.19m and that was with really bad technique, so I obviously tried to improve things from there.

My third throw was the best of the competition. I could see that it was a world record, my first, but from where I was standing it looked like it was about 78-and-a-half [metres] so then to see it was 79.42m, well, I was shocked. It was crazy. It didn’t feel like that [sort of distance] at all.

When it left my hand, it felt like a good throw, perhaps better than my first round throw, but when a world record went up on the scoreboard, I still couldn’t believe it.

What was the reaction of some of your rivals from around the world to your world record?
I didn’t get any message or something like that from many other people; but many of the other girls that were there in Halle celebrated with me in the evening. It was very funny to go out in Halle, all the girls together.

As you are now so much closer to it, was there much talk between yourself and your rivals about the 80-metre barrier before?
To be honest, there was not much talk beforehand between the top girls about the 80-metre barrier, Anita [Wlodarcyzk] is very reserved, she doesn’t like to speak with the other girls and Tatyana Lysenko [Russia’s 2006 European Athletics Championships gold medallist and also a former world record holder] doesn’t speak English too well.

With Kathrin [Klaas, her compatriot and training partner] we have spoken about the world record but not throwing over 80 metres.

Are you gregarious, do you like training in a group or on your own?
Personally I like training with other throwers, because you motivate each other, you fight against each other for training results, that’s what I like.

How did you get introduced to the hammer?
I throw the hammer only because when I was young, in my mid-teens, a coach asked me whether I would like to try it. I did, I enjoyed it and that’s it. It’s a very difficult discipline, it’s very hard to put everything together to make a perfect throw, and that’s what’s particularly interesting to me.