German javelin throwers create history in Doha

Thomas Rohler
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Olympic javelin champion Thomas Rohler opened his season with an excellent 91.78m in the Doha Diamond League

A year ago, Thomas Rohler produced one of the greatest javelin throws of all-time when he triumphed in the Doha Diamond League and once more he is part of history.

He might not have reached last year’s distance of 93.90m but his victory with 91.78m came on a night of a German clean sweep when for the first time ever, three men surpassed 90 metres in the same competition.

If the javelin final at this summer’s European Championships in Berlin was already the hottest ticket in town, the anticipation will now be even greater. 

When Rohler, the Olympic champion, won 12 months ago it looked like he would dominate the event but teammate Johannes Vetter, who was second that night, had other ideas.

He threw his massive 94.44m before becoming world champion, and seemed he would be the force this evening as he started with a throw of 91.56m as Rohler reached 80.64m. 

But what a way Rohler responded in round two with a brilliant 91.78m to go in front, putting down the challenge to Vetter before Andreas Hofmann, who was eighth at the IAAF World Championships in London last summer, threw 90.08m in the third round to show he will not be left behind this summer. 

“Today was a great but it wasn’t easy,” said Rohler. “There is always room for improvement. I have been preparing and always knew I could throw that far. I was even able to take some risks and know that I am in good physical shape.”

Rohler also spoke of the camaraderie among these best of rivals. “My teammates and I travel together and train together, which motivates me always,” said Rohler. 

Vetter, who has the world lead of 92.70m from the European Throwing Cup in Leiria in March, said: “I am super happy. This is quite a good start. I did not think I had a perfect throw but it will come in the future - the near future.” 

The positions went unchanged in the second half of the competition with Rohler opening his account with a win ahead of the reigning world champion although Hofmann, who produced an incredible throw of 91.07m at the World University Games last August, showed that performance was far from a one-off. 

“I feel fine today but I wish I had thrown further,” said Hofmann. “I hope I can beat my personal best in the next meeting but all I can do is to keep throwing even further.” 

The first chapter of the story has long been told and it is a narrative that will run all the way to the Olympic Stadium when Berlin stages the European Championships in August.

Perkovic smashes Diamond League record

It might be a long way until the finals in Zurich and Brussels at the end of the summer, but once more the others will be playing catch up to Sandra Perkovic.

The new Diamond League season was not even an hour old when the Croatian star entered the cage for the third round of a competition where she was leading with 67.41m from round two. 

On a hot evening in Doha, with temperatures above 30 degrees, Perkovic rose to the occasion as she launched the discus with such a smooth and powerful release. From the moment it left her hand, she knew it was something special.

It landed at 71.38m – the first time 70 metres has been broken in the Diamond League.

Even before it had hit the ground, Perkovic was smiling and waving her arms in celebration and then she danced about it when hit the ground. 

The throw smashed her previous meeting record of 68.23m from 2013, it was only three centimetres less than her personal best from Bellinzona last summer and she revealed how she is now set up for glory in Berlin this summer. 

“I was so close to my PB,” said Perkovic. “The environment here is amazing and the conditions set me up for the year with the season just beginning. 

“This is perfect as we look to competing at the European Championships. Doha has made me ready to make my mark there.” 

Indeed, what a start for an athlete who will be the nailed on favourite to win an unprecedented fifth successive gold this summer.

Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev might have been one of the surprise gold medallists at last summer’s World Championships but he began his 2018 season in good form, finishing third in the 200m in 20.11 behind American Noah Lyles in a meeting record of 19.83 and Trinidad & Tobago’s Jereem Richards in 19.99.

Guliyev’s teammate Yasemin Can obliterated her outdoor 3000m personal best of 8:53.16 as she finished ninth in 8:36.24 while Poland’s Adam Kszczot, who will be seeking a European 800m hat-trick in Berlin, finished fourth in the 800m in 1:46.70 as Kenyan Emmanuel Korir won in 1:45.21.