Nobody could have predicted just how Johannes Vetter’s summer would unfold after breaking his personal best in the javelin with 89.68m in May to finish second in the Doha Diamond League as his German rival and Olympic champion Thomas Rohler reached 93.90m.
But for Vetter, that was just a starter to what was to follow. By the end of the season, he was the world champion; he had moved to second on the world all-time lists; he had nine of the top 20 throws in the world; and further recognition was waiting when he was named the male European Athlete of the Year at the Golden Track in Vilnius, Lithuania.
With the indoor season only just coming to an end, he will be at the top of the table once more – and hungry for glory again when he takes to the runway in Leiria, Portugal at 4pm local time on the second day of the European Throwing Cup.
Vetter will be ready to bank another accolade in a year where he is already way ahead in the world lists. At the start of last month at his training base in Offenburg, Germany, he threw 84.08m and at the end of last month, in the warmer climes of Potchefstroom, South Africa, he delivered a stunning world-leading mark of 91.22m.
For a man who had not broken 90m until July last year, to smash through that barrier six months before the biggest date in the calendar shows exactly how far he has come.
August can never be far from his mind. Vetter will be one of the biggest home stars as Berlin stages the inaugural multi-sport European Championships in conjunction with Glasgow.
That’s then. Now is an event where he will look to emulate his fellow German Julian Weber who won this European Throwing Cup title in Las Palmas last year with a championship record of 85.85m.
Vetter will be as clear a favourite as there has ever been in a year where he might just have Jan Zelezny’s world record of 98.48m in his sights having thrown 94.44m in Luzern last July.
Vetter is one of three global champions competing on the men’s side this weekend. His fellow German Christoph Harting, the Olympic discus champion, and Poland’s world and European hammer champion Pawel Fajdek are both in action on Saturday.
The men’s discus could be one of the best events of the weekend as Austria’s Lukas Wesshaidinger returns to defend his title in a field which also includes Sweden’s Daniel Stahl, the world silver medallist.
Twelve month ago, Wesshaidinger won with 65.73m with Stahl in fourth with 61.51m, a place behind Estonia’s Martin Kupper (62.86m) but since then, Stahl has broken the 70m line - and the Swedish record - with 71.29m, a mark which stood as the world lead in 2017.
Fajdek will be the defending European champion in Berlin having won his third world title in London with 79.81m in an event where France’s Quentin Bigot was fourth with 77.67m.
Bigot will be a big challenger to Fajdek on Saturday, having won the title last year with 76.55m in an event where the top three are back: Pavel Bareisha, of Belarus, who took second with 74.41m and Italy’s Simone Falloni, who took third with 74.37m.
The top three from the men’s shot put are also returning after a competition in Las Palmas last year in which on the day they all broke their personal bests. Mesud Pezer from Bosnia & Herzegovina won with 20.69m ahead of Spain’s Carlos Tobalina (20.57m) and Portugal’s Francisco Bela (20.52m).
In the U23 events, Hungary’s Bence Halasz, who was second last year and then went on to win European U23 gold in Bydgoszcz, chases this title in the hammer, while Germany’s Clemens Prufer, who won bronze at the European Athletics U23 Championships in July, will be among the favourites in the discus.
Norway’s European U20 champion Marcus Thomsen, who has a PB of 19.40m, should make the podium in the shot put as he steps up to a new age group while in the U23 javelin, Turkey’s Emin Oncel has thrown 78.73m this year and will take all the beating.