Like all elite athletes across Europe, Germany’s 2016 Olympic javelin champion Thomas Rohler is working out how to move ahead with his training in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the last few days, the German government has ordered the closure of most public spaces and placed dramatic restriction the movement of individuals in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.
However, Rohler – an Ambassador of European Athletics Green Inspiration Partner Mondo – is more than happy to be back home in Jena for the moment after nearly getting stranded in Turkey last weekend, where he had been warm weather training for two weeks during the first half of March with the German national squad in the Mediterranean town of Belek.
“Our plane from Antalya (the nearest airport to Belek) to Leipzig was supposed to take off last Saturday at 7:30 in the morning, then suddenly it was announced the evening before that from 8:00 a.m. there would be no more flights from Turkey. We immediately packed our bags and drove to the airport, where we spent the night,” recounted Rohler for the German athletics federation website https://www.leichtathletik.de/ a few days ago.
“We had followed the general developments in Europe and around the world while we were in Belek but, frankly, we were taken completely by surprise with this news.”
“Fortunately, we were able to take our planned plane, and all the other athletes and coaches in Belek were able to travel back to Germany from Belek."
Rohler departed the Global Sports Arena training centre in Belek in such a hurry that he had to leave behind some of his javelins. He had planned initially to return to Belek and then go on to the Diamond League meeting in Doha – his traditional season-opener and one of his favourite competitions where the two longest throws of his career have been produced – in mid-April but that competition has now been postponed so it may be a case of doing some online shopping for replacements.
“But I am happy to be back home, to come back to my family and to an environment I’m familiar with. What can we expect here now? We must not close our eyes to reality, and I think we athletes will have to be prepared for further restrictions.”
However, at least Rohler can consider his two weeks training in Turkey to be money in the bank even if there is uncertainty about when he will be able to throw competitively again; and he has also been able to train at the nearby Jena Javelin Centre in recent days, although he knows that may not be possible for much longer.
Thanks to in part to Rohler’s negotiating skills, the Centre has superb facilities for javelin throwers.
In the wake of his Rio triumph on a Mondotrack WS surface, the following year Rohler met with representatives from the company and expressed a desire to train in this type of track.
Mondo then installed two 100-metre strips of the surface in April 2018 in exchange for the Centre’s commitment to let Mondo use the javelin runways until 2024 as a test area for certain track surfacing materials.
Although, understandable, all testing has come to a standstill for the moment, Mondo still plans to inspect and substitute the runways with an improved version of the track material based on the resistance and performance recorded, both onsite and in their laboratories, in the coming years.
Rohler has as his targets this year the defence of his Olympic and European crowns, having also won at Berlin 2018 in front of a delighted and enthusiastic home crowd.
In addition, he wants to bounce back in a big competition after his disaster in Doha when he failed to make the World Athletics Championships final, unable to throw further than 79.23m in qualifying, which has so far proved to be his last competition.
“We learned a little bit from it (the World Athletics Championships) and we quickly emphasised – both my coach Harro Schwuchow and I – that it was just one day in a very long career. Very small mistakes can have a big impact in the javelin throw, and this was the case in Doha."
However, Rohler’s competitive record suggests that such mistakes are few and far between.
He published news on social media from Turkey which indicated that he’s currently in shape to throw over 90 metres again – which he has done in no less than seven competitions in his career – and perhaps approach his German record of 93.90m from 2017.
When he will compete again is unknown, but when he does it’s likely that Rohler will arrive on top of his game.