Four of the world’s finest javelin throwers gathered at the official press conference ahead of tomorrow’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games and IAAF Diamond League at Oslo’s Thon Hotel Opera in front of the assembled international media this afternoon, and much of the talk was about the surprising world-leader.
Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahan threw an incredible 89.21m lifetime best and Area Record to win May’s Shanghai IAAF Diamond League, and his eye-catching six-metre improvement this season is understandably the current hot topic in men’s javelin.
The 25-year-old 2008 world junior silver medallist explained:
“I’m not surprised as my coach told me I could throw over 87m so I’m happy.
“I used to train alone in Egypt but now I train with my coach in Finland, he has changed my technique.”
Seventh in last summer’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Abdelrahan – with possibly even more from him to come as he learns the event - continued:
“I had an ankle injury in Shanghai and it twisted again in Beijing but it’s better now.
“I feel happy and good - I’ve been watching YouTube videos (of the javelin greats) to learn.”
World champion, Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic is returning from a long-term knee injury but the 31-year-old is in positive mood:
“I had a big problem with my knee but it’s getting better. It was a problem in 2013 but it’s better than expected now so I’m waiting for a better result, hopefully tomorrow,” he revealed.
Fourth in the 2012 London Olympics, Vesely is a 88.34m thrower at his best and he boasts a season’s best of 83.80m from his third place finish in Shanghai.
The winner of May’s Prefontaine Classic and Eugene IAAF Diamond League, he continued:
“In January, I couldn’t run 100m without pain – the muscles around my knee were like a baby’s muscles. I started walking and running barefoot so now it’s ok.
“I’m not in my best shape as I missed a lot of training but I still think I can throw well.
“I’m taking care of my legs – this season is not as important as the next three and everything is dictated by my knee.”
On his fierce rival’s startling performance, Vesely offered:
“When I saw Ihab’s throw, I thought it is still possible in my career, I still believe there is space to get better.
“His throw is good for javelin, it makes it more attractive.”
Another former champion hoping to regain his form here in Oslo is 2007 world champion, Tero Pitkamaki of Finland.
The 31-year-old world silver medallist was only sixth in Shanghai and he admitted that sleep has eluded him recent days but for a positive reason:
“I had a baby boy yesterday - baby and mother are well. I’m super happy and tired, and haven’t slept for the past three nights.”
The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist who has an impressive 91.53m lifetime best from the 2005 season, continued:
“I had some problems in South Africa in February and March and then had an elbow operation on the first of April so I’ve not done much throwing since but I’m getting better.
“My biggest goal was yesterday but I want the gold medal from Zurich (at the European Championships in August) and to throw 90m is my aim.”
On the current world-leader, the Olympic fifth placer admitted:
“I knew he could throw over 85m but it was a good surprise – I need to improve my throwing to beat him.”
2004 and 2008 Olympic champion, Andreas Thorkildsen agreed that Abdelrahan will be the man to beat tomorrow:
“Ihab’s a serious competitor – he’s come up through the ranks but it was a big surprise, he’s a big guy who can throw far.
“It was a good throw with nice flight and he has a bright future,” he said.
The 32-year-old Norwegian finished runner-up in Eugene with 80.52m and has fine memories of Oslo’s Bislett Stadium, having registered his superb 91.59m lifetime best there in 2006.
The 2009 world champion and two-time European champion explained his hopes ahead of competing in front of his home crowd:
“I’m healthy – Eugene was difficult so I have higher expectations tomorrow, I hope to be a lot more comfortable on the run-way and I hope we have nice weather, competition and results.
“I can't promise 89m but I’m able to. It’s still early (in the season) but it’s interesting that new countries are coming up.”