It is the biggest year in the career of Johannes Vetter so far and the world javelin champion cannot wait. “I am excited,” he said. “I am very excited.”
There are numerous reasons: he is ready to throw even further than his 94.44m from last summer; he is ready to dominate the sport in the same way Jan Zelezny did; and in August, he is ready to be one of the biggest stars as Germany hosts the European Championships in Berlin from 7-12 August.
“My hometown track is not far away from Berlin,” said Vetter, as he looks ahead to August when Berlin co-hosts the first multi-sport European Championships with Glasgow. “I will have a lot of friends and family there, you want to compete in your capital and I cannot wait. I have already qualified, so I can be calm – and easy.”
That calmness comes from his sensational performance in March when he shattered the championship record with a throw of 92.70m at the European Throwing Cup in Leiria, Portugal improving the record by nearly seven metres.
Breaking 90 metres is some barrier in itself for any javelin thrower, but to achieve it in the winter months, when warm-weather training is normally the priority, shows just how much Vetter, 25, means business whenever he steps onto the runway.
As the sport discovered in earnest last summer when he elevated himself to a new level.
Having finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro the previous summer – his 85.32m saw him miss out on bronze by six centimetres as fellow German Thomas Rohler took gold with 90.30m – Vetter sensationally moved to second on the world all-time lists on a memorable day in Luzern, Switzerland in July.
His throw of 94.44m was stunning, with only Zelezny having gone further. His world record of 98.48m will be 22 years old this summer and now Vetter has that distance very much on his mind.
“When I threw the 94.44m, I had no wind and I know when Jan Zelezny was throwing his world record, he had really good back wind,” said Vetter. “I am sure if I had the same wind situation in Luzern as Zelezny had in Jena, then I can also throw 97 metres or more. I am looking to beat my personal best. The training is going really well and I am in a really good mood.
“We will see what happens, with the perfect mood in the perfect competition. Maybe there is a good situation of the wind, the run-up has to be good and there are so many things which have to come together, to throw really far.
“Of course you want to be the guy who everybody wants to beat – like Zelezny 20 years ago.”
A three-time Olympic and world gold medallist, Zelezny was the standard bearer from the late 1980s up until the early 2000s and now Vetter is preparing for this new season in that frame of mind.
Just as last year, it will all start for him in Doha next Friday at the opening meeting of the new IAAF Diamond League season, a competition he cannot wait for.
“I am really looking forward to Doha,” said Vetter. “The first meeting of the season is really special and you want to show how good you and show the others that you are the man who is the one to beat this year.”
It was Rohler who was the star in Doha 12 months ago when in the fourth round he threw an amazing Diamond League record of 93.90m, which at the time put him second behind Zelezny on the all-time list.
Vetter was second with 89.68m, a personal best, but greater things were in store as he showed a few months later.
That aforementioned throw propelled him to a level where the noise inside the Olympic Stadium in Berlin will be electric on the night of the javelin final as Vetter and Rohler compete in a discipline which has taken on a new level in Germany.
It is a successful group, because they all work off of each other. “We have a really good team,” said Vetter. “All of us know we are competitors and everyone wants to win and be the best. We can speak a lot about our technique and our training.
“We have a lot of young guys at the moment, a lot of big talent. Everybody wants to be the best and we are really pushing each other. At the training camps, we are doing things together and there is a good team spirit.”
But when the moment comes, it is every man for himself. If the summer pans out as he hopes, Vetter is hoping one man stands out from the rest.
More information on the 2018 European Championships:
– The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multi-sport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.
– It will be a must-watch, must-attend experience that elevates the status of European Champions, uniting existing European Championships to celebrate the highest honour in European sport and celebrating the defining moments that create Champions.
– It is the continent’s ultimate multi-sport event, an 11-day celebration of European sport staged every four years.
– Seven of Europe’s leading sports (athletics, aquatics, rowing, golf, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon) will be brought together for the first edition.
– The European Athletics Championships in Berlin will be staged 7-12 August. The six other sports will be staged in Glasgow through 2-12 August.
– 4500 athletes and 52 nations will compete across the seven sports.
– Potential TV audience of over one billion with millions more across multiple digital platforms.
– Over half a million spectators expected.