Vitezslav Vesely, winner of the javelin in Oslo (© Jiro Mochizuki)
When you think of the javelin, you automatically think of Oslo and the ExxonMobil Bislett Games. The IAAF Diamond League meeting in Norway’s capital has a rich tradition in the event and the assembled field for 11 June will only add to that.
The history of javelin throwing in Norway is significant as Norwegian throwers have won seven Olympic medals, dating way back to the days of Arne Halse and Olav Sunde. Since then, the names of Egil Danielsen, Trine Hattestad and Andreas Thorkildsen have all captured gold at the highest level. No fewer than five javelin world records have been set by Norwegian athletes.
Five world records have been established at the Bislett stadium. Oslo’s own Hattestad did it in 2000, while Terje Pedersen twice achieved the feat in 1964. Czech legend Jan Zelezny set two of his world records in Oslo too.
The field for this year certainly boasts an incredible line-up, featuring no fewer than three world champions: Finland’s Tero Pitkamaki, Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen and Vítezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic.
In fact, the top six finishers from last year’s IAAF World Championships are in the field. Aside from gold medallist Vesely, silver medallist Pitkamaki and sixth-place finisher Thorkildsen, the field also includes world bronze medallist Dmitri Tarabin, World Championships fourth-place finisher Julius Yego and fifth-place finisher Antti Ruuskanen.
The sensational winner of the first IAAF Diamond League javelin competition of the year is also coming to Bislett. Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed of Egypt stunned everybody by throwing a world-leading 89.21m in Shanghai, beating all three medallists from last year’s World Championships. Not only was it an African record, it was also the best throw in the world since 2011.
Two-time Olympic champion Thorkildsen has had a decent preparation for the 2014 season and for the first time in many years is injury free. The parochial Bislett crowd will be willing him to find his best form in such a strong field.
But he isn’t the only Olympic gold medallist in the field, as reigning Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott is also set to compete.
Vesely, who has won in Oslo for the past two years, will be looking for his third consecutive victory in the Norwegian capital. The European champion, who is coached by Zelezny, now has his sights set on breaking the 90-metre barrier as he inches towards his coach’s world record of 98.48m.
Yego is one of the more interesting throwers in the assembled field. Kenya isn’t a country that is renowned for technical events, but Yego came within a few centimetres of claiming a surprise bronze medal in Moscow. He eventually finished in fourth place with a personal best of 85.40m. So far in his career, he has made the finals of both the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 World Championships, despite only breaking the 80-metre barrier for the first time in 2012.
Organisers for the IAAF
2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep