Series29 Jul 2017

That moment when… Vetter changed to his current coach


Johannes Vetter in the javelin at the IAAF World Championships (© Getty Images)

Over the past couple of seasons, Germany’s Johannes Vetter has developed into one of the world’s best javelin throwers. Here the Olympic fourth-place finisher and 94-metre thrower talks about the significance of moving to his current coach Boris Obergföll.



“In September/October of 2014 I changed from my old coach in Dresden to train with Boris Obergföll. In 2014 I had come off a season when I threw a personal best of 79m, but I was inconsistent. I threw well in some competitions, but not so well in others. I felt I needed a change and better technical advice.

“I had spoken with Boris in several training camps in the past and I was impressed not only by his technical knowledge, but also his approach to the mental side of competition. On top of that, he was also a world-class thrower and understands what it is like to perform at the highest level (Obergföll won two World Championships bronze medals and boasts a lifetime best of 90.44m). I was really pleased when I asked him if he wanted to coach me and he agreed.

“Of course, it wasn’t an easy move. Offenburg was more than 600km from my home city of Dresden and I also had to give up my studies to be a police officer. Then I decided to go into the army because of the good sports programme they have for athletes.

“I am a really hard worker and a dedicated trainer so I was surprised when I first saw Boris’s training plan. I was used to a very rigorous regime, so I asked Boris, ‘are you sure we train enough?’ Yet for him his training is all about looking after an athlete. It is a smart approach which includes a lot of physio treatment and making sure the body is in the best possible shape.

“Technically I’ve made many changes since being with Boris. It has not always been easy. For the previous five or six years it had been drilled into me to throw the javelin a certain way, but over time I came to make the improvements Boris wanted.

“After throwing a personal best of 85.40m in Jena in 2015, I realised that I had made the right decision to be coached by Boris. Last year I made even greater improvements, throwing a best of 89.57m and finishing fourth at the Olympics Games. The next challenge is to throw more consistently, which I think I am doing.

“There is little doubt that under Boris I’ve made huge improvements, advancing my PB from 79m to 94m. Qualifying for the 2015 World Championships (Vetter finished seventh) and the 2016 Olympics were an important step. He is a great motivator who has improved me every day. I am confident that will continue in future.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF