Series26 Jun 2019

Advice to my younger self: Thomas Rohler


German javelin thrower Thomas Rohler (© Getty Images)

Germany’s European and Olympic javelin champion Thomas Rohler takes a step back in time and offers some sage words of advice to the childhood version of himself.


“Be patient, Thomas. Slow down and, remember, enjoy the journey. I know you are itching to throw. Ever since you were very young and loved throwing stones in the lake with your father you believed you had found your calling.

The coaches at your local club insist that as you are a lean 12-year-old boy and that you are better suited to the high jump and triple jump. I know you are not happy about this because you really want to throw the javelin but you should respect their decision.

Your passion for throwing will take time to flourish. So be happy at this moment to be jumping and trust that this will allow you to become a more versatile athlete. You will learn so many skills from this period of your athletics career, such as co-ordination and agility, that will serve you well when you later take up the javelin.

Oh, and the other thing, Thomas, try to remember to look at the bigger picture. Everything is currently set within a very small time frame. You find it hard to look beyond the next training session or the next competition and this can lead to stress and anxiety.

I think you understand that technically you are a good athlete but during this phase of your career there are kids who are more physically developed who can run that little bit faster or can jump a little bit further.

Try not to stress - over time you will find satisfaction from the sport not purely in terms of competitive results but in the entire journey. Over time you will discover this to be the way forward for your career.

And also, Thomas, you will perhaps come to regret some of those fashion mistakes you made back then. What were you thinking with those baggy clothes; you were definitely a kid of the 1990s!

Can I remind you again, Thomas, the sport of athletics is not solely about competition, it is also about the training and overall experience. By focusing on building this foundation you will determine your future success."

Steve Landells for the IAAF