Javelin master Hohn and his imprint on Neeraj Chopra’s golden effort
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New Delhi : One of the world’s all-time great javelin throwers, Germany’s Uwe Hohn, would be mightily pleased with Neeraj Chopra’s performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games where the Indian won the gold medal with a monstrous throw of 87.58 metres.Being the master of his art, Hohn, 58, is the only javelin thrower in the world to cross the 100-metre barrier — the world record of 104.80 with the old javelin design stands in the German’s name – and Chopra is one of his favourite pupils.Hohn, who was the javelin coach of the Indian team for three years, left the country earlier this year because of differences with the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), but before leaving, he ensured Chopra had the necessary skills to be a world-beater.Hohn, who is now coaching Australian women javelin throwers, was such a master of the art that it was rumoured that the design of the spear was changed to ensure a level-playing field in the mid-1980s.
On July 20, 1984, competing in the Olympic Day of Athletics competition at Berlin, Hohn threw the javelin to a distance of 104.80 metres, erasing the world record of 99.72 set by Tom Petranoff of the US in 1983.Soon, relevant changes were made to the javelin’s centre of gravity, which was brought forward by four centimetres to negate frequent flat and ambiguous landings that were becoming a headache for the officials measuring distances on the field.But by the time the new design was implemented in 1986, Hohn’s mark had already became an eternal world record’.No javelin thrower has been able to come anywhere close to the record with the new javelin design and Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic is the only one to come close to the magical 100m figure. Zelezny holds the world record of 98.48 metres with the new javelin design set in 1996.Recently, Germany’s Johannes Vetter came close to equalling it with a throw of 97.76 last year.Incidentally, Vetter was the favourite to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics but his best throw on Saturday in Tokyo was only 82.52 metres and he finished ninth among 12 finalists, with Hohn’s trainee Chopra taking the gold.