Athletics: World best throw lifts expectations

By Paul Lewis


The world's javelin throwers really got the point when New Zealand thrower Stuart Farquhar became the sport's form horse less than three months out from the London Olympics.

His 86.31m to win the Oda Hiroshima International meeting on April 30 with the best throw in the world this year surprised the competition - and himself - and Farquhar is preparing for London in the unusual knowledge that, while his javelin literally flies under the radar, Farquhar himself no longer does.

Now 30 and a veteran of Commonwealth and Olympic Games, his peak so far being a silver at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, Farquhar has been steadily climbing the ranks of the world's best throwers in a sport in which formcan be notoriously fickle.

It is consistency which often separates the best from the field and Farquhar's Hiroshima success, while it came out of the blue, is the result of what he calls "an evolution" in his technique and training methods.

"I know," he laughs, "I have really put myself in a position, haven't I?" His Hiroshima throw means expectations will be lifted and more pressure applied although, by any measure, Hiroshima was a boost to his mental and physical state ahead of London.

So it should - his throw beat his previous best by almost a metre.

"I am pretty stoked about it," he said.

"I have been working hard and you always want to increase your personal best and you have goals outside of the Olympic Games end game. It's a good feeling to get up there and get a good distance in.

"I wasn't expecting it to come so early on," he said. "But I have been doing a lot of

work on my strength, power and speed and all of a sudden, I was right up there. Over the last three or four years, my coach and I [Debbie Strange] have been doing a lot more strategic work-looking at other coaches and athletes and picking up on things that are good for me.

"So, over those years, I have been improving quite a lot and have become a lot more consistent, I think." In fact, trace Farquhar's competitive history back and it is clear he is on a definite upward curve. In his first Olympics in Athens in 2004, he came 25th.

The 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games saw him placed seventh, he finished 19th in the 2007 world championships in Osaka, 20th in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and 14th in the Berlin world championships in 2009 before his Delhi success - and then an 11th placing in the world championships in Korea last year. Interestingly, none of those throws was over 80m.

As is common in sports where subtle adjustments can make large improvements, Farquhar doesn't put down his improvement to any one thing: "There is probably a 100-page technical manual when it comes to the javelin," he said.

"There are always quite a few technical points you can work on. When I saw [a video of] the throw at Hiroshima, I realised I could have done even more. You can always do more-that's the thing.

"So we have made some changes- actually I would call it more evolving -and all those little things add up but they take a while to get to the automatic stage, where they happen without you thinking about them. Iamstill not quite there but there's 90 days or so to go and things seem to be heading in the right direction."

It's a mark of how difficult it can be to make a javelin fly, really fly, that Farquhar's next best throw in Hiroshima was only 79m, compared to his giant 86m effort. In his next competition, also in Japan, he finished third with a best throw of 77.35m.

"I had sort of up-and-down training results before Hiroshima so I know I am not at my peak yet. A lot of it is technique - it's easy to train yourself up, get strong and throw the hell out of a javelin but it will not do any good unless you have the technical things right.

You have to get your legs, hips, torso and shoulders all in the right position to release and get the best results. If you get all that in sync, you have got a good chance of getting it right."

Farquhar's effort in getting it right in Hiroshima has already resulted in him being noticed. He had already been invited to a potentially lucrative Diamond League meeting in Oslo but, since Hiroshima, has also been invited to another Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon. He is now training in Brisbane before heading to theUSnext month-

and knows that the more big meetings he is able to attend, the more he will help take the pressure out of the big day in London.

"When you walk out in front of 80,000 people, the pressure is on. There's a lot more hype and a lot of media and the top end of the sport really comes under the microscope at the big events. You have to performat the top end and that can help you get where you want to go when it comes to something like the Olympic Games."

Age will not be a barrier. The great javelin exponent Jan Selezny was 34 when he won his last Olympic medal, England's Steve Backley 31 and the defending Olympic champion, Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen, is also 30. Competitors from javelin-strong countries like Finland - like Seppo Raty - also threw competitively into their 30s.

The barrier is only what a thrower feels he or she can do when in form, when they are in sync from their legs to their shoulders-and when the javelin planets are all aligned.

- Hamilton News

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