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Back in Doha, Thorkildsen targets success in a new role

Norway's former javelin throw star is passing on his immense knowledge to the new generation.
Former Olympic Javelin Throw Champion Andreas Thorkildsen With His Trainee Sara Kolak Of Croatia At The Qatar Sports Club Stadium After A Training Session
Former Olympic javelin throw champion Andreas Thorkildsen with his trainee Sara Kolak of Croatia at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium after a training session. Photo: Inside Qatar

Former Norwegian javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen has always managed to turn heads with his movie-star good looks.

Thorkildsen was quite a force on the field too, becoming the first male javelin thrower to hold the European (2010, Barcelona), World Championships (’09, Berlin) and Olympic (’08, Beijing) titles at the same time.

The double Olympic champion, who retired five years ago with an injury, has found another calling — coaching — and currently trains ’16 Rio Olympics javelin throw gold medallist Sara Kolak of Croatia and Austrian heptathlete Ivona Dadic.

“I had trained several children part-time before, but this is my first full-time attempt. It’s only been a few months with Kolak and Dadic, but I’m enjoying it,” Thorkildsen told Inside Qatar.

The javelin ace had tried several other career options, including as a TV commentator for the ’16 Rio Games and runway model for a fashion line.

Kolak, 24, said the Norwegian’s guidance was helping her a lot.

“What can I say, he’s had a lot of experience winning on the biggest of stages. I’m learning a lot from him every day, and I’m thankful for the opportunity,” she said.

Having been a successful athlete, and now a coach, which role does Thorkildsen enjoy more? The answer went along expected lines.

“I still miss the excitement of being an athlete in the middle of the competition, where you control your own narrative. But as a coach, you’re at the mercy of your wards and their performances. I’ll have to get used to it,” said Thorkildsen, who first won the Olympic gold at Athens in 2004.

The soft-spoken 37-year-old, who was a regular at the Doha Diamond League during his heyday, was also one of the city’s bid ambassadors for the ’17 IAAF World Championships, which eventually went to London.

He said it was great to see the Qatari capital finally hosting the mega event.

“I was Doha’s bid ambassador and always believed they deserved to host the IAAF Worlds. So it’s a great feeling of satisfaction to see them finally do it. From what I’ve seen so far, the preparations are outstanding, and I expect some sensational performances,” he said.

Some of those sensational performances could come in men’s javelin throw, where Thorkildsen said he had some clear favourites.

“If Germany’s defending world champion Johannes Vetter is healthy, he can easily retain his title. But he’s had some injuries and hence had a short season. His compatriots Andreas Hoffman, Thomas Rohler and Bernhard Seifert are all in good shape. Chinese Taipei’s Chao-Tsun Cheng and Estonia’s Magnus Kirt are also athletes to keep an eye on,” he signed off.