The two-year-old Prefontaine Classic and Hayward Field record in the men’s javelin is in serious jeopardy, as the two farthest throwers in the world lead the best field ever assembled in this event at the Pre meet.
The field is impressively deep with all three medalists from last year’s World Championships, three of the last four IAAF Diamond Trophy winners, and even the world Junior (Under 20) record holder.
Most of the focus will be on German rivals Johannes Vetter and Thomas Röhler, who won the gold medals at the London World Championships and Rio Olympics, topped the Track & Field News world rankings the last two years and produced the three longest throws since the turn of the century. The only man who has ever thrown farther than either is world record holder Jan Zelezny, whose 323-1 (98.48) dates back to 1996.
The current Hayward Field and Prefontaine Record of 286-7 (87.37) was set in 2016 by Ihab Abdelrahman of Egypt. Last year Vetter and Röhler threw farther than that mark a combined 38 times!
Johannes Vetter, who will turn 25 on March 26, reached the pinnacle in August with his gold medal in the London World Championships. A month earlier he launched the spear an amazing 309-10 (94.44), the farthest since Zelezny’s WR and an improvement of over 15 feet. His ascension to the medal podium almost came in Rio, where after leading early he finished 4th, less than a foot (0.23m) away from a bronze.
Vetter’s victory in London placed him among Germany’s all-time best, which includes some familiar names. The only other man from the re-unified Germany to earn a World Championships javelin medal was his coach, Boris Henry, with a bronze in 1995 and 2003. The last World javelin gold medalist from Germany was Christina Obergföll in 2013 with the women’s spear. Henry and Obergföll (also the Pre Classic women’s meet record holder) were married later in 2013 (Henry now uses the Obergföll surname).
Vetter has opened up the 2018 season on fire, recording the earliest 300-footer in history with a 304-1 (92.70) at the European Throwing Cup last weekend in Portugal.
Thomas Röhler, 26, made his own history in Rio, becoming the first German man to strike Olympic javelin gold since 1972. Last year he opened up with his best-ever 308-1 (93.90) at Doha, still the Diamond League record. A month later, he added a 300-3 (91.53) to become the first since Zelezny to have a pair of 300-footers in the same season (Vetter would match the feat by the end of the summer).
Röhler narrowly missed adding another medal last year in London, but he was edged by Petr Frydrych in the last round by 2 inches (6cm) for the bronze. Röhler has been world-ranked No. 1 or No. 2 three of the last four years by T&FN, the only javelinist with as many top rankings. He won the 2014 Diamond League trophy.
Jakub Vadlejch, 27, of the Czech Republic, won his second straight Diamond League trophy last year. The only other two-time DL winner in this event was also from the Czech Republic – Vitezslav Vesely in 2012 and ’13. Vadlejch was the closest to Vetter at last year’s World Championships, claiming the silver with a massive PR of 294-4 (89.73) for his first major medal.
Petr Frydrych, 30, made his medal debut last in year in London, earning bronze with a PR 289-9 (88.32) at the World Championships. The closest he had ever come to a medal was in 2009, when he was 10th at the World Championships. It was a special moment for the Czech Republic with two standing on the podium for the first time. One of those smiling was Frydrych’s coach, Jan Zelezny, 3-time Olympic gold medalist.
Germany’s Andreas Hofmann, 26, is sometimes overlooked, coming from the powerful German group. He has given Germany three finalists in both of the last two World Championships and last August just missed joining the 300-foot club with a PR 298-9 (91.07) to earn silver at the World University Games in Taipei.
India’s Neeraj Chopra, 20, set the world Junior (U20) record of 283-9 (86.48) as an 18-year-old winning the 2016 World Junior Championships in Poland. He broke the old record by over 6 feet. Last week, Chopra recorded his second-longest throw ever at 281-11 (85.94).
The final positions in the field will be filled later this spring with the best-performing throwers not already included.
|Men’s Javelin||Personal Best|
|Johannes Vetter (Germany)||309-10||(94.44)|
|Thomas Röhler (Germany)||308-1||(93.90)|
|Andreas Hofmann (Germany)||298-9||(91.07)|
|Jakub Vadlejch (Czech Republic)||294-4||(89.73)|
|Petr Frydrych (Czech Republic)||289-9||(88.32)|
|Neeraj Chopra (India)||283-9||(86.48)|
Tickets for the 44th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 25-26 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now at www.GoDucks.com as well as from 1-800-WEBFOOT. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience by NBC.
The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. The Pre Classic’s results score has rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the world in each of the last seven years by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League.