German steers our javelin ace
April 15, 2008
By Mike Hurst
AUSTRALIA’S Olympic javelin throw medal hope Jarrod Bannister has a new coach _ former East German world recordholder Uwe Hohn, a titan who changed the shape of his sport.
Hohn has been working with the young Queenslander at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for the last three days and plans to remain there for another month with the support of Athletics Australia who have wisely sanctioned what some may feel is a dangerous liaison.
The East German never failed a drugs test and there is no suggestion that Hohn or Bannister would ever become involved with performance-enhancing drugs.
But a previous regime at AA were stung badly in 1997 when they tried to hire Dr Ekkart Arbeit, the former chief throws coach and subsequently head coach of the former communist sports power after it was revealed that he was a mastermind of the East German national doping plan.
As a consequence a veil of secrecy has surrounded Hohn’s presence in Canberra where he last competed at the 1985 World Cup winning with a massive throw of 96.96m.
No mere spear carrier in the theatre of athletics, Hohn was so great that he threw the javelin a world record 104.80m, a distance which in some stadia would have seen the deadly device land in the spectator seating area and certainly on the track in most other arenas.
Due to such fears, the IAAF changed the aerodynamics of the men’s javelin in April 1986 and no man since has cracked the 100m barrier. The world record with the new javelin is 98.48m thrown by Czech Jan Zelezny in 1996.
But Hohn has hopes that Bannister, who was born in October 1984 three months after Hohn’s historic world record, may be the next 100-metre man.
Bannister, 23, has the world’s longest throw so far this year with the 89.02m he threw with her previous coach, Victoria’s Garry Calvert, at the Australian championships last month in Brisbane. If he could repeat that distance in the Beijing final, he will almost certainly win a medal and quite possibly the gold.
But Bannister split with Calvert over a financial disagreement and sought out Hohn who was back in Germany having completed a three-year coaching term in Qatar.
Confronted with the facts by The Daily Telegraph yesterday, AA chief executive Danny Corcoran said: "Jarrod came to us and said, look, unfortnately I’ve split with my coach [Calvert] and then we had the scenario that he had contacted Uwe.
"We were obviously concerned for Jarrod because we have never in the history of our country had an 89-metre javelin thrower, a distance which puts him in medal contention for Beijing.
"So he said he wanted to follow this course of action and we said, OK, we’ll assist you to give you the best possible chance in Beijing.
"I asked Jarrod whether he was sure his relationship with his coach [Calvert] was finished. He said yes. I said what are you going to do? He said ‘I’m going to Germany’.
"Not that we wanted control, but we felt if Jarrod went to Germany we would lose control of a rudderless kid with plans that could go belly-up. Anyway, fortunately, we’ve been able to organise for Uwe to come to Australia for only the cost of a basic flight.
“I’m more comfortable with this than leaving Jarrod in Germany because he needs sports science backup, medical, physiotherapy _ everything he needs can be provided in Australia.”