World, European and Olympic discus champion Robert Harting says that Britain’s Lawrence Okoye could be the star of the event in the near future
While British athletics fans were enjoying Robbie Grabarz’s bronze medal in the high jump on Tuesday August 7 and still recovering from the excitement of “Super Saturday” three days prior, Germany was celebrating for a reason of its own.
Discus ace Robert Harting retained his status as ‘the lord of the ring’ by becoming Germany’s first Olympic champion in any track and field event since Heike Drechsler won the long jump in Sydney 2000. In doing so, he hopes that he can lead the way in increasing interest in the throws.
The 28-year-old from Berlin became the first discus thrower to be world, European and Olympic champion all at the same time and further emphasised his dominance in the discipline by extending his winning streak to 33 competitions, dating back to August 2010.
The 2009 and 2011 world champion wants to retain his global crown in Moscow next year but is also determined to continue his winning ways and overhaul one of the all-time greats of the discus circle, Lithuanian Virgilijus Alekna, as the holder of the most consecutive victories in the event.
The 2000 and 2004 Olympic champion Alekna owns this record with 37 straight wins, but Harting is confident that he can gain at least five more to knock his rival off the top spot.
Having launched the 2kg implement to a PB of 70.66m in 2012, Harting credits his improved power for enabling him to stay one step ahead of his rivals. Although he is still some way short of former East German thrower Jürgen Schult’s world record of 74.08m, he doesn’t rule it out and believes in a very simple motto: “Don’t think, just do it.”
The fact he is yet to resume winter training following knee surgery to an injury that bothered him all season does not worry Harting. He is, however, keeping an eye on his rivals, not least Britain’s Lawrence Okoye, who is rapidly becoming a serious contender internationally.
“With more training, he will be the man to beat in the next few years,” says Harting. “This year I met him a lot and we even swapped vests. I look forward to throwing against him next year.”
» This is an excerpt from an interview with Robert Harting in Athletics Weekly. To see the full article, get the November 8 issue of AW, out now.