The next time I got to see Perkovic throw in person was last August at the European Championships in Zurich. The weather was all over the place that week, and there was a bit of rain on and off the day of the women’s disc prelims.
I asked Torsten Schmidt how an elite thrower should approach their prelim throws. Do you get in there and try to knock the hell out of one to be sure you reach the automatic qualifying distance on your first throw? Do you take a low key approach so you have plenty of adrenaline left for the final?
He told me that the elite athlete has to find a balance. They must enter the ring on their first throw focused enough to get the job done, but they also must try to conserve energy.
Robert Harting played it perfectly in round one of the men’s discus in Zurich. He looked almost casual as he dropped one out to 67m. You can see that throw here at the 1:24 mark:
Anita Wlodarczyk did the same thing in the women’s hammer prelim. Even though it was raining like a bastard, she calmly launched a first round 75.73m and was probably warm and dry back in her hotel room by the time the rest of the field had been sorted out.
Interesting story. Betty Heidler also surpassed the automatic qualifying mark on her first prelim throw in Zurich, after which there was a long and unexplained delay which ended when she returned to the ring and launched another throw of about the same distance, then packed it in for the day.
I had no clue why Betty had to take two throws (here she is walking over to talk to her coach during the delay)
until I got to talk with her the morning after the women’s hammer final when I attended a press conference at the hotel where the German athletes were staying.
In an earlier post I described my experience at the German press conference the morning after the men’s shot final when I finally got to ask David Storl why he had been throwing without a reverse for most of the summer. Everybody in the room spoke German except me, so I felt a little teeny bit like an intruder when I raised my hand and asked, “May I speak to David in English?”
The guy running those press conferences is, I’m sure, a good dude, but I wouldn’t go so far as to describe him as “friendly” or “welcoming.” So, I got to ask my question but he didn’t exactly go out of his way to make me feel welcome.
Anyway, the morning after the women’s hammer final (which Wlodarczyk dominated–you can see a video of it here:
although I don’t have Anita’s 79m bomb because the men’s high jump was going on at the same time and I got distracted when Bogdan Bondarenko was attempting some ungodly height) I showed up at the German press conference again but this time I was late because I had run into Torsten in the lobby and had a nice chat with him.
Now, there are certain stereotypes in this world that are ridiculous (English teachers are nerds, Irish men have small…bladders) but there are some stereotypes which contain a nugget or two of truth, and one of those is that Germans have very little tolerance for…shall we say, “inefficiency.”
And walking into a press conference late definitely qualifies as an inefficiency. As does neglecting to shut the door behind you when there is lots of noise and activity in the hallway.
So the guy in charge of the press conference looks at me, frowns, sighs, walks off the podium, goes to the back of the room and shuts the door.
Now, Betty was not very happy at that particular moment because she did not throw well the night before. She finished fifth, and as you can see in this photo, she was more than a little disappointed.
But the thing is, I love Betty.
It’s cool. My wife knows.
I have a great marriage, in large part because my wife has endless patience for my eccentricities, one of which is my love for Betty Heidler.
And who among you could blame me?
If you are reading this blog, and are a male, I know that “pretty, great personality, world record holder in the hammer” basically describes your dream girl.
So stop judging.
Anyway, when the press conference broke up Betty just about sprinted towards the exit, but I intercepted her and found myself talking to the world record holder in the hammer the same way I would talk to one of my high school throwers after a disappointing performance.
“Betty, you are a great thrower. You’re going to come back from this.”
She brightened up a bit, and I asked her what happened in the prelims that she had to take an extra throw.
“It was the same as the Olympics!” she said. “They did not measure the throw!”
Gotta go. More on Betty, and back to Perkovic next time.