How Javelin Thrower Johannes Vetter Masters Mental Crises – SWR Sport

Things are not going well for javelin thrower Johannes Witter. In the year following the great Olympic disappointment, the best athlete (LG Offenburg) is falling behind. Once again, Vetter has to go through a crisis. Just like in 2017, about his big victory in the World Cup.

Johannes Vetter recently canceled his start in two internationals and is working to improve his training form three weeks before the German championships in Berlin. “It’s exhausting both physically and mentally because we’ve never experienced it this way before,” the 29-year-old said. “I thought I could do better in the first competitions of the season.”

But with 85.64m from the start of the encounter at home in Offenburg two weeks ago, Vetter is only third on Germany’s annual list of the best player after Andreas Hoffmann and Julian Weber. Usually he drives them for distances of more than 90 meters.















Vetter knows times like these when he has to mentally push himself to the breaking point. Born in Dresden in 1993, he describes himself as a “post-reunification producer”. His whole family was athletic: parents were passionate about volleyball, younger sister Alexandra has now switched to handball. For Vetter, family means security. His mother’s cancer struck the first athlete most painfully. Before the 2017 World Championships in Athletics in London, she suffered from a brain tumor. “She was always my reference point,” Vetter says in the SWR interview. “We were mentally and emotionally on the same wavelength.”

Maternal brain surgery just before the World Cup

It was even more difficult for Vetter that his mother, who had always accompanied him throughout his sporting life, could not be there for his big victory at the World Cup in London. “Tickets had already been bought for my mum and dad. Because of the cancer diagnosis, brain surgery was imminent. A week before my final participation, I had surgery. My dad was on the field and my mum was home on the couch. It was a great feeling, to give her that title.” Tears rolled down the cheeks of the world champion on the field after his victory. “I think that title gave her some strength during this difficult time.” Vetter’s mother passed away in 2018. A selfie is hanging in the hallway of his apartment today.

“You don’t want to spoil me”

The summer of 2021 was also a mental challenge for the strong athlete. As the world’s best of the year with 96.29 metres, Vetter was also the favorite for the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in August, but couldn’t handle his aggressive throwing technique on the smooth surface of the racetrack. The ninth place with 82.52 meters instead of the Olympic champion was the disappointing result in the end. He told SWR, “I could definitely get into that, but I don’t want to at all. This would take away a lot of positive life energy from me.”

The world class athlete from LG Offenburg is currently facing other problems to solve. “I have some technical issues and physical issues follow that. Small dribbling movements put excessive pressure on muscle groups, ligaments and tendons. Unfortunately, the force isn’t going in the right direction at the moment – and then it hurts here and there.” The German record holder cannot run maximum distances, as he was 97.76 meters ahead of 2020, and was only 72 cm behind the world record of Czech Jan Zelezny.

listen to the body

“I won’t be doing any more competitions for the next two weeks. I’m looking at it from day to day.” If there is a four-week break, he will have to accept that too, Witter recently told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

He still has some time. After the German Championships on June 25 in Berlin, the following sporting events will appear: the World Championships in the USA (15-24 July) and the European Championships at home in Munich (15-21 August). Vetter is confident he can restore his old form. He has long learned how to deal with setbacks.

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