Just in time for the outdoor season Germany’s top javelin throwers, Andreas Hofmann, Lars Hamann, Thomas Rohler and Johannes Vetter, dropped a slick video across their social media channels with no information other than the title NEW UNLIMITED. Olympic champion Thomas Rohler tells us what it's all about.

Thomas, why the mystery surrounding the video?

We deliberately didn’t provide any info other than the small NEW UNLIMITED note in the caption. The main idea was to raise awareness of our event, given we are pretty much one of the strongest events on the national team at the moment. 

Boris Obergföll [javelin head coach] is organising a meet in Offenburg [southern Germany]. My coach and I are organising a meet in Jena [eastern Germany], and we figured we have to promote those events somehow. We all agreed that promoting each of them individually would be silly, so instead decided to try and raise awareness of javelin as an event. 

We want to appeal to a new audience who maybe aren’t athletics fans already – that’s why the javelins don’t even feature that much in the video and are more of a prop rather than a throwing implement. We’re trying to really appeal to the mainstream market, what’s being discussed internationally at the moment, how can we generate some new fans for athletics? Well, there’s four good reasons right there. On top of that, it was four guys having a bit of a laugh while out on warm weather training in South Africa.

Who directed, filmed and edited the whole thing?

The one who tends to regularly post the odd video [laughs] … me.

German Javelin Throwers: New Unlimited (Thomas Rohler)

How has it been received so far?

We’re pretty happy with the result so far – we even made it on the front page of BILD’s sport section [Germany’s biggest daily], which is kind of what we were trying to achieve. Those are the type of sports fans we are trying to reach, who haven’t really heard much about track and field before. So that was the main goal behind the whole idea.

What was the reaction outside the media?

The overall response was very positive. What was interesting in the way we released the video – all of us posting the same from our own accounts – the reactions to us individually were all the same. A lot of young athletes got in touch or shared the video with their friends along the lines of ‘look at these guys, that’s just one of the reasons why I do athletics and why athletics is a cool sport’.

It's something we spoke about in the past, there’s this constant debate whether athletics is ‘cool’ or how we can make it more attractive? But aren’t we supposed to be the one sport that incorporates everyone and encourages all different types of movement? Our history is in the instinctive movements; the running, jumping, throwing, hunting? The ancient Greek athletic body types you’ll see in museums, that’s basically us and we should be proud of that.

Germany's Javelin Men by Thomas Rohler

That’s interesting. The male physique isn’t normally discussed as much as e.g. female athletes’ bodies, right?

That’s a really good point. That’s even more reason why it’s good that we did this. I don’t think any of us really thought of it that way, but you’re absolutely right. Our sport is one where the mainstream media or outsiders will refer to ‘sexy’ female high jumpers or pole vaulters, whereas us guys aren’t necessarily regarded in that sense.

I’m sure some people might take this the wrong way and will argue, ‘they have so much to show for athletically, why would they even feel the need to show off like that?’ It’s another way of interpreting it, but luckily that's not the feedback we received so far.

I think sometimes it’s important to produce something controversial or encourage debate in order to raise awareness of something and I’d say our video was still a fairly soft approach. We wanted for those not familiar with track and field to watch the video and think ‘what are those sticks these guys are carrying around?’

We couldn’t help but also see a hint of irony in there. Was that intended?

Yes and no. I think our individual characters are just like that. If you watch us during competitions – Diamond Leagues, the ISTAF in Berlin, or even the Olympics last year – we don’t take ourselves or each too seriously, despite us being real opponents.

We all have that little rascal within us and I think that actually helps us in competition when others might not be as relaxed or mentally at ease anymore, we stay calm.

German Javelin Throwers: New Unlimited (Thomas Rohler)

So what’s next in this project? You mention various meets you guys are putting on in the summer?

The meets aren’t a series or anything yet, especially on the elite end we’ve been working on the fields independently. 

The one thing we are working on together in Offenburg, Jena and in Halle is what we call the ‘Javelin Kids Cup’. It’s kind of going back to the roots, a regular talent selection, where we want to see as many 5th and 6th graders give the javelin a go. In some ways it serves its own purpose, but certainly having Johannes Vetter as a local in Offenburg and me as a local in Jena, it helps bring in new talent. By running it under the same title, it means we can potentially grow it over the coming years, depending on how this year’s events turn out. 

 

Watch the full video below: