The sport javelin throw has been dominated by German javelin throwers for some time now. The likes of Johannes Vetter have been breaching the 90m mark consistently with ease. The Kraft Training Gerat (KTG), a specialised strength-training equipment is believed to have played a big role in Germany’s domination of javelin throw.
The former German international in India’s coaching staff, coach Uwe Hohn and biomechanics expert Dr Klaus Bartonietz, were keen on Olympic-bound javelin throwers Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh getting the same facility as their European counterparts. Following a hunt of over two years, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) finally managed to import the KTG.
To begin with, the KTG manufacturer in Germany conveyed their inability to send the equipment. “They informed us that they are not producing it commercially and hence are unable to supply it to us. The German company produces this machine only for their athletes,” the AFI’s chief national coach Radhakrishnan Nair told The Indian Express.
China’s TH sports provides Germany’s success recipe to Indian javelin throwers
India’s hunt came to an end with a a call to China’s athletics federation. TH Sports, based in Jinan, the capital of China’s Shandong province, agreed to help with their version of the KTG following a series of deliberations. The Chinese variant is quite similar to the German one. It has a sled attached to an inclined beam, which can be loaded with weights upto 13.8 kg.
Javelin throwers can fling the hand-held sled to mimic the javelin-throwing action while. An ideal trajectory and velocity of the throw are displayed by the machine in real-time.
“We were tracking this from December 2018. We finally found (a manufacturer), but then there was a lockdown in China and the area where it is manufactured became a containment zone. So they were not able to transport it to the port. Finally, they shipped it around February 2021,” Nair said.
Bartonietz, who was part of the team that developed the simple but effective device, shares that normal weight training doesn’t help in developing the throwing power of athletes.“The key for high release speed is the development of javelin-specific throwing power. Lifting weights cannot do this. Athletes must accelerate weights, throw heavy stuff and you can do it on such a machine,” Bartonietz said in an AFI statement.
However, the biomechanics expert warned that the KTG should be used only by experienced athletes and under the guidance of a coach. “Mind you, it is not for young athletes as it is not a magic machine,” he said.
Although we are less than two months away from the Olympics, the installation of the machines at the NIS will help Indian throwers, AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said. “I am happy our athletes will get the best training using this. These machines were imported with great difficulty due to the pandemic,” he said.