Madrid — Germany’s reigning discus world champion Robert Harting was the metaphorical elephant in the throwing cage at the Samsung Diamond League in London on Saturday.
OK, it’s probably a bit unfair to describe the 26-year-old Berlin soldier as a trunked pachyderm but, standing 2.01m/6-7 and 126kg/278lbs in his specialist shoes, he’s a big guy by even the standards of his contemporaries.
In the British capital, while most of the rest of the world’s top exponents of his art were going through their paces, Harting was at home nursing several bruised and blistered fingers.
Nevertheless, and the likes of Vigilijus Alekna and Gerd Kanter should take note, he’s sure he will be ready to defend his title by the time the World Championships get going at the end of the month.
“I haven’t been around in the last few weeks as I’m training meticulously for the World Championships. I’m also visiting the physiotherapist three times a day to ensure I recover from the effects of driving myself so hard,” commented Harting on his website on Monday.
Harting has already racked up some impressive numbers this year which should have already given the rest of the top discus throwers some pause for thought.
He is currently undefeated in all 10 of his competitions this year and led the world with his 68.99m / 226-3½ effort from May until Hungary’s talented but erratic and injury prone ZoltÃ¡n KovÃ¡go topped it with 69.50m / 228-0 a week ago. He was also a fine winner in abysmal conditions at the SPAR European Team Championships in Stockholm back in June.
As he has proved time and time again, Harting is the man for all seasons, one of the few discus throwers who can seemingly cope with whatever Mother Nature throws their way.
However, perhaps the person who should perhaps fear Harting the most is the man, or woman, who is brave enough to don the outfit of the 2011 World Championships mascot Sarbi, which is apparently a multi-colored dog, on the night of the men’s discus final on August 30.
Remember what happened to Berlino? If you don’t, the footage of the one-sided bout Man v Cuddly Bear is embedded above.
Berlino was, for many people, almost as big a star as the athletes at the last World Championships but the precocious animal who habitually greeted gold medalists met his match as he tried to bear-hug Harting after his victory and found himself shown a few moves that would have impressed a WWF audience.
Harting managed to toss Berlino over his back, leaving his furry opponent stunned and bemused, or at least that was what was diplomatically reported.
The local crowd that night clearly didn’t mind Harting’s exuberant man-handling of Berlino as they cheered his triumph in his home city to the rafters of the 1936 Olympic stadium, one of two German gold medalists in 2009.
“I thought I’d give the crowd something to entertain them. I want to defend my title in Daegu so that I can wrestle with that mascot too,” Harting told Universal Sports a few months ago.
On that note, all I can say is “Sarbi: be scared, be very scared.”