Shot putter David Storl followed in the footsteps of his compatriot Raphael Holzdeppe, who won in 2008, to become the second German male athlete to be honoured as the European Athletics Rising Star since the award was inaugurated in 2007.
There’s no doubt that the 21-year-old heavy-metal loving policeman is a very deserving winner of this year’s award.
The rapidly-improving 2010 European Athletics championships silver medallist fulfilled his role as the favourite for the gold medal at the European Athletics U23 Championships when he won in the Czech city of Ostrava with a championship record of 20.45m.
He then surpassed expectations and surprised everyone by adding another title to his ever-growing list of accolades when he triumphed at this summer’s World Championships.
Storl showed his physical talent and and mental strength in Daegu to come from behind, after lying in second place to the Canada’s 2011 world leader Dylan Armstrong going into the final round, before launching his final effort out to a European under 23 record of 21.78m.
The story of Storl’s road to success in South Korea – where he became the youngest ever world champion in his event and one of only 10 athletes to have won world title at youth, junior and senior level – cannot be told any better than by repeating the words written by Athletics International.
World Youth champion in 2007 and World Junior champion the following year, his progression has been astonishing. Shortly before setting a world junior record of 22.73m with the 6kg shot in 2009 he became the world junior record holder with the full size shot with 20.43m, commented the respected publication of our sport.
In 2010 he improved to 20.77m and this year he reached 21.05m … before producing a monster throw of 21.50m, a European U23 record, in the qualifying round at Daegu. Often athletes suffer a reaction after unleashing a great throw or jump when qualifying, fearful that they may have shot their bolt, but that wasn’t the case with the 1.99m tall German.
Storl started the final nervously with a foul but then provoked huge cheers from his team mates watching in the stands as he sent his implement out to another personal best and continental under 23 record of of 21.60m in the second round.
Armstrong dislodged Storl from pole position when he achieved 21.64m with his fourth attempt and Storl then fouled his fourth and fifth round efforts as he tried to regain the lead but everything came right with the penultimate throw of the competition as Storl’s shot flew out to his winning distance and Armstrong was unable to respond.
I cannot believe it. This is so great. After being the best qualifier, I thought it would be very difficult, said the stunned Storl.
After the qualification a lot of my competitors were saying: Who is David Storl? Now they know. What gave me the motivation for the last attempt? I asked my team mate (2006 European athletics Championships gold medallist) Ralf Bartels about the secret of responding with the last attempt and he told me, added the German.
“It was a very amazing feeling, I couldn’t believe it was such a giant throw, I’m truly enjoying the success right now.”
Storl was already known as a prodigious talent to the rest of the world’s top shot putters, two early signs this year that he was ready to go head-to-head with his elders were a silver medal at the European Athletics Indoor Championships and winning at the SPAR European Team Championships, but his achievement and maturity in Daegu garnered further words of respect.
He’s the future of shot putting for the next 10 years, said the vanquished Armstrong.
Prior to Daegu, Storl and his coached had publicly admitted that his target was a top six place at next summer’s Olympic Games in Daegu, however he has now revised his ambitions. After what I achieved at the World Championships, I don’t think I can now be happy with anything other than a medal in London.
However, he admits that the German and European record of 23.06m, that has belonged to his compatriot Ulf Timmermann since 1988, might take a little longer to achieve.
That could be a few seasons away. Let me get to 22 metres first! After that we will see, joked Storl, answering the inevitably questions about what his limits might be.
David Storl fact file
1990: 27 July Born in Rochlitz, Germany.
2007: wins at the IAAF World Youth Championships.
2008: wins at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
2009: wins at the European Athletics Junior Championships. World junior record of 22.73m with the 6kg shot and world junior record of 20.43m with the senior implement.
2010: silver medal at the European Athletics Championships.
2011: wins at the SPAR European Team Championships, European Athletics U23 Championships and World Championships. Five European U23 shot put records culminating in his Daegu winning distance of 21.78m.