Javelin star Thorkildsen aims to wow home crowd

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Andreas Thorkildsen (l) sizes up rival thrower Matthias de Zordo at a press conference in Oslo on Wednesday (Photo: Lise Åserud/Scanpix)
09:30 CEST+02:00
Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen has already entered into track and field folklore for his exploits in the men's javelin.

But the defending two-time Olympic champion will likely have his work cut out in his bid to match Czech legend Jan Zelezny's haul of three gold medals (1992, 1996, 2000).

German upstart Matthias de Zordo claimed the world title in Daegu, South Korea, last summer to put a serious dent in Thorkildsen's trophy cabinet.

"Matthias has shown his form for a couple of years," the Norwegian said ahead of Thursday's Diamond League Bislett Games meet in Oslo.

"And what he has especially shown is the way he throws in championships. He throws well under pressure.

"Hopefully he'll throw far on Thursday and make me throw further."

Thorkildsen, 30, said he used to compete with De Zordo's coach Boris Henry, a former two-time world bronze medallist for Germany.

"It was back in the day and he used to beat me," he joked.

"But it's fun to see new people come up and throw far... although no one has shown their cards yet. This meet will show what to expect."

The Norwegian, who bases himself in San Diego and speaks perfect English with a strong American accent, said his focus this season was not on the Diamond League but the big competitions.

"After Bislett, I have three or four weeks until the next competition, the European Championships (between June 26-July 1 in Helsinki), and after that Paris and Monaco before the Olympics," he said.

"That leaves me a lot for training. I'm not going to many meets, I'm just focusing on training between the important meets."

Thorkildsen's season was disrupted at the end of last year because his "timing fell apart".

"If there's no timing, the results drop. Luckily it didn't affect the whole season. It took some time to fix," said the home favourite, who set his personal best throw of 91.59m in the Bislett stadium in 2006.

"The margin for error is so small. If something is not right, it'll affect your results."

De Zordo, whose grandfather hails from Italy, admitted that he had been battling nagging back pain that had seen him take a break after returning home from the Shanghai Diamond League meet, and miss out on Eugene last week.

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"The back now is quite good, although there is still a little pain," the 24-year-old said.

"I took a break of one-and-a-half weeks after Shanghai and missed Eugene so as not to worsen my back."

De Zordo acknowledged that Thorkildsen's proven prowess as a thrower meant he took nothing for granted.

"He's in good shape and it'll be hard to beat him," he said. "You know he's a 90m thrower and he doesn't get nervous under pressure."

Also challenging in Oslo will be the consistent Czech Vitezslav Vesely, the winner in Shanghai and Ostrava, the surprise world leader Stuart Farquhar of New Zealand, and former world champion Tero Pitkamaki of Finland.

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