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    Vilagos impresses again at the JenJavelin Festival

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    Serbia’s 17-year-old super-talent Adriana Vilagos continued her streak of stunning throws when she won the women’s competition at the fifth edition of the JenJavelin Festival in Jena, Germany with 61.65m on Sunday (19).

    Vilagos, who was crowned the world U20 champion in Nairobi last month and will still be young enough to defend her title in two years’ time, hit her big throw in the fourth round to produce the only throw of the day over 60 metres.

    The challenging conditions proved to be a handful for the rest of the strong international field, including Latvia’s former European U23 champion Lina Muze who had to settle for second with 59.78m.

    More helpful conditions would probably have seen Vilagos attack her personal best of 62.36m set in Zagreb last Tuesday, which moved her up to fifth on the world U20 all-time list and third on its European equivalent.

    Nevertheless, Vilagos has another two years to beat the current world U20 record of 63.86m by Cuba’s Yulenmis Aguilar, although Greece’s Elina Tzengko threw 63.96m last year but the effort could not be ratified for record purposes.

    Not throwing but instead working behind-the-scenes and organising the Festival was Germany’s 2016 Olympic and 2018 European champion Thomas Röhler, who is still recovering from a back injury he suffered in training earlier in the year.

    The JenJavelin Festival has been very much part of the Jena-born and bred thrower’s DNA since he talked to representatives of European Athletics Partner Mondo in 2017.

    He approached Mondo with the wish that he wanted to train on a Mondotrack WS surface that he had experienced at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games because of its unique non-slip properties.

    Two 100-metre strips were installed at the Jena Javelin Centre in April 2018 in exchange for the Club’s commitment to let Mondo use the javelin runways until 2024 as a test area for certain track surfacing materials, all allowing the use of the 12mm spikes used by javelin throwers.

    Some of the research was included in the development of the Mondotrack WS TY surface that was laid down in Tokyo’s National Stadium in 2019 in anticipation of the Olympic Games in the Japanese capital.

    In the coming years, Mondo plans to continue its research in Jena with a view to advising its work on a track surface for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

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    The Mondo run-ups were flanked over the weekend by avid fans, from top coaches to interested members of the general public, as the city has several strong connections to the javelin that even precede Rohler taking up the event.

    The men’s world record of 98.48m by the Czech legend Jan Zelezny was achieved in 1996 in the nearby Ernst Abbe Stadium – which also had a Mondo surface – while Germany’s 1988 Olympic women’s champion and four-time world record breaker Petra Felke also hails from Jena and is now a very respected coach in the city.

    Another outstanding performance in Jena came on Saturday in the men’s U18 competition when Germany’s Max Dehning achieved a personal best and 2021 world-leading U18 distance of 80.11m on his first attempt with the 700gm implement. 

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    Dehning didn’t make the final at this summer’s European Athletics U20 Championships, having only had a handful of competitions with the heavier 800gm senior implement that was used in Tallinn – where his elder sister Marie won the heptathlon bronze medal – but is young enough to have another chance in two years’ time when the Championships are held in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca.