Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen got better and better on the way to his second Olympic gold medal in 2008. Thorkildsen never trailed in the javelin competition, opening with an 84.74-meter toss (278 feet, 0 inches). His third-round effort of 87.93/288-5 would’ve been good enough to win the gold, but he topped himself with an Olympic record 90.57/297-1 throw in the fifth round. In 2009 he owned seven of the world’s top ten throws, including a world-best 91.28/299-5. He gained his first World Outdoor Championship in Berlin, again posting the competition’s two best throws, including a winning effort of 89.59/293-11.
While there was no clear javelin favorite at the 2004 Olympics, Thorkildsen’s triumph was still surprising. His preliminary throw of 81.74/268-2 topped the automatic qualification mark but was well short of American Breaux Greer’s 87.25/286-3. But Thorkildsen opened the final by throwing 84.82/278-3, then tossed a personal best 86.50/283-9 to take the lead, which he never relinquished. After winning the gold, Thorkildsen described the feeling as “completely insane.”
When Thorkildsen began throwing the javelin at age 11 he was coached by his father, Tomm, a former javelin thrower whose personal best was 71.64/235-0. Thorkildsen’s mother, Bente Amundsen, was also an athlete, having won the national 100-meter hurdles title in 1972. Under his father’s coaching Thorkildsen finished seventh in the 1999 European Junior Championships. In 2000, he took second in both the Norwegian Championships and the World Junior Championships. Since 2001, when he moved to Oslo, Thorkildsen has been coached by Asmund Martinsen, who won the bronze medal in javelin at the 1994 Norwegian Championships.
Thorkildsen had plenty of success between his Olympic triumphs but fell just short at the World Championships, placing second in both 2005 and 2007 before breaking through in 2009. He was ranked No. 1 in the world for the first time in 2006, the year in which he set his personal best of 91.59/300-6 at the Bislett Games. He also earned the European Championship in 2006 and is the only javelin thrower to win European, Olympic and World championships. Thorkildsen set a world junior record, which still stands, of 83.87/275-2 in 2001.
- Height: 6-2
- Weight: 198
- Birth date: April 1, 1982
- Hometown: Kristiansand, Norway
- Personal best: 91.59 meters (300 feet, 6 inches)