27 May, 2018

Harting, the golden brothers in Rome

Robert and Christoph has won the last two Olympic titles in discus thrown, an unprecedented double in the same specialty.

What makes the Harting brothers unique is their handing over. Harting won the gold medal in London 2012. Four years later Harting won the olympic title in Rio. The only thing that changes is their first name: Robert and Christoph. If Myron was still living, he would consult them to double the statue. Its title would be the Discus Throwers. They have to decide whether to put one in front of the other, changing from marble to bronze. The Bronzes from Germany.

The Harting brothers have colossal bodies, like Thor, the God with the Big Hammer. Twenty-seven year-old Christoph is the younger and the taller brother (2.07m), 33-year-old Robert is the older and is a bit shorter (2.01m). Their weight ranges from 127 kg to 120 kg. They have not an excessive fat body. They come from Cottbus, Brandenburg, the region which feeds the infantries of Fritz der Grosse, who had regiments of giant grenadiers at his disposal, his beloved toys. The Harting brothers are their heirs. They grew up in a family, where both their mother and their father were good shot putters during the GDR times.

It is not the first time that athletes born in the same family leave their mark at the Olympic Games. Ukrainian sisters Tamara and Irina Press won the gold medal in the shot put and in the 80 metres hurdles in Rome in 1960, in the discus throw and in the pentathlon in Tokyo 1964), but the Harting brothers have promoted something more: the law of succession in the same discipline. This happens for the first time in history.

They are completely different brothers from the emotional point of view. When Robert won the world title in Berlin 2009, he turned into the Incredible Hulk apart from the colour of his skin. He ripped his jersey to the joy of photographers, who followed the crazy run of the giant thrower during the lap of honour. That picture gained widespread coverage on newspapers and websites.

Many wondered what Police Inspector Christoph would do after the most sensational win achieved in the final attempt with the personal best (what happens very rarely in a hot global championships competition). He did not do anything. He bowed slightly on the podium at the four cardinal points, as lion-timers or conjurers in tailcoat, he smiled slightly and did not show any particular emotion on the podium, when the German anthem rang out during the medal ceremony. The young athlete was criticized, as he was not very involved emotionally. Had his brother Robert not been criticized when he ripped his jersey?

It’s worth looking back at the last throws of the Olympic final in Rio, when Piotr Malachowski realized that his major rival was Harting, but this was not Robert, who beat the big Polish thrower many times. Piotr looked to have secured the win. He was leading from the first round with 67.32m and 67.55m. The level of discus throw finals normally drops, but the contrary happened this time. Estonia’s Martin Kuiper improved to 66.58m, the other German Daniel Jasinski produced a throw of 67.05m. At this point Christoph was out of the podium in fourth place with 66.34m. He spread his albatross wings and the right one threw the discus to a personal best of 68.37m at the right moment. Malachowski, who was supported by a parterre de roi which included Anita Wlodarczyk and Tomasz Majewki) plunged into the darkness, but in this dark moment he remembered what happened at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin he was leading until the last attempt, when Robert Harting set his personal best with 69.43m knocking him out, like Ali did against Foreman in Kinshasa. Piotr produced a last throw just over 65 metres, before hooking his hands at the net, like a caught bear. Robert did not get through the qualifying round by just more than half a metre in his come-back from a troubled period. There was Christoph. “If I can’t do it, there is my brother. He did it”.

This year Robert Hulk did not better than 63.67m. At European level Christoph produced a seasonal best of 67.59m, one metre and a half behind world champion Andrius Gudzius, who threw the discus to 69.13m, and more than one metre off Austrian Weisshaidinger, who made a huge step forward, when he missed the 69 metres barrier by just 2 cm.