Andreas Thorkildsen has let his hair and beard grow as he also opts for an abrupt change in his career after years of ranking as one of Norway’s top athletes. The winner of two Olympic gold medals and multiple others is throwing in his javelin and joining the ranks of TV commentators.
Thorkildsen, now age 34, recently announced that he’d simply begun to physically be aware that his plans for a comeback needed to be put on ice. Hip trouble led to an operation in the fall of 2014 and what was supposed to be a year of recovery in 2015. He planned to shine again this year, but it didn’t happen: Thorkildsen decided to retire after failing to push himself to the max at a training camp in the US this spring.
“He took contact with me and said ‘this isn’t happening,'” Kjetil Hildeskov, secretary general of the Norwegian athletics association told NRK in mid-May. “He had tried to throw the javelin with full strength at full speed, like he needs to be able to do. He had ambitions of winning another medal at the Olympics in Rio.” But his hip was too painful. It just didn’t function like it must.
Thorkildsen returned to Norway and met reporters late last week. Instead of taking part in the Olympics this summer, he’ll be commentating on it for TV2’s Norwegian coverage instead.
“It will be a soft transition to working life,” Thorkildsen told news bureau NTB.
He confirmed that while training in San Diego, he’d increased the intensity and “could feel it wasn’t going in the right direction,” he said. “It’s just time to do something different.”
Thorkildsen has been much more than just a javelin thrower for Norway. For many years he was Norway’s only medal hope during the summer sports season. With his two Olympic gold medals, both gold and silver in the World Championships, two European Championship gold medals and victory in the Diamond League, sports commentators rank him as one of the greatest Norwegian athletes of all time.
Now the national hero from Kristiansand will be thinking about what to do next, after his expert commentator stint in Rio is over. Coaching is a natural alternative. “Norwegian sports officials aren’t always good at taking care of the competence the best athletes have acquired over the years,” editorialized newspaper Aftenposten. “A man who has dominated international javelin throwing is worth bringing forward for others.”