Not so long ago a young shot putter named David Storl dominated the young international scene. A little while later David Storl became with the age of 21 the youngest shot put champion of all time. Now two other German youngster draw attention to themselves: The 17 year-old Patrick Müller and Henning Prüfer are about to step in David Storl’s footsteps.
2007 David Storl won with a 21.40m (70′ 3″) toss the U18 Shot Put World Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic. This winter Patrick Müller has increased his personal indoor best to 21.44m (70′ 4″) and thus pushed himself in the favorite role for this year’s U18 World Championships which will take place in July in Donetsk, Ukraine.
No U18 athlete worldwide has pushed the shot put further than 21.44m (70′ 4″), not even David Storl. His indoor personal best with the 5kg shot put stands with 21.43m (70′ 4″). David Storl was one of the first ones, who congratulated Patrick Müller on his new U18 world record. “He said to me: 1cm is not enough” said Patrick Müller laughing.
His team-mate Henning Prüfer, last year Germany’s best U18 shot putter with a outdoor personal best of 20.16m which ranked him 3rd in the world, had a less rapid start in the indoor season. In December Henning got his appendix removed and had to stay in bed for about four weeks.
Nevertheless, he managed to increase his personal best with the 5kg to 20.74m (68′ ). And at the beginning of March showed the 2.01-meter and 127kg Henning Prüfer what he is really capable of. At the international indoor competition in Ancona, Italy he tossed the 6kg shot to 20.12m (66′). “I knew I could throw 19m but I was really surprised with the 20m (65′ 7″). I did not think that I would be able to throw it that far.
In the year before worldwide only seven U20 athletes achieved better results. However, they were up to two years older than Henning at this time. Henning just turned 17 couple of days after the competition.
Patrick Müller and Henning Prüfer are looking forward to the summer season. They would like to brake some more records and they also both want to medal at the U18 World Championships in Donetsk.
“I’m proud of where I stand with my performance of the indoor season,” said Patrick Müller. “But I still have to be selected to the team. This should be doable. The qualification will take place early in the morning, but that’s not really a problem for me. In the final I definitely want a medal. We will see which color it will be.”
Hennin Prüfer also has an eye on the top three but not only for the shot put. With a personal best of 61.38m (201′ 4″) he also belongs in the discus throw to the world best U18 athletes.
“If I am nominated for both disciplines, I want in both events a medal, that’s a must. If I had to decide on one, then that would be the shot put. The movement sequences are currently easier for me”, said the thrower talent. “However, in the future I will definitely specialize in the discus throw.
Patrick and Henning know that they do not have to hide based on their winter results. In 2012 only four U18 athletes were able to throw over 20m with the 5kg shot put. With the exception of 2011, when the New Zealander Jacko Gill pulverized the U18 world record with 24.35m, less than 22m were enough to win the championships.
22m is the distance of which Patrick and Henning are dreaming off. However, although they share this dream they have taken different paths recently. Until last fall, they were jointly supervised by Torsten Schmidt, now they both switched coaches and train at different places to realize their dreams and goals.
Patrick Müller decided in the fall to specialize in the shot put. Until then, he had been training for the several events, where the focus has always been on the shot put. His new coach knows how to get to the top of international athletes. Gerald Bergman coaches among other for many years Ralf Bartels, who in 2011 became European Indoor Champion.
“Remember the name of Patrick Müller”, said Gerald Bergman after his new protégé exceeded the old U18 world record. However, at the same time he stressed that one cannot compare the performance of Patrick Müller with the current World Champion David Storl at that age. “David Storl started with shot put couple of years later than Patrick did”.
Patrick Müller has grown up with athletics. His mother Ines won became third in shot put at the World Cup 1986 in Rome, Italy. His father was a javelin thrower and his brother Hendrik was one of the Germany’s best young athletes who recently competed at the Throwing European Cup in Castellon, Spain for the national team. Patrick Müller came at the age of six years to athletics and had with the age of 10 the first shot put in his hand.
Henning Prüfer’s parents were both active rowers. With the age of 12 Henning switched from football to athletics and was interested first in the decathlon. But his impressive stature made clear that he should concentrate on throwing. His younger brother Clemens followed his path.
To speed up his career in the discus throw, several months ago Henning has made the decision to join the training squad of the U18/U20 national coach Jörg Schulte which is located in Potsdam.
“Actually Patrick and I should have changed coaches to Gerald Bergmann”, explains Henning. “But there I would have been the only discus thrower among ten shot-putters. And because I want to specialize in the discus throwing, I did not know whether this had been the right decision.”
In Potsdam Henning trains also in close vicinity to world record holder and coach of the national team Jürgen Schult, who also has an eye on the 17-year-old. “We do not follow the exact same training plan as Gordon Wolf and Markus Münch are following but I would still consider us as a training squad.”
But before Henning Prüfer stops throwing the shot put he will still stroll for a while in the footsteps of David Storl – just like Patrick Müller. If all goes according to plan, the two friends reach for medals at the U18 World Championships in Donetsk. And who knows, maybe they fight against each other for gold.