Harting taking no chances with 'sacred' throwing hand

 09 Aug 2016 - 17:30

Harting taking no chances with 'sacred' throwing hand
Robert Harting (AFP / Franck FIFE)

Berlin: Reigning Olympic discus champion Robert Harting has gone left-handed for any daily tasks to protect his "sacred" throwing hand as he bids to retain his title in Rio.

The 31-year-old German giant touched down in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday and is taking no chances with his health before the athletics section of the Olympics starts on Friday.

He arrived in Brazil wearing shorts and long socks to lower the risk of deep-vein thrombosis, and has been training in Portugal, he says, to reduce the effects of the time difference.

But the most drastic precaution of all has seen Harting switch hands for mundane tasks.

"I open doors, for example, only with my left hand," he told German daily Bild on his arrival in Rio, admitting he uses a pumice stone to keep his medal-winning right hand in top condition.

"It's not being superstitious, I'm just cautious.

"My right hand, my throwing hand, is sacred to me, I don't touch anything with it anymore."

He also explained why he chose to skip the opening ceremony in Rio to train in Portugal, rather than in Germany.

"The time difference with Brazil is less and the climate is similar," he explained.

Harting's caution is understandable given the fate of the middle finger on his right hand.

"I wanted to shorten the walk to the training ground in October 2011 and caught my finger while climbing a fence," he said.

"The result was five operations and six weeks in hospital.

"I always stretch the middle finger to release the tension. It needs to be nice and soft for competition, so the discus can push in more (before throwing)."