Athletics official killed after being hit by javelin in Germany


An athletics referee speared through the throat with a javelin at an athletics meeting in Germany has died from his injuries in hospital.

The official, named as Dieter Strack, 74, had gone to measure a throw at the youth event at a Düsseldorf sports stadium on Sunday but was hit by a javelin before it hit the ground.

The annual Wilhelm Unger Games event for young athletes was called off after the incident.

The 15-year-old competitor who threw the javelin and some people in the crowd who witnessed the freak accident received counselling, a police spokesman said.

"The official started walking towards the javelin before it had landed," a Düsseldorf fire brigade spokesman said. "He was hit in the head, in the cheek and also sustained a wound to his carotid artery. He was bleeding very badly and lost a lot of blood."

Mr Strack was taken to Düsseldorf's University Hospital, but died later of his injuries. "His death was the result of a tragic accident," a Düsseldorf police spokesman said yesterday.

Hundreds took part in the youth athletics event watched by 800 spectators at a stadium in the Rath district of Düsseldorf.

A statement on the website of the local athletics association identified the man as Mr Strack and said he was a "much-loved and experienced" sports judge.

"All of us who were there are horrified and in shock... We will always remember Dieter Strack," the statement said.

Occasional accidents occur in athletics disciplines such as the javelin and the hammer, but deaths are extremely rare.

In 2007, French long jumper Salim Sdiri was speared by a javelin at an athletics meeting in Rome and had to be taken to hospital for his injuries.