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DARMSTADT, Germany — Germany’s Thomas Röhler ruled himself out of defending his Olympic javelin title because of a back injury Monday.
Röhler was injured in training and has barely competed this year. He managed one foul throw at the German championships this month before withdrawing from the competition.
“I need to listen to my body now because I want to keep doing my sport for another couple of years at the top level,” the 2018 European champion said on the German Athletics Association website. “By taking part in the Olympic Games I would be risking too much because of this back injury.”
Röhler threw 90.3 meters to win the Olympic gold medal in 2016 ahead of the then-world champion Julius Yego of Kenya. Another German thrower, Johannes Vetter, is considered a contender for the gold medal in Tokyo. The qualifying round in men’s javelin is Aug. 4 and the final is Aug. 7.
Most of the Rio Olympic men’s track and field champions will not be defending their titles in Tokyo.
The list of absentees includes Usain Bolt (100m and 200m, retired), David Rudisha (800m), Mo Farah (5000m and 10,000m), Kerron Clement (400m hurdles), Conseslus Kipruto (3000m steeplechase), Derek Drouin (high jump), Jeff Henderson (long jump), Christian Taylor (triple jump), Dilshod Nazarov (hammer, doping ban), Ashton Eaton (decathlon, retired) and Wang Zhen (20km racewalk).
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Thomas Röhler the latest Rio Olympic track and field champion to miss Tokyo originally appeared on NBCSports.com