Estonia erupted with joy when Gerd Kanter became the first athlete to give them an Olympic gold when he won the discus throw in Beijing in 2008. Four years down the line, expectations have risen even more. And as the clock ticks towards London 2012, Estonians are hoping for a repeat from their favourite son.
“As the Olympics is coming closer, people are more curious and they really want to see me succeed again. I also want to live up to their expectations and do really well at the Games in London,” said a confident Kanter after a training session at the Aspire Academy yesterday.
Winning your country’s first Olympic medal could be a life-altering experience but Kanter feels things haven’t changed much.
“I don’t think life has changed much but whatever little has changed is only in a positive way. We are a small country and if something big like this happens, you become a hero overnight. Everyone knows you when you walk on the street. I think it’s been a positive change and I’m enjoying it. So I want to do it again,” said the 33-yr-old, who is looking to defend his Diamond League title in Doha. “I have been training here for the past two weeks. Doha was the part of my final preparatory camp for the beginning of the season. The facilities at Aspire are great and so far so good. No injuries and come Friday, is my first competition of the season so I will look to open with 65-66 metres.
“If I manage to do that and don’t win here also, it is okay as the result is going to get better. From now on the preparations are only keeping in mind the Olympics,” said Kanter, whose throw of 68.82 metres proved enough for gold at Beijing.
Kanter, who will be competing in his third Olympics, feels if he could achieve the same distance in London he could complete a grand double.
“To win in London, I think a same result would do like in Beijing. A 68.50 to 69.50 metres or so should be enough. I have not been able to get that result so far in training as the focus till now has been on weights and stuff. But I’m not much worried about that as we will be having 10 weeks where we really slow down and prepare for it. Hopefully, I will peak and will be ready for London,” felt Kanter, who won a silver at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, behind Robert Hartings of Germany.
Apart from Harting, Kanter would be facing a stiff challenge at the Games from Piotr Malachowski of Poland, Iranian Ehsan Haddadi and Australian Benn Harradine, who just set the world leading mark for 2012 with a throw of 67.53 metres at the Townsville Student and Allcomers Games. “Yes, these guys are the ones to be wary of but I feel my main advantage against these athletes is my experience. I have been in the sport for 10 years and have seen the highs and lows. Mentally, I think I’m better prepared to handle situations. I’m sure I can transform all this into getting the desired result at the Games.”
Kanter also revealed that he has a different training programme for London and it has a lot to do with his age and body.
“The preparation from the last Olympics and this is different. I’m four years older and I have to do something differently and hope that the result will be same again. I’m 33 and no longer in the 20s and so my coach and I have to work out ways to get the same result from an older body. Your body keeps changing and so you have to adapt to new things but I’m pretty sure I can provide a repeat,” said Kanter, who threw more than 70 metres in four different rounds in Helsingborg, Sweden in 2006.
“Throwing over 70 metres is possible but it’s like a target something everyone wants to achieve. So far such a result has come only at World Championships at Helsinki in 2005 (Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania 70.17). It can be done but it will all depend on the conditions. Everything has to be good on that day. But I do believe it can be achieved,” said Kanter before signing off.