Gerd Kanter of Estonia celebrates winning the Men's Discus Throw Final (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 28 August 2007 – Osaka, Japan

Osaka 2007 - Men's Discus Throw: After World title, World record is next on Kanter’s list

Osaka, JapanHardly could the Discus Throw final have produced more surprises: First of all, the name of the new World champion in the discus is not Virgilijus Alekna.

Instead it was Estonia’s Gerd Kanter who crowned his career by taking the gold with a throw of 68.94m. It was only the second time in his career that Kanter beat the Lithuanian, who in the end did not even medal in the final.

“When I woke up this morning I was thinking about the gold medal,” Kanter said. “There will be a big party tonight.”

Expresses respect and admiration for the man he succeeded

But the 28-year-old Kanter also paid respect where respect was clearly due. “In my eyes Virgilijus Alekna is the best discus thrower ever,” he said. “So it is a great feeling to have
finally beaten the number one. I had struggled to do so in recent championships.” Kanter won silver medals at the European Championships one year ago and at the World Championships in 2005. In Helsinki it had been very close, with Kanter in the lead until the final round. But there, Alekna responded with a massive throw of 70.17m to snatch the gold from the Estonian who reached 68.57m. “But it was not a shame to have lost against Virgilijus again and again because he was the best and he inspired me a lot in recent years.”

Kanter had beaten the two-time World and twice Olympic champion only once.

“That was back in 2003 and it was a minor meeting,” Kanter, who has studied business management, recalled. “I had an advantage of just about 20 centimetres. But the new World champion, who weighs 120 kilos and stands 1.98m tall, added, “I have never been frustrated afterwards, when he beat me again and again in more than 30 competitions. That is because of his outstanding position.” In fact the two have met 46 times in competition, so the score is still a lopsided 44 to 2.

But still, Kanter’s win was most probably not the end of the Alekna era, since there is a simple explanation why the defending champion ended up in fourth place without a medal after not having lost in 37 consecutive competitions.

“Eight days ago I injured my calf muscle and I was not able to train for six days,” Alekna said. “It became almost impossible to win, but I hoped to have a small chance for a medal. But my season is not finished, I will do some Grand Prix Meetings.” His last defeat came on August 16, 2005, more than two years ago. And it was much longer since he did not take gold at a major championship, the 2001 World championships in Edmonton, where he finished second.

Respect for podium-mates as well

“I knew that I was in good form. But whenever that is the case I still have to be careful since I tend to put too much into my throws and then can’t control my technique,” said Kanter, who felt happy with the two other athletes who joined him on the podium. “I very much admire Rutger Smith,” he said, because the Dutch bronze medallist became the first athlete in World championships history to win a medal in the Shot Put (2005 in Helsinki) and now in the Discus Throw. Concerning Robert Harting’s surprise silver medal, Kanter said, “It is great that the Germans are back on the podium with a new face since they have had such great success. It is very good for our event if we have athletes from many different nations comepeting for the medals.”

“I was never sure that I would have won gold,” Kanter continued. “Because I thought that I would have had to throw further. And with Virgilijus in there you never know until the very end what happens.”

Having won his first gold, Kanter has set his next big goal already.

“Now it is my aim to break the World record. I will go for this mark on the15th of September in Helsingborg.” It was there where he established his personal best of 73.38 m last year, which puts him in third position on the all-time list behind Germany’s World record holder Jürgen Schult (74.08) and Alekna (73.88). There is more to come from Gerd Kanter.

“At 28, I am still young for this event.”

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF