Appearing out of nowhere, as if, Gerd Kanter (37) needed just one good throw to place third at European Champs in Amsterdam with his season's best of 65.27. For him, this is the eleventh medal from title tournaments and in Estonia he thus towers alone.
At the late night party celebrating the medal, the man comes across as more satisfied than after many a weightier win in years past – realising he has just been able to prove he is still on form and show the doubters they are mistaken. Most importantly, what a boost before Rio!
-Gerd Kanter, you ran into this strange situation this year of no longer getting invited to Diamond League and other important events. Was that getting at your nerves some?
Sure. Some organisers have this attitude that we must make space for the youth... That hurts, with all the medals and experience. Like when you are fourth in the current chart yet not selected among the ten to compete... But it also makes one mad, in a sporty way, so one wants to prove, at the right events – you discarded me too soon.
-This season, you have not been seen too much, and at competitions haven’t thrown too well. In such a situation, how likely did you deem a medal here?
True, the season hasn’t been what I would like it to have been. These past six weeks, in just a couple of days I have felt very good in training. The first time was a day before I threw 65 metres at a [local] Audentes competition. The second occasion was just shortly before the European Championships when I threw 76 and a half. The last time I did that was in the year of the London Olympics.
-So that throw gave you the confidence for Amsterdam.
Yep! It’s not like I keep throwing 63 in training sessions and then up and 66 at competition. As a rule, what I can do in training I can do in competition. The adrenaline will not add metres
-Looking back, you have done this before – in lacklustre seasons, rising to the occasion. How do you do that?
Largely, this is experience. We have rehearsed such situations in simulation trainings – all things pertaining to qualifications and the competition. For instance Indrek (Tustit, the coach – edit) says that today in training you do three or four throws where you do not step over and get 64 metres. One must rehearse such stuff.
At competitions, we see a lot of talent but it is too naive if you do not shape and guide that talent. One must train for every situation. Like penalties in football – all good teams train these as it cannot be taken for granted, especially under pressure.
I believe in a nice atmosphere lots go guys are better than me. Like this guy who threw 66 metres at qualifications here and was best, but in the finals he was the last. He just hasn’t the experience.
-You’ve said one must throw 67 metres to get a medal in Rio. Are you on road towards that?
I do have the experience from four years ago, with two title tournaments the same year as well. For European champs, one must muster oneself for a while and ahead of London, for instance, this was a boost of sorts. Even that year the situation was not the best but during the European champs times I threw almost 70 metres. The event shook me up and afterwards I got real near to the gold.
Hope for the same this time around.
-In readiness for Rio, generally?
Broadly, yes. On July 27th we go to Brazil for preliminary training camp. That will be three and a half hours of flight from Rio de Janeiro. To the Olympic village we come right before the competition. The noise and carrying on isn’t good to concentrate for competition.
-With 11 title tournament medals, have you at any time tried them all on?
Nope. And the Olympic medals were at a museum for a long time, plus I hope to have more.
All told, it is the emotions that matter. Though an Olympic medal is special, still. As they publish the designs prior to games, one looks at these and thinks I’d like to have one at home.