Gerd Kanter

Gerd Kanter

  2005 Summer Universiade, Izmir: discus gold (65.29m).

Estonia's Gerd Kanter reached the top of the tree as a discus thrower by earning world and Olympic titles – and the Universiade played a key part in the take-off of his long and illustrious career.

When this hugely popular figure arrived in Izmir, Turkey to take part in the 23rd version of the International University Sports Federation's flagship event, he was a highly promising 26-year-old who had appeared at the 2003 World Championships in Paris and the 2004 Athens Olympics, albeit without managing to reach the finals.

But 2005 proved to be his breakthrough year. On August 7, at the World Championships in Helsinki, Kanter took silver with an effort of 68.57 metres as Lithuania's Virgilijus Alekna made a successful defence of his title with a Championship record of 70.17m.

Just 10 days later in Turkey, the 6ft 5in athlete from Tallinn achieved his first global gold as he dominated the Universiade competition in the Izmir Ataturk Stadium.

Having nudged over the qualifying mark of 59.00m with a conservative effort of 59.52m, Kanter cut loose in the final, recording a best of 65.29m. His three other recorded marks were superior to the silver medal performance of 62.68m by Egypt's Amar Ahmed El Ghazaly.

Kanter finished the season on another big podium as he took silver in September's World Athletics Final in Monaco, recording 66.01m.

The following year, Kanter earned another silver at the World Athletics Final, his second of the year following a second place at the European Championships in Gothenburg, where he threw 68.03m to finish just 64 centimetres adrift of Alekna.

But when Kanter returned to Sweden the following month, to compete in Helsingborg, he produced the high mark of his career with an effort of 73.38m. It stood then, and as of July 2020 still stands, as the third best throw of all time behind Alekna's 2000 effort of 73.88m and the longstanding record of 74.08m set in 1986 by East Germany's Jurgen Schult.

The next two years marked the peak of his career as he won the World Athletics Finals with 68.47m and 66.54m respectively, and secured the twin peaks of world and Olympic titles.

At the 2007 World Championships in Osaka he finally got the better of Alekna, the 2003 and 2005 world champion, who finished fourth on this occasion. Kanter claimed gold with a best of 68.94m.

The following year Kanter took Olympic gold in Beijing, throwing 68.82m, with silver going to Poland's Piotr Malachowski on 67.82m and Alekna, the Olympic champion of 2000 and 2004, earning bronze with 67.79m.

At 29, Kanter had reached his peak – but his top-level career continued for another decade, during which time he earned Olympic bronze at the London 2012 Games, a world silver and two bronzes, as well as two European silvers and a bronze.

He placed fifth in the Rio 2016 Olympics aged 37, and signed off with another fifth place, this time at the 2018 Berlin European Championships, before announcing his retirement.

More than 3,000 people packed into the Kadriorg Stadium in Tallinn for his farewell competition. The 39-year-old signed off with a final 60m-plus effort, earning sixth place in a world class field.

Kanter, a model of consistency, holds the unofficial world record for the most consecutive competitions over 60 metres, an astonishing total of 319 between August 20, 2002 and September 10, 2017.

Gerd Kanter won Olympic, world and Universiade titles ©Getty Images
Gerd Kanter won Olympic, world and Universiade titles ©Getty Images