From throwing at mangoes to throwing for gold!
Grenadian javelin thrower Anderson Peters is only the second man from his country, after 400M runner Kirani James, to win a world title.
The Caribbean Island of Grenada is spread over an area of just 348.5sq km, approximately three per cent the size of Qatar! But javelin thrower Anderson Peters proved land size hardly mattered when it came to winning gold medals.
The 21-year-old, currently a student at the Mississippi State University in the United States, hurled the spear to 86.89M on the final day of the IAAF World Championships in Doha to stun the field and win the gold. It was his third crown of the season, following his wins at the NCAA Championships in June and the Pan-American Games in August.
The boy who threw stones aiming at the mangoes up above and got them down in Grenada has come a long way. He is only the second Grenadian, after 400M runner Kirani James (2011 Daegu), to win a world title. James added the Olympic title as well the next year.
“As a kid, I’ve always dreamt of being the world and Olympic champion at the same time, just like James. Now I’m the world champion, and next year there’s the Tokyo Olympics. Who knows? I’m going to give the double a try,” said Peters, confidently.
Peters used to train on a grassy field in Grenada, with no access to a track to do run-ups. But eventually it all proved beneficial.
“There’re hardly any facilities for throwing in Grenada, and I used to train on a grassy field. It was difficult. I had to run up and down every time to retrieve the javelin and throw again. But it helped develop my determination,” he told Inside Qatar.
The Grenadian picked up his first javelin aged 10 and soon set a new school record. But instead of pursuing the discipline seriously, he got fascinated by the charisma of a certain runner named Usain Bolt. And his dreams of sprinting like the tall Jamaican took off smoothly as he was selected as a member of Grenada’s Under-20 4X100M relay team, which finished fourth at the 2016 CARIFTA Games, an annual competition founded by the Caribbean Free Trade Association.
But the next year, he picked up some injuries which forced him to shift to javelin again.
“If it was up to me, I’d run like Bolt. That was always the dream. But following multiple injuries, I had to pick and choose. As it turned out, I got pretty strong at javelin. But I won’t take my success for granted because there’re many Grenadian kids coming up through the ranks. I’ll be wary of them,” said the youngster.
Peters had some special words of appreciation for his coach Paul Phillip, who is also a family friend.
“The gold means a lot to me and my coach because we’ve been working hard on it for more than 10 years. We tried to get involved with some people (for better training), but they didn’t believe in us. So this gold is my perfect answer to them,” he said.
What does Peters do when he goes back home for vacations and is not throwing a metal spike around? He plays cricket, lots and lots of cricket.
“Cricket is my second favourite sport, after track and field, and I’m an all-rounder. I love Twenty20 games, like the Caribbean Premier League, but one-day cricket is too long for me,” he said.
“Since cricket isn’t so popular in the USA, I play as many games as I can when I’m home. I compete in major leagues, championship leagues, club leagues and even community tournaments. I try to be in the game as much as I can,” he said.
Now that he is a world champion, what secret wish does he harbour?
“In Grenada, Kirani James has a stadium named after him. Maybe in a few years, I’ll have one of my own as well,” he said with a big laugh.