Kanter and Iljustsenko named Estonia's athletes of the year | 05.12.2012
|Gerd Kanter and Anna Iljustsenko were named Estonian
athletes of the year. (Photo by Marko Mumm)
Discus thrower Kanter, 33, had an outstanding spell during the summer where he won silver at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, bronze at the Olympic Games in London, where he was defending his title, before securing the overall title for his event at the IAAF Diamond League.
In May, high jumper Iljustsenko, 27, suffered the death of her coach Martin Kutman, one of the key athletics figures in Estonia. He was 83.
But she battled on and beat Tia Hellebaut, the 2008 Olympic champion, in an event in her hometown of Sillamae, finished 13th in Helsinki and 20th in London.
At 6ft, 5ins, Kanter is one of Estonia's greatest athletes.
Four times he has made the podium at the World Championships, winning gold in Osaka in 2007, and he arrived in Helsinki having finished second in Gothenburg in 2006 and fourth in Barcelona in four years later.
This time he was determined to win his first European title and while ultimately he had to miss out, it proved to be a close and dramatic event.
Kanter produced a fine series of throws - 65.11m, 64.32m, 64.44m and 65.47m to go alongside his fifth round effort of 66.53m which proved key as it brought him silver as Hungary's Zoltan Kovago delivered a superb 66.42m with his final effort.
It was not enough from Kanter to beat Germany's Robert Harting who won gold with 68.30m and then went onto the lift the Olympic title.
In London, Kanter set the standard with the best throw in qualification of 66.39m ahead of Harting's 66.22m and the Estonian missed out on gold - and a successful defence of his title - by just 24 centimetres in a final where Ehsan Haddadi, of Iran, reached 68.18m in the first round to put down some marker.
It was the fifth round where the lead changed as Harting threw 68.27m and Kanter's season best of 68.03m brought him bronze.
But glory was to follow in the Diamond League where he had a season of brilliant consistency.
Winning in London with 64.85m, Lausanne with 65.79m and then in the final event in Brussels with 66.84m gave him the all-round prize.
The last athlete that Kutman took on was Iljuštšenko and her performance in the industrial city of Sillamae in North east Estonia in August was a tribute to what he brought out in her.
Iljustsenko is the national outdoors record-holder with 1.96m and overcoming a heel injury, she had broken the indoor record with a clearance of 1.93m indoors in Tallinn in February.
But in Sillamae, Iljustsenko produced an outdoor season's best of 1.92m to achieve an important win as Hellebaut could not respond with a best of 1.81m for sixth place.
Vesteinn Hafsteinsson, Iljustsenko's new trainer, and Kanter's former guru Vesteinn Hafsteinsson were honoured at the Estonian awards as they were named coaches of the year.
The best under-23 athlete was 400m hurdler Rasmus Mägi whose 49.54 for fifth in Helsinki was an Estonian record and high-jumper Eleriin Haas, who broke the under-23 national record with 1.92m and was third in the Diamond League in Brussels.