Tori Peeters aiming for Olympic javelin debut in Tokyo
Southlander Tori Peeters would love nothing more than to put New Zealand women’s javelin on the map by qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games.
Peeters has been the frontrunner in the discipline at national level for some time now, setting a New Zealand open women’s record while still at under 20 level and already owning four national open titles at the age of 25.
With female throwers generally not peaking until they hit their 30s, the Academy Southland graduate has time and a determined approach on her side.
“For me, that’s where I want to debut on the world stage and be in the mix with the best female throwers in the world,” Peeters said.
“That’s where I want to kick things off and then progress on the world stage. It would be great to have a New Zealand javelin thrower in the mix, because it’s quite a European-dominated event.”
Peeters currently has a personal best of 57m. The A qualifying standard for Tokyo is an eye-watering 64m, but a more likely route to Japan for Peeters will be qualifying inside the top 40 throwers in the world, because each country is only allowed to send a maximum of three athletes for the javelin.
“Realistically, I need to throw around 60m and win some competitions that have Olympic qualifying points. That’s my goal and that’s what we are targeting to do for the season.”
Having competed at two world university games, in 2015 and 2017, and finished third behind two Commonwealth Games medallists at the Australian championships earlier this year, Peeters’ career is building nicely.
While some might be daunted by the challenge, Peeters can only see the potential metres she can eat up as her technique becomes more refined and her power develops.
She first picked up a javelin in PE class at St Peters College in Gore, going on to break a clutch of school records and attracting the attention of local coach Murray Speden.
From there it was onto studying in Dunedin, before a shift to Cambridge in April where she is kept very busy as a teacher aide, voluntary athletics coach and rugby administrator at St Peter’s School.
Sister Stacey was also a talented alrounder, although she has chosen to focus on netball, playing for the Southern Steel and Canterbury Tactix, as well as playing professionally in Wales.
Tori said her own decision to go with athletics instead of netball had been a difficult one.
“I played quite a bit of netball, I really followed in my sister’s footsteps, because she also threw the javelin.
“I loved being in a team environment, but it was a decision I knew I had to make if I wanted to take it to the next level and try and be a professional athlete. I was in my second year at uni and I decided I’d quit netball if I made the world uni games team, and sure enough I qualified, so out the door went netball and javelin was very much the focus from then on.”
Peeters now trains in Cambridge alongside New Zealand’s top ranked male thrower, Ben Langton Burnell, under the guidance of Athletics New Zealand’s high performance throws coach Debbie Strange.
And while she has moved on from her early days competing in Southland, through to the Taieri club and now the Hamilton Hawks, Peeters remains very much a Southland girl at heart.
“I’ve had the best support from the Southland community, and I still do. I still get so many people contacting me asking how things are going up here. It’s great to have that ongoing support from the MLT, even though my passion has taken me to the Waikato. I don’t think I’d still be doing javelin if it weren’t for the MLT, because athletics is such a hard sport to do if you don’t have financial support. I’ll always call Southland home.”
Mataura Licensing Trust chief executive Mark Paterson said the community funder had been proud to support Peeters throughout her career.
“We will continue to support her right up to her main target - the Tokyo Olympics. Tori epitomises everything good about a local girl who has excelled at national and international level in her chosen sport. She hasn’t forgotten her roots; she loves Gore, she loves Southland and keeps us informed about her training, her schedule and her goals and ambitions.”
Peeters also credits her time in the Academy Southland programme as a foundation for her success
“Thinking about it now, I couldn’t be more grateful for having gone through that programme. It just opens your eyes up so much to life as a professional athlete and what that requires.
“Knowing a lot of that early, it’s just made me a more well-rounded athlete earlier in my career. I see a lot of top young athletes at the school where I work and they don’t have that knowledge that I had at that age.”