Akeem Stewart ready to take on the world

Trinidad and Tobago’s athlete targets gold in both the men’s discus and javelin throws at the IPC Athletics World Championships. 16 Oct 2015
Man in red jersey throwing a discus

Trinidad and Tobago's Akeem Stewart broke the men's discus F43 world record at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games

ⒸJon Blacker
By Hernan Goldzycher | for the IPC

“I want to become the first para-athlete to throw over 65 metres in the discus,” he said. “I think the competition will be awesome, remembered in the future and historical.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s Akeem Stewart burst onto the para-athletics scene when he smashed two world records on his way to double gold at this year’s Parapan American Games, catapulting his name in to the history books in both the men’s discus and javelin throws.

Now Stewart, who competes in the F43 class, will aim to follow up that success with two more gold medals at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar which take place between 21-31 October.

The 23-year-old makes his World Championship debut first in the men’s discus throw F44, where he will hope to add to his country’s medal haul and improve on his world record throw of 63.03m.

Eight days later on 30 October, Stewart competes in the men’s javelin throw F44, where he hopes to top the podium once again – despite being a relative newcomer to the event.

“I competed in the men’s javelin throw for the first time at the Parapan American Games, and I enjoyed it a lot,” said Stewart, who clinched gold in Toronto with a new F43 world record throw of 53.36m.

“I was a little bit nervous when walking to the throwing area as I knew I had not done it before. I had had only two weeks to get prepared for it, but decided to enter the competition because there was no shot put event.

“Anyway, I established a world record in my first attempt and understood that javelin is just like any other competition, even though I was a bit shocked at first.”

Two years ago at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships, Frenchman Tony Falelavaki took the top spot in the javelin F44 with a best throw of 54.39m, with Cape Verde’s Marcio Fernandes in second place and Iran’s Ali Omidi in third.

All three line up in Doha, with Falelavaki currently sitting top of the F44 world rankings this year having thrown 53.83m in Paris, France, back in June.

That mark is just 47 centimetres further than Stewart’s F43 record breaking throw two months ago. While Stewart knows that he will have to be at his best to clinch the world title, he is determined to tap in to the same mind set that proved so effective at Toronto 2015.

“In Canada my aim was to put on a great show for the crowd. And the gold medals meant a lot to me, especially because para-athletes are not given a fair chance to show their true capabilities in my country.

“These medals helped to bring awareness to Trinidad and Tobago as I had a lot of media attention and the public reaction was really good,” he said.

As for the discus throw, the Tobagonian faces yet another strong field – once again, all three medallists from the World Championships in 2013 will line up.

The USA’s defending world champion Jeremy Campbell, Great Britain’s world silver medallist Dan Greaves, and Solvakia’s world bronze medallist Adrian Matusik will all be hoping their experience pays dividends.

Stewart however remains focussed and confident as he prepares to take on the best in the world, on his biggest stage so far.

“I want to become the first para-athlete to throw over 65 metres in the discus,” he said. “I think the competition will be awesome, remembered in the future and historical.”

And while his exploits at the 2015 Parapan Games have undoubtedly brought him to the forefront of the sport, Stewart takes it all in his stride.

“I believe that if you find something you like or enjoy doing, you should keep trying hard and you will become the best one day,” he added.

You can’t argue with that.

Around 1,300 athletes from 100 countries will be in Doha, Qatar, for the IPC Athletics World Championships between 21-31 October. You can watch all the action live at the event website.