Peter Millman’s track career began with him trying to run over hurdles as fast as he could. Today, Millman could just hurl them out of the way and waltz down the track – he’s clearly found his niche.
“I thought I was going to be a hurdler in Grades 6 through 8 and honestly, was really bad, and it was sort of embarrassing for my dad,” laughs Millman, whose father Paul coached track at the provincial and national level. “So I started throwing the discus in Grade 8, won provincials my second year and that’s basically where my throwing career began.”
Ready to embark on his second year of studies at the University of Lethbridge, Millman is already a known commodity on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport track and field scene. That will happen when you win gold and silver medals in your first Canada West Championship meet and are named Canada West Rookie of the Year – and that was just the beginning.
Millman, 19, spent the summer racking up personal best throws and more accolades as he claimed three medals at the Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships. The Truro, N.S. product won gold in the shot put and silver in each of the discus and hammer throw events. He was then named to Canada’s Pan American Junior Championship team and competed in Medellin, Colombia at the end of August, qualifying for the finals of the hammer throw event and improving his Pan Am ranking from 10th to seventh position.
“Coming here and focusing on throwing and training with Larry Steinke, I believe opens everything up for me,” says Millman, who eyes world championship and Olympic appearances in his future. “I had opportunities to go to the United States but to me, it looked like an athlete factory down there and with Larry, it’s one-on-one focussed training designed to get you to the next level.”
The U of L didn’t have to spend a lot of time recruiting Millman, he was essentially in the family from the time he took his first training trip to Lethbridge in his Grade 10 year.
“I tried to convince my parents to let me move out here in Grade 10 and just start training with Larry but that wasn’t going to happen,” he says. “I had chosen the U of L by Grade 10, it was always where I was coming.”
The draw of course is head coach Steinke, leader of the national throws program and the mentor to Olympians Jim and Heather Steacy. He’s been mining talent from Truro for years, having previously brought Kate Forbes and Jonathan Doucette (now the coach at Dalhousie University) to the University. Along with Millman came Kayla Gallagher (last year’s CIS gold medallist in weight throw) and Montana Forsyth. In the fall, Millman says his dad will bring another high school group to Lethbridge for a week of training, possibly laying the foundation for future throwing prospects attending the U of L.
“The thing about Larry is that his programs are so individually based and he’s so knowledgeable about track, even outside of throws events, he knows the sport so well,” says Millman. “He understands what you need in terms of lifting, really everything within your training, he sets it up. Everybody has their own program focused on what they individually need to develop.”
Millman has changed his academic focus this fall, moving away from international management and focusing on history. He admittedly struggled last year and looks to return to the strong classroom performances he put in while in high school.
“I wasn’t going to force myself to study something I didn’t really want to do,” he says of the management vein he tried to follow in the shadow of father’s career (he runs an international student recruitment program in Nova Scotia). “I want to take something where my interests lie and I’ve done that this year. I really like the courses I’m in this semester so I hope things go a lot better.”
His competitive goals are enhanced this year as he looks to build off his rookie success as well as the summer experience he gained internationally.
“Hopefully, I want to medal this year at the CIS Championships. I had such a great outdoor season with the shot, I hope it transfers to the indoor season,” he says. “After that, theoretically the NACAC Under-23 (North America Central America and Caribbean) Games are a possibility. I’m still pretty young and would have another shot at it in two years but it’d be great to make that team.”
GET THE FACTS
• Millman says he still has an autograph from former Pronghorn thrower and Olympian Jim Steacy on his bedroom wall back home in Truro from his initial visit to Lethbridge in Grade 10
• Millman competes in each of the discus, hammer/weight and shot put events but says, “I’m starting to think that maybe I have more potential in the shot put.”
• Millman has a younger sister in Grade 12 who he describes as a “genius”. She also throws hammer and is looking at attending an Ivy League school in the eastern United States
• Millman placed fifth in shot at the Pan American Junior Athletic Championships, while Horns teammate Kayla Gallagher won bronze for Canada in the hammer throw