Richard Peter is going out on top. Peter, who turned 40 on Sept. 10, has reaffirmed his intentions to stop playing on the international wheelchair basketball scene. Peter’s proclamation to retire comes on the heels of him winning yet another Paralympic medal. He was a member of the Canadian squad that captured the gold medal at this year’s Paralympics in London, England.
Canada defeated Australia 64-58 in the championship match held on Sept. 8.
Peter, who lives in Vancouver and is a member of the Cowichan Tribes in British Columbia, has been a member of the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball squad since 1994.
Winning another Paralympic gold medal was a perfect ending for Peter’s lengthy career.
“It definitely worked out according to plan,” he said of his final international tournament.
Peter now has four Paralympic medals. He also helped Canada win the gold at the 2000 and 2004 games held in Australia and Greece, respectively. And he was a member of the silver-medal winning side at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
During his career Peter also won four medals – one gold, three bronze – at world championships. Peter said nagging injuries were telling him the time is right to leave the sport now.
“I am retired,” he said. “I’m letting the body let me know.”
That’s even though teammates and members of the Canadian coaching staff have suggested to him prior to the Paralympics that he is still more than capable of playing at a high level. But he said his retirement plans were not really a topic of conversation in London.
“We didn’t really talk about it at all,” he said. Now that he has returned home Peter said he’s going to have to get ready for the next chapter of his life. “I guess I’m going to have to go out and get a job,” he said.
Besides suiting up for the Canadian team the past 18 years, Peter had also played professionally overseas in recent years. He played two seasons, 2008 to 2010 in Germany. And he spent the 2010-11 year with a club in Italy.
But he won’t be anywhere near a court in the coming season, even though many have suggested to him that he should give coaching a shot. And he said he won’t be playing the sport even recreationally.
“I’m going to take all of the next year off from basketball,” he said. “There will be no playing and no coaching. But who knows what will happen after that.”
In London, the Canadians went through the 12-nation tournament undefeated. In round-robin action Canada registered victories over Colombia, Germany, Japan, Poland and host Great Britain.
Canada then kicked off its playoff action with a 77-51 triumph over Spain in a quarter-final match. It then earned a berth in the gold-medal contest by defeating Great Britain 69-52 in its semi-final.
Peter was not surprised to see his squad come out on top.
“We had been playing really well throughout the year,” he said. “And we had beaten some of the top teams.”
As for winning all of their matches?
“I think that’s what we expected,” Peter said. “Great Britain was really strong. And we knew the Australians would be strong. That was our plan though – to go in and take care of everybody.”
Peter said his team’s busy schedule in London prevented him from seeing too many other sports at the games.
“We were busy with our team,” he said. “We had a game almost every day. But we watched a bit of the (Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball) games when we could.”
Peter’s wife Marni was also at the Paralympics. She’s an assistant coach with the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball squad, which placed sixth in its tournament.