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Sky’s the limit for Keshorn

Kwame Laurence

Sky’s the limit for Keshorn

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The man responsible for shaping Keshorn Walcott into an Olympic gold medallist, Cuban throws coach Ismael Lopez, says there is no limit to the heights the talented teenager can attain.
“His best quality is dedication, so we can achieve anything,” he said.
“Wow. I feel very happy. I’m very proud of Keshorn. I don’t have words to describe.”
Walcott became only the second Trinidad and Tobago athlete to strike gold, when he won the men’s javelin with an 84.58 metres throw, at the Olympic Stadium in London, England last Saturday.
His winning throw was a 1.75-metre improvement on his pre-Olympic personal best – 82.83m.
The 84.58m effort is a new Pan American Junior (Under-20) and national senior record. It lifted Walcott into second spot on the all-time global Under-20 list, behind Latvia’s Zigismunds Sirmais, the World Junior record holder at 84.69m.
Lopez said he was not surprised by Walcott’s performance.
“For me, I expected the Junior World record. We were working at making his first throw relaxed. If the first throw is good, it makes things easier.”
As planned, Walcott was relaxed for his first round effort, throwing the javelin 83.51m. In round two, he improved to 84.58m – the throw that earned Trinidad and Tobago its first taste of Olympic gold since Hasely Crawford’s men’s 100 metres triumph in 1976.
Dexter Voisin, Trinidad’s track and field manager, said that Walcott’s triumph could not have been anticipated.
“It was a surprise to anybody. I sat among European coaches, and saw amazement in their faces.
“This shows that once you put your mind to something and stick to the game plan, you can achieve anything.
“Keshorn is a very disciplined guy, takes training very seriously, listens to his coach, and has a strong mind. He’s the ideal athlete.”
The team’s chef de mission, Annette Knott also praised the 19-year-old Toco thrower.
“Quiet confidence. He works hard, without any fuss.”
Walcott has had an arduous but highly rewarding season, striking gold at the CARIFTA Games, the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships, World Junior Championships, and now the Olympic Games.
Lopez said his athlete will now get a well-deserved rest, before starting preparations for the 2013 season.
“We have to take care of him. Keshorn was invited to two meets in Europe, but he’ll go home. For him, the season is finished.”
Walcott’s main focus in 2013 will be the World Championships, in Moscow, Russia. Hitting the 90-metre mark is also among the thrower’s goals for next season.
Lopez said he was looking forward to the continued support of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT).
“I’m grateful for the camp in Cuba in April and May that they paid for. It made a big difference in Keshorn’s preparations.”
He said the pre-Olympic camp in Cardiff, Wales was beneficial as well.
“It had all the facilities, everything, and played a key part in Keshorn’s performance.”
While Walcott has a rare gift for hurling the spear, Lopez was convinced there are other potential Olympic champions in Trinidad and Tobago waiting to be discovered.
“There are more like him, but something needs to be in place to develop field events. We need facilities.
“The throwers and jumpers cannot always train at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Because of football games, the field is not always available. A field events facility is needed.”
Lopez said throwing talent abounded in both Toco and Tobago.
“You have to look long term. Start at 12/13. At that age, you have the time to teach different skills for throws. At age 15/16, the athletes can specialize in a particular throw.”
If Lopez has his way, the Walcott win – arguably the biggest surprise of the Olympics – will not be a one-off occurrence never to be repeated, but rather, the first of many global field successes for a nation that has built its Olympics reputation on the track.
• Kwame Laurence covered the 2012 London Olympics for the Trinidad Express.