It was his dream to compete on the world's biggest sporting stage and now that he has achieved it javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott should feel no pressure heading into today's final at the 2012 London Olympics in England. At the age of 19, many believe the Toco lad can write his name into the history books by becoming Trinidad and Tobago's first athlete to win an Olympic medal in the javelin event and one of those people expecting him to write history is his former coach, John "Slim" Andalcio.
So at 2.15 pm (T&T time), when he takes centre stage at the Olympic Stadium in London, he will be hoping for a repeat, this time against more accomplished and experienced throwers. Walcott left it late on Wednesday when he qualified for the final on his last throw with a distance of 81.75 metres in heat two, finishing in 10th place overall. He will go up against the likes of the Czech Vítezslav Vesely who qualified for the final with a throw of 88.34 metres and Norwegian Andreas Thorkildsen who has a personal best of 91.59 metres set in 2006.
From throwing bamboos and sticks on the beaches of Trois Roche, Toco where he grew up, Walcott is now a three-time winner in the Under-20 javelin throw at the CARIFTA Games, setting a new North, Central American and Caribbean Junior record earlier this year. He improved this record on May 27, with a throw of 80.11 metres in Havana, Cuba-a feat that Andalcio is confident that his former protege will exceed.
Tents have already been pitched and television sets are expected to be placed at several beaches in Toco for the village's Fishermen's Fete today. Walcott's parents, Beverly Walcott and Endy King have made plans to be among close family when the last child of their three children, makes the throw of his life.
"It was one of Keshorn's dreams to reach the Olympics from the time he made it on world youth team. He came back from that competition and said he wanted to be the best in the world," Andalcio said on Thursday. But with no proper facilities and interested sponsors, he has had to fight an uphill battle. And the question has been asked: What made Walcott so focused to be successful? Andalcio's simple answer was, "Keshorn's work ethic is amazing."
He has been coaching the sport for over 30 years and explained the journey which began when Walcott was 16 years old and was more inclined towards playing cricket rather than throwing the javelin. " At age 16, I recognised his potential. He was into cricket but we encouraged everyone to get into javelin. But it was amazing. The first time he tried, he threw over 50 metres and that was very good. From there, he loved the sport at that point," Andalcio said.
Despite the youngster coming up against the best in the world, the coach said that in javelin, anything can happen. He said Walcott has the ability to raise his standard on each occasion, going into the Games ranked at position 18 but is now the tenth best thrower in the world.
"He will just want to throw his personal best and that can propel him to a medal. He went into competition ranked 18th and he has risen to 10th and this has always been his ability, to raise standards at every competition. If you have noticed his progress over the years, he has been amazing. Definitely there is more to come," Andalcio predicted.