When Keshorn Walcott won the London Olympic javelin title in 2012, shocking the athletics world and himself, he was still a teenager.
Many observers in TT and abroad asked themselves, and whoever would listen, how did the country`s second Olympic gold medal arrive in this speciality of Finland, and not in a sprint race.
The simple answer lies with the champion himself: a quiet and humble but very determined individual.
Like most boys growing up in Toco, he walked to school from home, in Trois Roches, and he played cricket and football.
Then he discovered athletics, a sport in which two family members were exemplars: his aunt Anna-Lee Walcott was an all round athlete who in 2000 scored 5224 points in the heptathlon, and his brother Elton Walcott who in 2011 triple jumped 16.43m.
Under the guidance of John Andalcio, the teacher who had founded the Toco tafac (track and field athletics club) in the early part of the century, Keshie tried the triple jump initially (like elder brother Elton).
However, he soon converted to the javelin after some very encouraging trial throws.
2009 was his first season doing this event, using the 700g youth (under 17) implement, and he opened with 44.73 at the Secondary School Championships in March, and closed with 66.72 at the World Youth Championships in July for 13th in the qualifying round, one tantalising spot from a place in the final.
In between he had won titles at the Carifta Junior Games in St Lucia (59.30) and the national youth championships (61.76).
He ended that year by throwing the 800g senior javelin 60.07 at Hampton Games.
Since Keshorn was now a member of the national team he came under the wing and guidance of Israel Lopez Mastrapa, a former Cuban hammer thrower who had come to TT in 2004 to coach national athletes in the throwing events.
Walcott`s second year in the speciality (2010) brought further success as he made a smooth transition to the junior (U20) ranks with the heavier javelin.
He won his first CAC Junior crown in Dominican Republic with 67.01, his fifth PB of the year, after taking the Carifta Juniors (63.41) and the national junior title with 62.73m.
At the World Junior Championships his best effort of 66.05 did not qualify him for the final.
But in the triple jump he recorded his PB of 14.28 at Palo Seco Games in April.
In 2011 Keshorn took another step forward when he threw the javelin 72.04 to retain his Carifta Junior title and cross the 70 metre barrier in competition for the first time.
He improved this PB to 72.50 on winning the national junior championships.
In his first major international appearance at the senior level, Keshorn was fourth at the CAC Championships (70.98).
In October he closed the season with 75.77, his sixth PB of the year, to finish seventh at the Pan American Games in Mexico.
Olympic year 2012 saw Keshorn Walcott crash on to the world javelin scene: throwing the javelin over 80 metres, winning the world junior title and the Olympic Games gold medal, and ending the season unbeaten!
Behind these headline performances were victories at Carifta Juniors (77.59), CAC Junior Championships (82.83) and the national junior and senior championships.
He also broke the national javelin record of 78.06, set in 1996 by Kurt Thompson, with 78.94 in May and improving it one week later, to 80.11 at an international meeting in Cuba.
In early July he crossed the Atlantic to Spain, where he took the World Junior title with a last round effort of 78.64 which enabled him to grab the title from Braian Toledo of Argentina whose 77.09 had led the field since the second round.
Fortified by this win, Keshorn Walcott travelled to Wales, where the TT Olympic team was preparing for the Olympic Games, at which his primary goal was to qualify for the final.
This he managed at the Olympic Stadium with his last qualifying throw of 81.75 on 8 August.
Three days later in the final Keshie took the lead in the first round with 83.51, his fourth national record of the season.
He consolidated this with a second round throw of 84.58, a mark which no other thrower could match in subsequent rounds.
So Walcott won the title and TT`s second Olympic gold medal, with silver going to Oleksandr Pyatnytsya of Ukraine with 84.51, and bronze to Antti Ruuskanen of Finland with 84.12, the only other finalists throwing over 84 metres.
This result brought great disappointment to the entire Czech Republic and its hero Vitezslav Vesely, who actually recorded the year`s longest javelin throw of 88.34 at the London Olympics, but in the qualifying round which did not count for the medals!
For Walcott 2013 was a year to regain his feet after the heady successes of the previous one.
A vehicle accident and an ankle injury forced him to miss several important competitions between mid-June and early August.
Keshorn`s longest throw of the year (84.39) came in his opening meeting on 5 May, which turned out to be his only competitive appearance in Trinidad, while his season closed on 15 August in Moscow, where 78.78 did not qualify him for the World Championships final.
Yet, during a shortened season of seven competitions he exceeded 77 metres in each of them, even throwing the javelin over 82 metres in two events, as he had done in his magical Olympic year.
Walcott bounced back in 2014 winning a silver medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (82.67), and third place in the Continental Cup (83.52) in Marrakech.
He threw over 80 metres in seven of his ten competitions and also broke his national javelin record on two occasions.
The first was in the qualifying round of the Commonwealth Games, when for the first time he crossed the 85 metre barrier with 85.28 (further than the 83.87 which earned Kenya`s Julius Yego the gold medal), and the second at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich where he threw 85.77 on 28 August.
During 2015 Walcott broke the national record three times with 86.20 in Rome, 86.43 in Birmingham and 90.16 in Lausanne, this throw in early July making him the fourteenth member of the javelin 90metres club.
Although ankle problems forced him to deplane using a wheelchair, on arrival in Toronto, he recovered in time to take the Pan American Games gold medal with an 83.27 throw on 24 July. But just one month later in Beijing he only managed 76.83, and failed to qualify for the World Championships final.
Apart from this setback, Keshie had a good pre Olympic season exceeding 80 metres in his ten other competitions.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Walcott recorded his seasonal best (88.68) in the qualifying round, while in the final he won the bronze medal with 85.38, a metre more than his Olympic gold effort four years earlier.
As in previous years he competed in about a dozen events between May and August. In June he did 86.35 in Oslo and won the national title with 80.35, and in July he reached 83.60 in London, his last pre-Olympic competition.
After Rio he threw 82.40 in Paris and closed his season with a new goal for the next year, qualifying for his first World Championships javelin final, after two Olympic medals.
In 2017 Walcott was seventh in the London World Championships, after qualifying for his first ever final at these championships following unsuccessful attempts in 2013 and 2015. As usual he did not have a very extensive season.
Besides the Worlds he competed in five meeting in Finland plus Diamond League events in Rome (recording his seasonal best of 86.61), Montecarlo and Zurich. And, as he had done the previous year, he threw over 85 metres in three competitions.
Walcott's 2018 season lasted less than two months, yet he threw over 80 metres in five meetings of which he lost only two.
In June he competed in Finland twice before returning home to take the national title with 84.96, his year's best performance.
The following month he competed in Rabat, Sotteville and Sopot, before closing his season on 2 August with the gold medal (84.47) at the CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Prepared by Linley Bernard for the NAAATT © 2012 :: Updated 2017
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