Keshorn Walcott’s name would have resonated with very few outside of Trinidad & Tobago prior to last Saturday’s javelin throw at the London Olympics.
Ranked 25th in the world going into the quadrennial Games, the 19-year-old stunned himself and everyone else with a historic 84.58 metres (277 ft. 6 ins.) hurl on his second throw to become the youngest Olympic champion in the event and the second twin-island republic athlete to win an Olympic gold medal since sprinter Hasley Crawford at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
Walcott, who started throwing the javelin just three years ago, admitted he was more than stunned with his historic feat.
“I am surprised by my performance,” said the world junior champion who is the first non-European to capture a medal in the event since American Cyrus Young secured gold six decades ago. “I can’t really believe what I have done.”
The gold medal is worth a fortune as Walcott found out after returning home last Monday to a hero’s welcome.
In welcoming him and the other T & T Olympians home, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that Walcott will receive a house in upscale Federation Park worth nearly Can$390,000, 20,000-square feet of land, a Housing Development Corporation project in his Toco hometown, a scholarship to attend the University of Trinidad & Tobago and approximately Can$155,000 in cash.
In addition, a Caribbean Airlines aircraft and the Toco Lighthouse will bear his name.
“Keshorn Walcott has made us immensely proud with every single citizen of our country rejoicing in his historic achievement,” said Persad-Bissessar. “Having competed against the world’s best athletes, Walcott has emerged as the very best in his event. This is the level of achievement our athletes can reach when they have the support of their families, their communities and their country.”
Walcott is the first athlete from the English-speaking Caribbean to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event. Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor (high jump), Ivan Pedrosa (long jump), Maria Colon and Osleidys Menendez (javelin), Maritza Marten (discus) and Yumileidi Cumba (shot put) are the only other regional athletes to win Olympic gold medals in field events.
T & T also captured bronze medals in the men’s 400-metre, 4 x100-metre and 4 x 400-metre relay events.
Persad-Bissessar said the bronze medallists will be recognized for their sterling accomplishments.
“We are proud of them and shall indeed honour their achievements in a manner befitting their discipline, sportsmanship and accomplishments,” she said.
Last Monday was declared a national holiday in T & T to mark the outstanding achievements of the country’s athletes.
The English-speaking Caribbean enjoyed remarkable success at the London Games, clinching 18 medals, including seven gold. Jamaica led the way with four gold, four silver and four bronze medals. Overall, Jamaica has won 67 medals – 17 gold – since making its Olympic debut in the 1948 Games.
Usain Bolt became the first athlete to clinch six sprint Olympic gold medals and the first to win the 100, 200 and 4 x 100-metre events back-to-back.
“We have ended the 2012 Games with our best medal tally ever and all Jamaica is truly proud of the team – every single member, for holding high the reputation of Jamaica in international sport,” said Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
Antigua’s Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, has suggested that Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) name one of its planes after 400-metre runner, Kirani James, who became the first Grenadian to win an Olympic gold medal. Antigua is a major LIAT shareholder.
The Bahamas secured its first Olympic gold medal in a male track and field event, upsetting the United States in the 4 x 400-metre relay.
“The magnificent quartet has done our nation proud,” said PM Perry Christie. “The entire race, from start to finish, was a model of discipline, precision teamwork, strategic planning and superlative execution.”
By RON FANFAIR