Keshorn Walcott

Athlete Profile

  • COUNTRY
    Trinidad And Tobago Trinidad And Tobago
  • DATE OF BIRTH
    02 APR 1993
Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad & Tobago celebrates after winning the men's Javelin final at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
Javelin Throw 90.16 Lausanne (Pontaise) 09 JUL 2015
Javelin Throw (700g) 66.72 Bressanone 11 JUL 2009

Progression - Outdoor

Javelin Throw

Performance Place Date
2017 86.61 Roma (Stadio Olimpico) 08 JUN
2016 88.68 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 17 AUG
2015 90.16 Lausanne (Pontaise) 09 JUL
2014 85.77 Zürich (Letzigrund) 28 AUG
2013 84.39 Port of Spain 03 MAY
2012 84.58 London (Olympic Stadium) 11 AUG
2011 75.77 Guadalajara, MEX 28 OCT
2010 67.01 Santo Domingo 03 JUL

Javelin Throw (700g)

Performance Place Date
2009 66.72 Bressanone 11 JUL

Honours - Javelin Throw

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Championships London 2017 7 84.48 London (Olympic Stadium) 12 AUG 2017
The XXXI Olympic Games 3 85.38 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 20 AUG 2016
15th IAAF World Championships 13q1 76.83 Beijing (National Stadium) 24 AUG 2015
2nd IAAF Continental Cup 2014 3 83.52 Marrakech (Le Grande Stade) 14 SEP 2014
14th IAAF World Championships 10q1 78.78 Moskva (Luzhniki) 15 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 1 84.58 London (Olympic Stadium) 11 AUG 2012
14th IAAF World Junior Championships 1 78.64 Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico) 13 JUL 2012
13th IAAF World Junior Championships 9q2 66.05 Moncton (Moncton Stadium) 22 JUL 2010

Honours - Javelin Throw (700g)

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
6th IAAF World Youth Championships 8q2 66.72 Bressanone 11 JUL 2009

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Updated 9 August 2017

 

Keshorn WALCOTT, Trinidad and Tobago (Javelin Throw)

Born: 2 April 1993, Toco, Trinidad

Lives: Valsayn, Trinidad

1.90m/90kg

Coach: Ismael Lopez Mastrapa

Manager: Sean Roach

 

The first time Keshorn Walcott threw a javelin, he knew he was on to something.

 

“Back in 2009, my cousin (Jamel Paul) and some other guys used to be throwing the javelin. One evening I went out and attempted it, and that was basically it.  The first throw I took was further than what they were throwing, and they were training.”

 

Coach at the Toco Secondary school, John Andalcio encouraged 15-year-old Walcott to take the event seriously.“I saw I had a little promise in the javelin and stuck with it.”

 

Talk about an understatement! Just a few months after that fateful first throw, Walcott was in St Lucia, representing Trinidad and Tobago at the Carifta Games - the regional junior track and field championships.

 

About a week after his 16th birthday, he celebrated with Carifta gold in the boys’ under-17 javelin, his 59.30 metres throw landing just eight centimetres short of the meet record.

 

Walcott’s first encounter with Cuban coach Ismael Lopez Mastrapa came at the 2009 Carifta meet. “He was the (Trinidad and Tobago) coach for throws. He came up to me and told me he wanted to work together. I didn’t have any coach at the time so I said it was okay.”

 

The logistics, though, proved challenging, since Walcott lived in the rural village of Trois Roches, Toco, some 40 miles from the capital city. “It was a bit difficult, knowing he (Mastrapa) was in Port-of-Spain and I was in Toco. But we still attempted it. I trained on my own. He sent the programmes via email or called on the phone, and I would just do what I had to do.”

 

Under the guidance of Mastrapa, the young thrower made great strides. In fact, when asked who the people mainly responsible for his success are, Walcott thought long and hard but could come up with just one name: “Ismael”.

 

“Without him, I think I would be still struggling to get good distances. Since I’ve been working with him I have been making a lot of progress. Most field athletes are a bit lost in terms of how they are technically. Coming out from Cuba and knowing that everything for them is technique really helped me. Without him, I wouldn’t have a technique.”

 

At Carifta 2010, in the Cayman Islands, Walcott triumphed in the under-20 age-group. He also struck gold at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships, in the Dominican Republic.

 

At the 2011 Carifta Games, in Jamaica, Walcott defended his title with a championship record throw of 72.04m. And late in the year, he produced a big PR (personal record) at the Pan American Games, in Mexico, his 75.77m effort earning the junior seventh spot in a quality field of seniors.

 

Up to December, 2011, Walcott was a student at the Toco Secondary School. However, ahead of the 2012 season, he decided to leave school, and focus fully on his track and field ambitions. In a joint leap of faith, Walcott and his elder brother, Elton, a four-time Carifta Games triple jump champion, left their Toco home.

“My brother was already out of school. We had to make a decision to come into Port-of-Spain to train. It wasn’t making any sense staying in Toco anymore because we reached a point where we realised we could only do so much on our own. That’s when we met Sean.”

 

Seeing the potential of the Walcott brothers, Sean Roach decided to manage their careers. And going beyond the call of duty, the founder and CEO of TNT Elite Sports took Keshorn and Elton into his home, situated about five miles from Port-of-Spain. “The opportunity came where we could come into Port-of-Spain to train. I could train with Ismael, my brother could get some additional work with some other coaches. So, we sat down, talked about it, and we decided to move. I was just going with the flow in school, so I needed to take a risk. I came out, and the risk worked.”

 

In his final season as a junior athlete, Walcott won his fourth Carifta title on the trot, grabbing gold at the 2012 Games, in Bermuda. A record throw of 77.59m earned him the distinction of competing unbeaten throughout his Carifta career.

 

At the Quantum Classic, in Trinidad and Tobago, Walcott produced a big 78.94m effort – a new national open record, and a North America, Central America and Caribbean (NACAC) junior standard as well.

 

Walcott reset those records, and also added the Pan American junior record to his list of achievements with a winning 80.11m hurl at the IAAF centennial anniversary meet, in Cuba.

In El Salvador, the Toco teen retained his CAC Juniors title with a Championship record throw of 82.83m.

 

At the World Junior Championships, in Spain, Walcott made history, becoming the first-ever global throwing champion from Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Then, it was off to the Olympics – an opportunity to perform on the biggest sporting stage at the tender age of 19. It was an occasion to cherish, Walcott getting to share that stage with his throwing idol, Norway’s two-time Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen.

“I always looked up to him, knowing that he was the best. His technique was smooth.”

Walcott threw 81.75m in the qualifying competition, earning the right to compete against Thorkildsen in the Olympic final.

 

But he did more than just compete.

 

It is now history that on Saturday, 11 August, Keshorn Walcott produced one of the biggest shocks at the London Games, throwing 84.58m to grab gold. “I always tell myself I’m going to win an Olympic gold medal, but I wasn’t telling myself I was going to win in 2012. When I made the Olympics, my first thing was just for experience. Me and my brother always had a plan that 2016 is going to be our year, so winning the gold in 2012 was a bonus.”

 

With his big second round hurl, Walcott joined an elite club. Thirty-six years after Hasely Crawford crossed the line first in the men’s 100 metres final, at the Montreal Games, Walcott became only the second Trinidad and Tobago athlete to secure Olympic gold. “I don’t like that, when you say elite club. It makes it sound like it’s going to be a small group of gold medallists, ever. I would like that to change. What I went through coming back home from the Olympics…when we come back home, it should be normal. There shouldn’t be all that just for one gold medal. Once we get more, the country will be more accustomed. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be an elite group, it will be a large group.”

 

13 August was declared a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago to mark Walcott’s historic achievement. A massive crowd turned up at Piarco International Airport on that day to greet Walcott, on his return from London. “I wasn’t expecting so many people. Trinidadians got a holiday, so they were grateful and came out to support. That was good, but it was a bit overwhelming.”

 

The Government showered Walcott with gifts – TT$1,000,000 (US$166,000), 20,000 square feet of land, a TT$2,500,000 (US$416,000) house, a University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) scholarship. Also, it was announced that a new Caribbean Airlines aircraft as well as a housing development in Toco will carry his name, and that the Toco Lighthouse would be called “Keshorn Walcott Lighthouse”.

 

Another highlight of the airport welcome was Walcott’s presentation of a bouquet of flowers to his mother, Beverly Walcott.

 

It was not just any bouquet. Ahead of the Olympic final, Beverly asked Keshorn for one of the three bouquets that would be presented to the men’s javelin medallists.

 

What mummy wants, mummy gets, the Olympic champion delivering the flowers at the welcome home celebration.

 

Then came the motorcade to Toco. Though Toco is about 30 miles from Piarco, the going was slow as many lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the first person to win an individual Olympic title and a world junior title in the same year. “They made a lot of stops going up. In Sangre Grande, that crowd was huge. It took 10 hours to reach Toco. That was like coming from London - the longest we ever took. We reached after one a.m. The amount of people that were in Toco, that was surprising. People who had never been to Toco before went up to Toco that day. That was great.”

 

There were more motorcades to come, as Trinidad and Tobago continued to celebrate. The schedule was a hectic one, forcing Walcott to make a Port-of-Spain hotel room his home for a month. “That was a bit rough,” says the youngest-ever Olympic javelin champion. “But going all over the country, places I had never been, places I never heard of, was good. At times it was a bit tiring, but at times it was good. The people were so happy just to see a single person like me…sometimes it put a smile on my face.”

 

With his August 2012 triumph, Walcott became only the second athlete from the western hemisphere to win an Olympic men’s javelin title.

 

Also of great significance is the fact that Walcott is the very first black male thrower to strike gold in the history of the Modern Olympics.

 

In 116 years, between 1896 and 2012, a total of 116 male Olympic champions have been crowned in the shot put, discus, hammer throw and javelin, as well as in some discontinued events. The only black on that long list is Keshorn Walcott. “Hopefully, it’s the start of something. It’s a change, and hopefully it will change for the better. More people will be confident in themselves, knowing that they’re black, going up against the Europeans, known as the powerhouses of throwing. When you go out there, you could represent, you know that you are able to compete amongst the best, and win. I took that from it. I wasn’t that confident in myself. Now, I have it in my mind that I could go out and compete amongst the best.”

 

But he does not want young, black throwers to try to become the next Keshorn Walcott. “I wouldn’t say you can be a Keshorn. You can be yourself. You can be better.”

 

In November 2012, at the IAAF centenary celebrations in Barcelona, Spain, Walcott was presented with the 2012 male rising star award by three-time Olympic men’s javelin champion Jan Železný.

“Everybody knows him. It was a great pleasure getting to meet him at the Olympics. He told my coach, keep doing what I’m doing, and we’re going to see great progression.”

 

But while Walcott has the deepest respect for the Czech, he does not want to be the next Železný.

“I want to be Keshorn. Once I do anything, I don’t want anybody to tell me I’m the next somebody. I’m the next me, so hopefully, if I surpass what he did, I’m going to be known as Keshorn, not the next Železný.”

 

Železný is the World record holder with a monster throw of 98.48m. “It’s a long-term goal,” says Walcott. “I’m more concentrating on the Olympic record. That’s a little closer to me than the World record right now.”

 

Thorkildsen is the Olympic record holder, the Norwegian establishing his 90.57m standard at the 2008 Games, in Beijing, China. “Once things work as they’ve been working, hopefully we’ll get up there.”

 

With Walcott’s admirable work ethic, there’s no limit to what he can achieve.

“My home, where I used to live (in Toco), it wasn’t that much…small home, we didn’t have much. Whatever I got into I really had to work hard because you had to make something out of it, so it could support my family in the long run. So, just getting into sports, knowing that failure wasn’t an option, you just keep pushing. I still have a lot more to go.”

 

A single-minded devotion to mastering his craft, combined with the expert input of his Cuban coach has resulted in Olympic gold, making Walcott an instant celebrity in Trinidad and Tobago.

“I feel a little bit overwhelmed at times. When you walk outside, everybody’s watching you. Everybody wants to take a picture. Every five minutes, you’re walking, and they stop you. It wasn’t expected, so I didn’t have time to prepare. There wasn’t a lead-up, so I just had to start coping from day one.

 

“Since I came back, I think I have been coping pretty well. Things have calmed down a lot, so hopefully things will get a little more calm and go back to how it was a little more. I had a little coaching to deal with interviews, and a little public speaking. But for me, I just sleep through the day and go to training. I hardly see people.”

 

Walcott’s 2013 campaign didn’t go according to plan.

 

The Olympic champion opened the season with an impressive 84.39m throw at the TnT Elite Twilight Games, the big effort earning him gold in front of his home fans at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.

 

An ankle injury, however, prevented Walcott from building on his impressive opener. In four subsequent meets, he fell short of 80 metres. His coach and manager then withdrew him from competition for seven weeks, in order to focus on rehabilitation.

 

Walcott tested the ankle at a meet in Kuortane, Finland. He managed fifth spot with an 82.24m throw, an encouraging performance ahead of the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

 

At the Championships, however, Walcott could only manage a 78.78m effort, and finished 18th.

The 2014 season was far more fruitful for Walcott. He had just two 80-plus competitions in 2013. In 2014, he bettered 80 metres at seven meets.

 

At the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, Scotland, Walcott threw 85.28m in the qualifying competition to improve on the 84.58m Trinidad and Tobago record he had established in the 2012 Olympic final. He went on to claim Commonwealth silver, hurling the spear 82.67m in the final.

 

At the Weltklasse IAAF Diamond League finals in Zurich, Switzerland, Walcott improved on his new national standard, his big 85.77m throw earning him the runner-up spot.

 

And at the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup, in Marrakech, Morocco, Walcott produced an 83.52m effort to bag bronze.

 

The 2014 season was certainly an improvement on 2013. And then, in 2015, Walcott made it absolutely clear to anyone who doubted his credentials that he is destined to be counted among the greats in the event.

 

Three times, Walcott improved on his national record, throwing 86.20m in Rome, Italy, 86.43m in Birmingham, England, and then a huge 90.16m at the Athletissima IAAF Diamond League meet, in Lausanne, Switzerland.

 

The 90.16m throw was also a CAC record, and it placed Walcott 14th on the all-time world performance list. Last year, German Thomas Röhler landed the spear 91.28m to nudge Walcott down to 15th. And this year, the T&T thrower slipped another notch, to 16th, courtesy another German, Johannes Vetter jumping to second on the all-time list with his massive 94.44m effort. Also in 2017, Röhler has improved his PR (personal record) to 93.90m.

 

“Throwing further than 90 metres,” says Walcott,” is always my goal. Now that I’ve thrown 90 metres, hopefully I can build on it, hopefully throw further. I know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to continue working hard, and hopefully in the future we can get better distances.”

Walcott was unable to bask in the glory of becoming only the 14th man in history to join the 90-metre club, an injury to his left ankle casting serious doubts on his participation at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. “Coming off my last competition in Monaco, I couldn’t walk for two or three days. I had to be wheelchaired through the airport coming all the way to Canada.”

 

But Walcott threw caution to the wind, removing a soft cast to compete in Toronto. He landed the spear 83.27m to crown himself Pan Am champion. “I took the risk because something told me to take it. I just went out there and I did it.”

 

Walcott places great value on his Pan American Games gold medal. “It means a lot to me knowing that I haven’t been winning that much since the Olympic Games. That was kind of a confidence boost for me. I’m back on top.”

 

At the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, however, Walcott was nowhere near his best and bowed out in the qualifying round with a 76.83m effort.

 

In 2016, Walcott had mixed results in preparation for his Olympic title defence. “The best way to deal with pressure is to prepare yourself to the best of your ability, and me and my coach we are trying to prepare to the best. Last season wasn’t the best season in terms of the World Championships, but it’s behind us, and hopefully we can move forward, and the Olympic Games will be something spectacular to remember.”

 

Walcott enjoyed a spectacular start to his Rio campaign. With his very first throw in the qualifying competition, the defending champion threw 88.68m, the second best effort of his career, to progress as the top qualifier.

 

Though unable to find the same rhythm in the final, Walcott did enough to secure bronze, 85.38m earning him his second podium finish in as many Olympic outings. Only Röhler, the new champion with a 90.30m effort, and Kenyan Julius Yego (88.24m) were better on the day. “My goal was to win four Olympic gold medals,” Walcott said in a Trinidad Express interview, following his third-place finish at Rio 2016. “I guess I’ll have to settle for three.”

 

The two-time Olympic medallist is still only 24, and could very well have a couple more shots at Olympic gold.

 

Walcott’s immediate focus, though, is the World Championships in London. In both previous appearances at the global meet, he failed to progress to the final, and would be looking to change the script at the 2017 edition.

 

The build-up to Worlds started impressively, Walcott twice bettering 86 metres in June, including a season’s best 86.61m. But then, a bit of a back problem forced him out of the T&T Championships. The good news is that Walcott returned to competition, and in his last outing ahead of Worlds, in Finland in late July, he threw 85.22m.

 

Though Vetter and Röhler have set the bar very high this season with 90+ throws, the signs are positive for Walcott. The T&T athlete is regaining form at just the right time, and would surely have additional motivation when he returns to the stadium where he shocked the world five years ago with Olympic gold.

  

Personal Best

Javelin: 90.16 (2015)

 

 

Yearly Progression

Javelin: 2009: 66.72 (700g); 2010: 67.01; 2011: 75.77; 2012: 84.58; 2013: 84.39; 2014: 85.77; 2015: 90.16; 2016: 88.68; 2017: 86.61

 

Career Highlights

2010   1st *CAC U20 Championships (Santo Domingo)             67.01

2011   4th *CAC Championships (Mayaguez)                           70.98

2011   7th Pan Am Games (Guadalajara)                                 75.77

2012   1st *CAC U20 Championships (San Salvador)                82.83

2012   1st World Junior Championships (Barcelona)                  78.64

2012   1st Olympic Games (London)                                        84.58

2014   2nd Commonwealth Games (Glasgow)                           82.67

2014    3rd Continental Cup (Marrakech)                                  83.52

2015   1st Pan Am Games (Toronto)                                         83.27                                     

2016   3rd Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro)                               85.38

 

*CAC = Central American & Caribbean

 

Prepared by Kwame Laurence for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2013-2017

 

 

 

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