Keshorn Walcott is just 19, but he's already Trinidad and Tobago's most successful male field athlete in Olympic Games history.
The world junior champion added another important entry to his resume yesterday—Olympic finalist.
Walcott produced a huge 81.75-metre throw in the third and final round of the men's javelin Group B qualifying competition at the Olympic Stadium here in London, England.
The effort was just short of the 82m automatic qualifying distance but good enough for sixth spot in Group B and tenth overall. The top 12 throwers will do battle in Saturday's final.
Walcott told the Express he had to talk himself into the right frame of mind, ahead of his third throw.
"I said, 'Look, I'm going to relax; hopefully, don't foul, and put everything into it.' And I got it.
"I'm feeling great," he continued. "I went out there, didn't throw my best, but I still got into the final."
The Toco field athlete's personal best (pb) is 82.83m—the Pan American junior record as well as the national senior record.
"Hopefully, I'll get my pb in the final."
Walcott opened yesterday's competition with a 78.91m throw, and followed up with 76.44m in the second round. He was visibly upset with what he was producing on his Olympic debut and admitted afterwards he was intimidated by his big-name rivals.
"Honestly, I was a bit frightened. Going into the competition, seeing those guys, I was frightened. But I knew not everyone would have a good day, so I just went out there and did what I had to do. I held my nerve, got a big throw, and things worked out for the better."
There were some anxious moments, however. Ninth after his 81.75m throw in the final round, Walcott slipped to tenth after Julius Yego landed the javelin 81.81m—a new Kenya national record.
Walcott looked on nervously at the rest of the competition. Among the throwers who could nudge him down the standings, and ultimately out of the top 12, was reigning world champion Matthias De Zordo. The German had fouled his first two attempts.
"You saw me standing there," said Walcott, "looking at them. But I knew that just how I was feeling, they were feeling—with pressure on the last throw".
Unlike Walcott, De Zordo was unable to produce the big one on his last attempt and had to bid farewell to London 2012.
Walcott said he thoroughly enjoyed the electric atmosphere of Olympic competition.
"For me, it was great. It didn't pull me down. It gave me a boost, knowing that there were a lot of people to throw in front of."
Walcott is T&T's first-ever Olympic Games male field event finalist and the country's third overall. At the 2004 Athens Games, Candice Scott finished ninth in the women's hammer throw and Cleopatra Borel copped tenth spot in the women's shot put.
Walcott wants to raise the bar in Saturday's final.
"Hopefully, get into the last eight."
By Kwame Laurence