Keshorn Walcott will receive yet another reward for his Olympic gold medal at the Maracana Stadium here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, today. The 2012 men's javelin champion has been named Trinidad and Tobago flagbearer for the 2016 Olympic Games opening ceremony, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (TT time).
“It's a privilege and an honour,” Walcott told the Express, yesterday, “to be named flagbearer. It's once every four years someone gets to carry the flag of their nation, so for me it's an honour, and I'm really happy and excited to be part of yet another opening ceremony.”
While T&T chef-de mission Dr Ian Hypolite described Walcott as “the obvious choice” to lead the troops at the opening ceremony, Walcott said shot putter Cleopatra Borel, a four-time Olympian, was a worthy contender for flagbearing duties.
“I knew it would have happened, being the only gold medallist coming back into the team. I think it would have been a competition between me and Cleo who would carry the flag, so I guess I won that competition,” the Olympic champion quipped.
Walcott said he had not been thinking too much about the opening ceremony, focusing instead on the men's javelin competition here in Rio and the possibility of becoming a repeat gold medallist.
“That is something I thought about because it's never been done before by a Trinidad and Tobago athlete. But not just Trinidad. Few people are able to repeat what they've done, especially winning the gold. If I'm able to do it, it's something to be written in the history books, and that is what it's all about--writing your history and building a legacy.”
Walcott was among the T&T athletes who travelled from the Sao Paulo training camp to Rio de Janeiro, yesterday, checking into the Games Village at the end of a seven-hour bus ride.
“The preparation in Sao Paulo was okay,” said Walcott. “I'm glad that we had the opportunity to have a camp before coming into the Olympic Games because being here and being in a camp is two different things. In the Olympic Games, you're exposed to everything. We just got here, and the place is just wild. Back in the camp we were able to get in some good training. It was a good camp, and I'm glad we did it.”
Hypolite was also at the Sao Paulo training camp, but made his way to Rio earlier this week to ensure everything was in place ahead of the arrival of the main T&T contingent.
“There are some minor hiccups,” the chef de mission told the Express, “but I'm working feverishly to rectify some of them.”
With Rio de Janeiro becoming the first South American city to host an Olympic Games, T&T athletes will have the rare opportunity to compete close to home and in a familiar time zone on the world's biggest sporting stage.
“I don't know if you can call it an advantage,” said Hypolite, “because we've been here long enough to acclimatise even if we were in a different time zone.
“We're very well-balanced,” the chef continued. “Podium challenges can come from anywhere in the team.”