Olympic afterglow: Trinidadian Keshorn Walcott

A year after winning Olympic gold, Trinidadian Keshorn Walcott grapples with fame and his fans’ hopes

Illustration by Darren Cheewah

A year later, the track and field world is still in awe of Keshorn Walcott’s performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Just nineteen at the time, the Trinidad and Tobago field athlete captured gold in the men’s javelin to become the first athlete to win individual Olympic and world junior titles in the same year. The triumph was an absolute shocker, his winning throw propelling Walcott to superstardom in T&T, and winning him instant hero status in his home community of Toco, near Trinidad’s north-eastern tip. But — quiet and unassuming — the young thrower is not always comfortable with his new status.

“It’s been strange knowing that everywhere you go, someone knows you. But I’ve been coping,” he says. “I’m learning to deal with it. I’ve been kind of trying to keep to myself, just like before, trying to just focus on what I need to do — get back into my training. That’s what I’ve been doing for 2013, and I’m going to continue doing that.”

And while Walcott would prefer the convenience of walking the streets anonymously, he does not feel burdened by the additional attention. “I know everybody is supporting me, and the support is a boost for me, not any pressure.”

A six-week training stint in Cuba in March and April afforded Walcott the opportunity to live and train away from the public glare. He also trained in Cuba in the build-up to the London Games. “For me, going to Cuba is always valuable,” he says, “going out there, seeing the professional athletes training, seeing how hard they work, the dedication. For me, I worked hard and I’m seeing it paying off.”

Walcott enjoyed the fruits of his labour in his first outing for 2013. A crowd of about five thousand turned up at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 3 May for the inaugural TnT Elite Twilight Games, the Olympic champion’s season-opener. With his very first competition throw since his Olympic triumph almost eight months earlier, Walcott landed the spear at 84.39 metres. The throw was just nineteen centimetres short of his 84.58-metre London Games effort.

Walcott says it was particularly satisfying to produce his best-ever season-opener in front of his home fans. “Knowing that I didn’t disappoint was a really good feeling.

“First time throwing over eighty in Trinidad and Tobago,” he continues. “That’s something I never achieved before.”

Between May and July, Walcott competed on the prestigious Diamond League circuit in Asia and Europe. His main focus for 2013, however, is the 10 to 18 August World Championship meet in Moscow.

“I know everybody’s going to be looking at me, to go back up there and perform, and that’s what I intend to do,” says Walcott. “Training has been going really good, so hopefully the 2013 World Championships will be a great meet for me.”