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Walcott wins IAAF Rising Star award

By JONATHAN RAMNANANSINGH Sunday, November 25 2012

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Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic javelin gold medallist Keshorn Walcott was duly rewarded for his recent string of global podium performances yesterday, when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) presented him with the coveted “Male Rising Star” Award at their 2012 Athletes of the Year Presentation Ceremony in Barcelona, Spain.

After a hectic year of unexpected golden finishes in several global meets, Walcott was openly recognised by the world athletics governing body for his significant prowess in the field sport of javelin.

The Toco-resident was presented with this iconic accolade by former multiple Olympic and World champion javelin thrower, Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic. Zelezny is considered to be the greatest javelin thrower ever, since he won gold at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympic Games, and still holds the world record at a distance of 98.48m (set in 1996).

Walcott shot to global stardom and produced one of the biggest competitive upsets when he produced a blistering 84.58m golden throw in the Men’s javelin event at the 2012 Olympic Games, at just 19 years of age.

At yesterday’s presentation, the three-time Under-20 CARIFTA winner was quite elated and still seemed to show signs of bewilderment of his Olympic victory.

According to the IAAF website, Walcott said, “This has been a fantastic year. Back in January, my only target was winning at the World Juniors Championships (Spain). I thought I would win an Olympic medal one day, but not so soon. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe everything that has happened.”

His recent achievements has seen him become the only athlete to win both the World Junior and Olympic titles in the same year. Meanwhile, Bahamian Antonique Strachan copped the “Female Rising Star” award for her double gold (100m/ 200m) at the World Junior Championships earlier this year.

Coach of the javelin ace, Ismael Lopez Mastrapa was also in high spirits yesterday after receiving word that his student was on the receiving end of such a prestigious honour. Mastrapa hailed Walcott’s loyalty, determination and commitment toward the sport for his international recognition.

“He deserved it,” said the Cuban-born throw instructor. “All of his performances this year were leading up to this moment. He called me earlier and I felt very happy for him.

“I’m so proud to know what he has become because of my coaching. I think there are two benefits here, him receiving this award and he being a student of mine,” he humourously stated.

Mastrapa admitted that the young field athlete has been progressing steadfastly, even after his historic Olympic campaign. He was proud to be affiliated with the youngster and was certain that this award created a new beginning of opportunities for the thrower.

“I was very lucky to find him. He continues to work hard and has been improving a lot. I’m sure that this is just the beginning of awards that Keshorn will receive. He’s so young and has so much capability in him,” he added.

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