EYES ON THE PRIZE: Trinidad and Tobago's Keshorn Walcott competes to win the gold medal in the men's javelin throw final at the athletics event of the London 2012 Olympic Games in August last year. –Photo: AFP

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Hasely: Watch out for Walcott this year

By Kern De Freitas

If Trinidad and Tobago's first Olympic gold medallist Hasely Crawford is any good judge of character, then look out for a big year from the reigning Olympic javelin throw champion, Keshorn Walcott.

The young man from the Trois Roches Village in Toco ended 2012 fittingly for a teenager who stunned the world with his 84.58-metre effort at the London Games, dominating the Ministry of Sport/Sport Company of T&T (SPORTT) Spirit of Sport Awards (SOSA) and the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) 18th annual awards ceremony as unassumingly has he had done in London. He is now also the Express Individual of the Year.

On Saturday night at NAPA, the TTOC named Walcott Sportsman of the Year and Junior Sportsman of the Year simultaneously, after he moved from World Junior champion to Olympic gold medallist within two months, the latter achievement making him only the second man from the Western Hemisphere to win that event in the 116-year history of the Games.

A day earlier he stood on the Queen's Hall stage, arms filled with honours as he took home SOSA's Male Athlete of the Year, Sport Performance of the Year, Breakthrough Athlete of the Year and Consistent Performer of the Year awards.

And Crawford expects that when he picks up that spear again in international competition, Walcott will be ready to meet the challenges and pressures that come with being on top of the javelin world. The 1976 Olympic sprint king has been observing the young man.

"He's very relaxed, very composed," Crawford told the Express yesterday. "I don't think those things will affect him. He's highly focused. The good thing about him, he is taking it one day at a time. He has the CAC Games (coming up this year), but the big one is the World Championships (in August in Russia), and that is his target."

Crawford has also hailed Walcott's coach, Ismael Lopez Mastrapa, for his role in the teen's development.

"One thing about this feller (Walcott) is he has a good, knowledgeable coach, and so I see no big problems. It's his nature that he takes things in stride, nothing with a fuss. I don't see any stress on him at all. I think once he follows that same path, he will be all right."

Comparing his 1976 win to Walcott's 2012 triumph, Crawford saw much difference between the two, in that he was already a senior athlete with a number of medals behind him when he won. But he expects competing at big meets to come "second nature" for the young champ.

"From here on in, I don't think it's hard," Crawford related. "He's been there, done that, he's the junior champion. I like his style, I like his focus. I haven't seen any change in him. It's the same Keshorn I've seen over the years."

The former sprinter is pleased with the maturity Walcott has shown through all the fanfare and attention he has garnered since his Olympic title, and to him, that augurs well for the future.

Said Crawford: "Sometimes I wonder if he's really 19 years old. No, he really handles himself very well. I think he has good people around him giving him advice too, and he has a really good coach. The only thing that can really hamper him is injuries.

"Normally a young man (who has accomplished what Keshorn has) tends to get cocky, but I haven't seen that in him. I wonder if he really enjoys all that is there for him. Once he continues that he will reach very, very far."

He puts Walcott's attitude down to "country values", and feels the young man can rise to the occasion in 2013.

"Being the Olympic champ, he (already) put a lot of pressure on himself," Crawford pointed out. "All guns are trained on him. But because of his country values, the kind of management around him, he shouldn't have a problem. He'll be all right."

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