The nerves barely showed last Saturday as 19-year-old Keshorn Walcott lined up with seasoned European rivals in the Olympic javelin throw final and then walked away with the coveted title after a best effort and national record throw of 84.58 metres.
The youngster seemed more uneasy dealing with the limelight yesterday during a reception ceremony for returning Trinidad and Tobago Olympic athletes at Piarco International Airport—including sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye, cyclist Njisane Phillip and quarter-miler Machel Cedenio—than he was going up against two-time defending Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen in the Olympic Stadium in London.
"I kind of expected [all the attention] because I was told of it since the day I won the medal," Walcott told the media after he had been honoured by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. "Everyone told me there was going to be a lot of pressure, so I was kind of preparing in my mind, but as you can see I wasn't totally prepared for all this."
Walcott does not want things to change too much despite being honoured with a house in Federation Park, $1 million and several other gifts.
"I don't think it has (sunk) in yet. I didn't really hear much of (the rewards) too well because of the noise, but hopefully I'll hear them after and think about them."
The Olympic and world junior javelin champion is already thinking about life as a senior athlete despite his recent success.
"As everyone knows, (the Olympic Games are) already gone...so I'm just looking to the future, there's more Olympics to come, more World Championships, and now that I'm a senior, I'm just going to go back out there and train.
"It's all about training. Throughout the year I've been training normal, so I'm just going to go back to that, sticking with my coach (Ismael Lopez). I know there are going to be a lot of expectations of me now, so I'm just going to have to live with it."
Walcott recalled his experience with his fellow competitors after he had confirmed his victory in the Olympic Stadium.
"Most of them just congratulated me. The stadium itself was shocked because of where I'm from...everyone knows that Europeans dominate the javelin.
"(But) to achieve this is great. I didn't really set my mind on gold at the Olympics. I achieved my goal the month before at the World Junior (Championships). So going into the Olympics, going out there winning gold, my mind was just all over the place. I know I surprised a lot of persons."
And the biggest endorsement for the teenager came from Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, who had accompanied the T&T team to London.
"What is the greatest thing (about him), he is a man of class," Roberts stressed. "I want my son to be just like him. I've been around athletes all my life, and he is the most humble, classy individual (I've met). It couldn't have happened to a nicer man."