Ismael Mastrapa, coach of Trinidad and Tobago's Olympic men's javelin gold medallist Keshorn Walcott, says his charge can compete at the top level for up to ten years if managed properly.
Mastrapa, named the 2012 North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Coach of the Year said: "if we deal with him (Keshorn Walcott) correctly, he can be at this level for 8-10 years especially as he is so young and still has some improvement to come with his technique."
As for areas of technique improvement, Mastrapa has noticed Walcott's arm dropping a bit too low right before he throws and his stride becoming too large on his last two steps, which kills his momentum throwing the javelin. But he said Walcott will maintain his smooth, effortless run-up.
Mastrapa is also concerned about too much pressure being placed on his Toco-born athlete.
"We have to be careful how much pressure he (Walcott) gets, because you know, after the Olympics, the public may be expecting him to throw 84, 85 metres at every competition. That's not realistic because some of the 6-8 competitions he is going to be in next year , we are going to focus on getting his technique right," Mastrapa said, adding to that he preferred his athlete not to receive too much media exposure.
Mastrapa said that is why he is looking at some training camps outside T&T, either in Cuba or somewhere else, so Walcott can focus his training without too many distractions.
Mastrapa said that Walcott can throw 90m "if not this year, definitely the following" and that Walcott's training is all geared towards the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia next August.
The 42-old Cuban-born coach said last season his goal for Keshorn was to win the World Juniors in Barcelona-which Walcott did- and break the world junior record of 84.69.
"In fact that was my aim going into the (London) Olympics. We didn't focus on winning any medal. I just told Keshorn 'go in there and do your best' ...and then he won gold. I really didn't expect that but I knew he was throwing good enough to get to 84 metres," Mastrapa said, adding that Walcott's form at the two-week training camp in Wales put him on a trajectory to his 84.58 m winning throw.
In a magical 2012, Mastrapa coached 19-year-old Walcott to a national record and second best junior mark ever (84.58 metres) to claim gold in London, the second Olympic title in the nation's history and the first in 36 years, following Hasely Crawford's men's 100 metres gold at the 1976 Games, in Montreal, Canada.
Walcott also collected the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championship title, and World Juniors gold in Barcelona, becoming the first athlete to win the world junior title and an individual Olympic gold in the same year.
Mastrapa started a national throwing programme in 2007, and he currently trains a dozen athletes, including top local junior discus thrower Quincy Wilson and junior shot putter Hezekiel Romeo. Since then, T&T has been represented in the throwing events in every major regional and global championship.