The man responsible for shaping Keshorn Walcott into an Olympic gold medallist, Cuban throws coach Ismael Lopez, says there is no limit to the heights the talented teenager can attain.
"His best quality is dedication, so we can achieve anything. Wow. I feel very happy. I'm very proud of Keshorn. I don't have words to describe."
Walcott became only the second Trinidad and Tobago athlete in Olympic history to strike gold, when he won the men's javelin with an 84.58 metres throw, at the Olympic Stadium, here in London, England, on Saturday.
Walcott's winning throw was a 1.75-metre improvement on his pre-Olympic personal best—82.83m. The 84.58m effort is a new Pan American junior (under-20) and national senior record. It lifted Walcott into second spot on the all-time global under-20 list, behind Latvia's Zigismunds Sirmais, the world junior record holder at 84.69m.
Lopez told the Express he was not surprised by Walcott's London 2012 performance.
"For me, I expected the junior world record. We were working at making his first throw relaxed. If the first throw is good, it makes things easier."
As planned, Walcott was relaxed for his first round effort, throwing the javelin 83.51m. In round two, he improved to 84.58m—the throw that would earn T&T its first taste of Olympic gold since Hasely Crawford's men's 100m triumph in 1976.
Dexter Voisin, the T&T track and field manager at London 2012, said that Walcott's triumph could not have been anticipated.
"It was a surprise to anybody. I sat among European coaches and saw amazement in their faces.
"This shows that once you put your mind to something and stick to the game plan, you can achieve anything. Keshorn is a very disciplined guy, takes training very seriously, listens to his coach, and has a strong mind. He's the ideal athlete."
T&T chef de mission, Annette Knott, also praised the 19-year-old Toco thrower.
"Quiet confidence. He works hard, without any fuss."
Walcott has had an arduous but highly rewarding season, striking gold at the Carifta Games, the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships, World Junior Championships, and now the Olympic Games.
Lopez said his athlete will now get a well-deserved rest, before beginning preparations for the 2013 season.
"We have to take care of him. Keshorn was invited to two meets in Europe, but he'll go home. For him, the season is finished."
Walcott's main focus in 2013 will be the World Championships, in Moscow, Russia. Hitting the 90-metre mark is also among the thrower's goals for next season.
Lopez said he is looking forward to the continued support of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (sportt).
"I'm grateful for the camp in Cuba in April and May that they paid for. It made a big difference in Keshorn's preparations."
He said the pre-Olympic camp in Cardiff, Wales, was beneficial as well.
"It had all the facilities, everything, and played a key part in Keshorn's performance."
While Walcott has a rare gift for hurling the spear, Lopez is convinced there are other potential Olympic champions in T&T waiting to be discovered.
"There are more like him, but something needs to be in place to develop field events. We need facilities. The throwers and jumpers cannot always train at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Because of football games, the field is not always available. A field events facility is needed."
Lopez said throwing talent abounds in both Toco and Tobago.
"You have to look long-term. Start at 12/13. At that age, you have the time to teach different skills for throws. At age 15/16, the athletes can specialise in a particular throw."
If Lopez has his way, the Walcott win—arguably the biggest surprise of London 2012—will not be a one-off occurrence never to be repeated, but rather, the first of many global field successes for a nation that has built its Olympic reputation on the track.
By Keshorn Walcott