Keshorn Walcott produced a shocker at the Olympic Stadium here in London, England, yesterday, becoming only the second Olympic gold medallist from Trinidad and Tobago.
The 19-year-old from Toco emerged victorious in the men's javelin, hurling the spear 84.58 metres in the second round to upset a strong field, including Norway's two-time Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen.
At the 1976 Games in Montreal, Canada, Hasely Crawford struck gold for T&T in the men's 100 metres dash. It took 36 years for the country's second Olympic gold.
But it was worth the wait. The Trinbagonians at the Olympic Stadium yesterday savoured the moment, singing along lustily as "Forged from the Love of Liberty" blared from the speakers during the victory ceremony.
"I'm more than stunned," said Walcott, after receiving his medal. "I just went into the final to enjoy it, so to come out with the gold medal is a feeling I can't describe right now.
"I know everyone is proud of me," he continued. "I'm just thankful for all the support. I'm going back to the Games Village to celebrate with the team, and we're leaving (today), so we'll celebrate in Trinidad too. I know they're going mad in Toco."
The newly crowned Olympic champion is expected to touch down at Piarco International Airport close to midnight, tonight, on Caribbean Airlines flight BW903.
Walcott opened yesterday's competition with a new Pan American junior and national open record, landing the spear 83.51m to move from fifth to fourth on the all-time world junior (under-20) list. There was a big smile from the reigning world junior champion as he took an early lead.
It was a lead Walcott would never relinquish. In round two, he produced the big one, the 84.58m effort moving him into second spot on the all-time junior list, resetting his records in the process. The teenager could not contain himself. Another huge smile broke out, he spread his arms wide and he hit his chest.
Though he fouled on his third attempt, Walcott remained in the gold medal position.
Already in the history books by becoming the first male field athlete from T&T to appear in an Olympic final, the four-time Carifta Games champion was threatening to write an even bigger story.
An 80.64m effort in the fourth round was followed by a foul in round five. The T&T thrower, however, was still in pole position.
It was do or die for Thorkildsen and company in the final round. Well, any hopes of removing the youngest man in the competition from the top spot died. There was no one to match the 84.58m throw.
Walcott was exultant, T&T's second Olympic gold medallist racing over to his coach, Cuban Ismael Lopez for a tight hug. The celebration had begun.
"I want to thank my mom for believing in me throughout; my coach who has been guiding me, doing a great job. And thanks to the entire country for believing in me and supporting me."
Walcott told the Sunday Express he could not believe he had emulated Crawford's historic feat.
"I can't really believe it right now. Knowing that Mr Crawford was the biggest name in track and field when I was small, and remembering when I was hoping to meet him…"
Ukraine's Oleksandr Pyatnytsya earned silver, yesterday, with an 84.51m effort, while bronze went to Finland's Antti Ruuskanen, who threw 84.12m. Thorkildsen had to settle for sixth spot, the Norwegian's hopes of completing a hat-trick of Olympic triumphs dashed when he could only manage a best effort of 82.63m.
The Olympic men's javelin event has been dominated by Europeans. In 23 previous competitions, between 1908 and 2008, European throwers won 22 times. The only blemish on that record came in 1952, in Helsinki, Finland, American Cy Young claiming the top spot.
Sixty years later, Keshorn Walcott has brought the title to the western hemisphere for only the second time in Olympic history, the T&T golden boy's heroics creating one of the biggest stories of London 2012.
By Kwame Laurence