But during the coveted sporting event, this country’s athletes were not able to retain their polish. In the end, Walcott was the country’s last hope to secure precious metal and he delivered.
“Yes. I am very satisfied. I am not satisfied with my year but I am satisfied with my Olympic result,” he said during a media interview with the Sunday Guardian early yesterday morning following his arrival at the Diplomatic Lounge at Piarco International Airport, Piarco.
Walcott was received and welcomed by Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Darryl Smith, T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis, SporTT chairman Michael Phillips, his coach Ismael Lopez Mastrapa, chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Terry Rondon and Member of Parliament for Toco/Sangre Grande, Glenda Jennings-Smith.
Walcott arrived on local soil fresh from the IAAF Diamond League series which took place in Zurich, Switzerland, following up on the meet in Paris, France, which he travelled to directly from Brazil.
Asked what expectations he had in terms of rewards, if any, from the state on behalf of the people of T&T and what measures he hoped would be put in place to bolster the growth and development of track and field, he replied, “That is not my job. I’ll like to see something but that is not my job.
That is not my focus. My focus is to be an athlete. That’s what I’m focusing on doing.” But it seemed the line of questioning from the local media began to irritate Walcott.
A reporter asked how he felt putting in the work over the past four years, “to come back now and still get a medal.”
“Ah,” said Walcott! “That thing you just said… ‘Still get a medal!’ What does that mean? I got a medal. Four years later, I’m the only one from 2012 back on the podium, if you can see that. The next two winners weren’t back on the podium from 2012. So you can’t tell me: “I still get a medal’, when only 11 people in the history of javelin have doubled medalled (back-to-back). Everybody was expecting gold from me. I was expecting gold, because I always set my expectations high but my coach and I knew it was going to be hard to get. So, we went out there with our hopes high,” he said.
“We went in there hoping that Almighty God blessed us with something and he did. He blessed me with a bronze medal and now I am a two-time medallist and now I can look forward to the future and know that I can move. The last few weeks before the Olympics had been tough. My technique wasn’t the best. I think my technique and my mental state of mind wasn’t the best going into the Games, so we had to work a lot harder. So, the results we got going into the finals was something great, even in the qualifications. It was something great knowing what we went through.”
When compared to the late Rodney Wilkes and Ato Boldon, both of whom competed and successfully medalled at back-to-back Olympics, Walcott replied, “No disrespect but I don’t want to be in the company of anybody. I want to be in the company of myself. I’m trying to achieve what I think I could achieve as a person. I was given a talent and I think I can achieve some great things, not just for me but for my country. I’m grateful to know that I’m being labelled among some great names including Ato and Mr Wilkes. I’m young. Hopefully, I can achieve much more, not just in sport but outside.”
The champion athlete declared that competing at Tokyo 2020 was not his priority considering there were more immediate events in his sporting sights. Admitting that his World Championship performances had not been at their best, so far, Walcott expressed hope that 2017 would see him improve his fortunes in this discipline.
“I am trying to change that. My plan is the same as every year, just to be healthy. Once I’m healthy I can get results. For the past few years, I’ve been up and down with my health and this year I’ve been healthy. I was able to get some good results at the ending of my competitions,” he said.
During the Rio Games, Walcott denounced armchair critics of team TTO, who he believed knew nothing about the mechanics of sports but still took the liberty to access social media platforms and trash local athletes who did not register medal performances. Yesterday, he stood by his remarks.
“That’s their job. Whether you win, lose or draw, you are going to have critics. It’s normal. I haven’t overcome anything because I never take them on because I know what I am capable of doing. My coach knows what I am capable of doing. The people around me know what we are doing. So, it doesn’t matter. I think if they get pay for criticising then they would be rich by now. During the biggest competitions you’re going to have the biggest critics, coming out of nowhere, thinking they are professionals,” he said.
“At the end of the day I always say as an athlete, you are going to have to deal with that no matter what. If you’re in secondary school, you’re in the Pro-League, you are going to have to deal with critics, but as an athlete you need to set your mind and understand that you are going to have critics. Once you want to be good, you are going to have critics.”