Keshorn is a warrior and a competitor. I'm confident he'll come back better and stronger."
This is the considered view of Canadian physiotherapist Dr Alban Merepeza, the man who made the call to withdraw 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott from the World Athletics Championship men's javelin qualifying event here in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday.
Walcott was injured while preparing to compete in Group "A".
"During his warm-up routine he felt a slight pop on his Achilles," Dr Merepeza told the Express, "so we did some quick testing. We knew the Achilles was intact but suspected a tear. We took him right away for an ultrasound which showed no actual tear on the Achilles or calf muscle. We then took him to the hospital for an MRI, which showed a partial rupture of the distal Achilles left tendon."
Merepeza, who is part of the Trinidad and Tobago medical team here in Budapest, took decisive action when Walcott sustained the injury.
"From the pop, I made the decision for Keshorn to not compete. When the ultrasound didn't show up anything, he insisted he wanted to go back to compete, but I stopped him because I knew something was going on. We needed to qualify and quantify the extent of the injury, and MRI was the gold standard.
"Keshorn was extremely disappointed," said Merepeza, "because at this competition he was in the best shape I've ever seen him in the last five years I've worked with him. He was actually devastated."
Merepeza and the Team TTO doctor agreed about the way forward for Walcott. "I consulted Dr (Anyl) Gopeesingh, and we are of the same opinion. This requires surgery. It's not something just rehabilitation can put back together. We're setting the wheels in motion.
"We're in contact with a world renowned Finnish surgeon, and have an appointment with him on Monday. Keshorn will probably have surgery the next day or two after consultation, but the decision for surgery rests with the specialist."
Merepeza said Walcott will next compete in 2024. "Keshorn is definitely out for the rest of the season. He will not be able to compete at the Pan Am Games. From my perspective, it would be four to six months before he can return to full training after surgery, but I'm very confident he'll be able to train for and compete at the Olympics next year. For two or three weeks, probably no weight-bearing; then we'll start mobilisation of the foot.
"Eventually," Merepeza continued, "he'll get back to full strength and sport specific training to get back to the world class athlete that he is. I've worked with hundreds of professional athletes from different countries, and Keshorn is one of the best."
Walcott's coach, Ismael Lopez Mastrapa told the Express it was challenging to see his in-form athlete withdrawn from the World Championships.
"It was very sad if we look at Keshorn's shape. This is the hardest thing I face in my life as a coach but we'll be okay," the Cuban ended. "This is part of the life of an athlete."