Keshorn Walcott opens his bid today for the one major medal that has so far eluded his grasp.
Walcott has been drawn in Group "A" for the World Athletics Championship men's javelin qualifying competition here in Budapest, Hungary. The event starts at 4.10 a.m. (T&T time).
The Trinidad and Tobago field athlete has Olympic, Pan American and Central American and Caribbean (CAC) titles to his name as well as a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. However, he has never stepped onto a World Athletics Championship podium.
Walcott's best showing in five World Champs appearances came at the 2017 edition in London, England, the Toco thrower finishing seventh. He is hoping for improvement, a top-three finish in Sunday's final being the ideal outcome. But the 2012 Olympic champion must first successfully negotiate today's qualifying event.
Walcott is among 37 throwers listed to compete - 8 in Group "A" and 19 in "B". The automatic qualifying mark is 83.00 metres, a distance the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist has bettered at four meets this season.
Walcott's most recent 83-plus throw came on July 6 at the CAC Games, in El Salvador, where he landed the spear 83.60m to strike gold. His best 2023 effort to date is 85.85 - good enough for seventh spot on the world performance list. All the men ahead of Walcott are listed for qualifying action today.
Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch, the world leader at 89.51m, competes in Group "B" along with Belgian Timothy Herman, who is fourth at 87.35, and Finland's Oliver Helander, fifth at 87.32. Action in that group starts at 5.45am.
German Julian Weber, India's 2021 Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra and Grenada's reigning world champion Anderson Peters will throw in Group "A". Weber, Chopra and Peters are second, third and sixth, respectively, on the 2023 world list at 88.72, 88.67 and 85.88.
The TTO combination of Omari Lewis, Jerod Elcock, Revell Webster and Devin Augustine will be on show at 1.32 p.m. (T&T time), in lane four, in the first of two men's 4x100 metres qualifying round heats. Netherlands, France, Japan, Hungary, Jamaica, United States and Germany are the other teams in the race. The top three progress automatically to tomorrow's final.
In the women's 4x1, Akilah Lewis, Michelle-Lee Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Leah Bertrand will do battle from lane eight in the opening heat, scheduled for 2pm. The TTO quartet face Jamaica, France, Switzerland, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Spain. The first three finishers are assured of championship race lanes tomorrow.
Ahye, who reached the women's 100m semis here in Budapest, told the Express the sprint relay team is gelling well.
"The chemistry is good; everyone gets along. I ran with Leah and Lewis at Commonwealth Games last year. I've been running with Reyare for years now. And the three of them ran at CAC a couple months ago, so they got it. They just fit me in, but the chemistry is good. I'm hoping we make the final. It would be good to lift their spirits at their first Worlds."
Lewis, 22, and Bertrand, 21, are World Athletics Championship first-timers. Ahye and Thomas, on the other hand, are seasoned campaigners, and were part of the TTO team that bagged 4x1 bronze in the 2015 edition of the global meet.
Bertrand told the Express she is looking forward to becoming a key player in TTO athletics.
"Michelle-Lee and Reyare are senior athletes so it's our responsibility, the younger ones, me, Akilah, (relay reserve) Taejha Badal to follow their lead and keep the Trinidad and Tobago team going."