PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
The Cuba-born coach who guided Trinidad and Tobago's Keshorn Walcott to Olympic men's javelin gold in London in August has been rewarded for his efforts.
Ismael Lopez Mastrapa has been named North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Coach of the Year.
Lopez Mastrapa, who moved to T&T in 2004 and later initiated throwing programmes, said the announcement took him by surprise.
"I am surprised and honoured by the announcement," declared the 42-year-old coach.
"There are so many good coaches in the region, not only sprint but also in the field events. It motivates me to keep working hard to develop throwing events in a sprint-frenzy country."
Victor Lopez, who chairs both the NACAC Coaches Association and the IAAF Coaches Commission, has congratulated Lopez for an outstanding year with Keshorn Walcott.
"Ismael makes the region proud as he is part of the IAAF's development programme for the hemisphere," said Lopez.
"He exemplifies cooperation among Caribbean nations, in this case Cuba."
In a magical year, 19-year-old Walcott achieved a national record and second best junior mark ever (84.58 metres) to claim gold in London.
He also achieved Trinidad and Tobago's second Olympic title and its first in 36 years, following Hasely Crawford's men's 100 metres gold at the 1976 Games in Montreal, Canada.
Walcott also won the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championship title and World Juniors gold in Barcelona, becoming the first athlete to win the world junior title and an individual Olympic gold in the same year.
"It was a very long season, starting training in December 2011 after the Pan American Games," said Lopez Mastrapa.