André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
"I am very sorry." Admittedly still suffering from her performance in the 400m hurdles semi-final at the London Olympic Games, Jamaican hurdler Melaine Walker has asked for forgiveness from the public, expressing regret at the uninspired 55.74 run, five months ago.
Walker, who failed in her bid to successfully defend the title she won at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, citing problems with team officials in London as one of several factors that contributed to her lacklustre performance at the Games, also confirmed that she will be looking to compete at this year's IAAF World Championships in Athletics, but hinted that her retirement may follow soon afterwards.
"Yes, I definitely regret it (Olympic performance) because you have people out there who love you and you have your family members, fans and sponsors, and to them I want to say I am very sorry and it wasn't an intentional matter," said Walker during an interview with The Gleaner.
"It was just a situation where there was a lot of stuff that I could not manage. There were many things I managed over the years to put aside when it's time to compete, but this time I just didn't know how to deal with it," she added.
"I have thought about quitting, but I don't believe in quitting, plus I am not ready to be done," Walker added. "My love for track and field is too great to stop while I still have so much potential."
Walker, who turned 30 in January, noted that she intends to seek qualification to the World Championships in Moscow, where she will be hunting her third medal at the championships, after mining gold at the 2009 Berlin and silver in 2011 Daegu editions.
"I will definitely be looking to compete at the World Championships," said Walker, before speaking to her outlook beyond the August 10-18 event.
"Knowing my abilities, I would say I would take it a year at a time to see my health and where my personal life is going. Based on where I am at this particular time, I could say I can throw in my spikes at any time, but right now I am just going along based on my performances and based on how I'm doing; that will gear me to decide when to quit," said Walker.
Despite the London letdown, Walker, who has been heavily criticised in some quarters, believes that the Jamaican public has been generally supportive, but feels that criticism is sometimes taken overboard.
"I believe that they genuinely love the athletes and want to see Jamaica on top. The part that I don't like is the part when they become abusive and tongue-lash us athletes," Walker shared.
"It's OK to say, well you didn't perform well, because the athletes themselves know that, but to say other stuff - personal stuff, is very discouraging to some athletes," she added. "It's good to have some positive things to say, it's OK to criticise but try and lift up the athlete at the same time.
"But they (fans) do love us all, sometimes I think they just don't know how to express their disappointment in a good way," Walker said.
Walker has won 17 individual medals for Jamaica at the youth, junior and senior levels.