Walker targets 100m hurdles
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Olympic and World Championships 400m hurdles gold medallist, Melaine Walker, is contemplating a switch to the 100m hurdles ahead of this year's IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
Walker, 30, has long established herself as a world-class quarter-mile hurdler, but it's no secret that her first love rests with the shorter sprints and particularly the 100m hurdles. As a junior athlete, she competed in the shorter events, and also during a successful college career at the University of Texas.
The 1999 Carifta Under-17 and 2001 Under-20 100m hurdles champion was actually introduced to the 400m hurdles by former St Jago coach, Raymond 'KC' Graham, after injury forced her from competing in her preferred range of sprints while a student at the St Catherine-based school.
She also won 200m medals at the IAAF World Junior Championships, CAC Junior and Carifta levels, in addition to a Carifta 100m silver medal.
Walker told The Gleaner that this season she will be looking to compete in the 100m hurdles on the circuit and will be using her performances to guide her decision regarding her events at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association/ Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships and IAAF World Championships later this year.
"Yes, I plan to do a couple 100m hurdle races on the circuit one or two times this year (to see) if I am prepared and competing at a level where I can be there," she said.
"I would have to think about what is more beneficial or which one (event) will bring more glory. We have to be realistic, so if I know that my best may get me eighth place (in the 100m hurdles) and knowing my level of performance (in the 400m hurdles) means I'm in contention of winning or getting a medal, I would have to decide at that point which it is that I want," said Walker.
Assuring that she has the support of her coach Stephen Francis in her ambitions, Walker did not rule out the possibility of seeking World Championships qualification in both the 100m and 400m hurdles.
"I am actually in an exploring mode right now, and I will have to base that (World Championships event) off how I compete in both events and just work with what my coach and management staff think and take it from there," said Walker.
Walker's last competitive 100m hurdles race was almost seven years ago, in June 2006 at the National Collegiate Athletics Association Championships, where she posted her personal best 12.75.
She admitted that it will take some effort to get back to that mark or anything close to the current international benchmark - 12.30 to 12.60 seconds, which is being posted by the event's leaders.
"To get back there, seeing that I have stopped for a while, will take a little work, so I guess that's going to be on Stephen's (Francis) head, so it's up to us to put in the work that I need to get back there and better," said Walker.
"Working with Stephen Francis; miracles happen. I believe he is a good coach, I believe God gave him the talent to coach and once he puts his all in a particular event, if he believes you can excel in it, it normally goes to plan. It has to be an interest of both parties," Walker added.
"He (Francis) said that this year he would actually coach and he is a person that doesn't want you to be discouraged for any reason when he sees that you really want to do an event. We will have to see the outcome."