Goodbye MVP, hello Racers
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Olympic 400 metres hurdles champion Melaine Walker is on her way to the Racers Track Club.
Sources close to the athlete told The Gleaner yesterday that the 2008 Olympic champion and 2009 World Championships gold medallist decided to leave the MVP Track Club for neighbouring Racers because of her determination to compete in the 100 metres hurdles.
Walker is in advanced talks with the Glen Mills-headed Racers Track Club and was spotted at yesterday morning's training session at the University of West Indies-based club.
When contacted yesterday afternoon, Walker's brother and manager Christopher Walker was not willing to go on the record but indicated that discussions were in fact under way.
Mills was also tight-lipped about the situation, directing all queries to the athlete's camp.
However, sources close to the club, which also boasts the likes of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, and Warren Weir, state that an agreement has been reached between Walker and Mills, with the athlete expected to be trained to compete in the sprint hurdles.
Walker herself was not available for comment, but in an interview with The Gleaner earlier this year, she said:
"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 indicated during that same interview that she expected MVP head coach Stephen Francis to guide her through her 100m hurdles ambitions, but it now appears that expectation was not met, effectively bringing an end to a long-standing relationship.
Under Francis, the 30-year-old won gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as well as the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Athletics but also had success in the flat sprints and sprint hurdles prior at the junior and collegiate levels.
The 1999 Carifta Under-17 and 2001 Under-20 100m hurdles champion was actually introduced to the 400m hurdles by her 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 has a personal best of 12.75 seconds in the 100m hurdles, which she posted at the 2006 National Collegiate Athletics Association Championships during her time at the University of Texas. That was also her last time competing in the event.