Jamaica’s 2002 World Junior Championships 400m silver medallist Melaine Walker is determined to take the country’s one lap hurdles event to a higher level.
Determined to put behind her the questionable disqualification at 2006 NCAA Outdoors Championships when she crossed the line first in 53.85, Walker is looking to emulate Deon Hemmings-McCatty, who won the 400m hurdles at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 in a personal best 52.82 seconds.
To date, Walker is by far Jamaica’s top athlete over the one-lap obstacle presently, but the push from national junior record holder and World Junior Championships Kaliese Spencer, who is her training partner at MVP, the former St. Jago star, can only continue to move full speed ahead.
Osaka medal in her sights
As for this season, with the National Championships now out of the way, Walker, who as a High school girl defeated Hemmings-McCatty at a meet in Barbados in 2001, identified her main target as winning a medal at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan.
Walker, who is also a very good sprint hurdler with a personal best of 12.75, looks certain to surpass Debbie-Ann Paris-Phynes, whose best placing at an international event was fourth at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Paris-Phynes ended her career with a personal best 53.88.
"I am in good shape right now, so hopefully by the World Championships I will still be in good shape …and run a good time, get a PR under 53 seconds, and even get the gold at the World Championships this year.”
Walker’s agent/manager Juliet Campbell, the founder and CEO of Brick House International Sports Management Inc., apart from describing her athlete as “best athlete at Brick,” said she is also doing very well.
“At this time she is doing well,” Campbell, a three-time Olympian added. "I am looking forward to good things from her at the World Championships. I am almost positive she will get a medal," said Campbell, a World Indoor 200m gold medallist. "It’s just the matter of what colour she will get.”
Fifth fastest as Osaka approaches
Walker, winner of the Jamaica National champion over the event, is the fifth fastest in 2007 with a season’s best 54.14 seconds. Americans Tiffany Ross-Williams (53.28), Sheena Johnson (53.29), along with Jana Rawlinson of Australia (53.46) and Yuliya Pechonkina of Russia (53.61) are the front runners for the event heading into Osaka.
A former University of Texas standout, Walker raced to a then-world leading and personal best 54.14 seconds mark at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, USA on 10 June.
With her present form, Walker, who competed in all sprint and hurdles events in high school, is in a very good position for a medal.
Coached by Stephen Francis, Walker, who was third in the 400m hurdles at the 2000 World Juniors, is also targeting the national record.
“Anything can happen, that’s the only thing I don’t have control over, it’s God’s work,” said Walker, who made her first appearance at senior level during the 2001 Edmonton World Championships.
“I give thanks and every time I step on the track, I just run,” added Walker, who is expected to create waves, especially with indications from her early season 800m training runs.
Walker, the third fastest Jamaican over the distance, ran a couple 800m races, but though she was unable to break 2:15, the aim would have been to strengthen her legs.
And since joining Francis’ MVP camp at the beginning of the pre-season training sessions, Walker, whose background work was lay by Raymond ‘KC’ Graham at St. Jago, made it clear on a few occasions that things are working well this season.
“Training has been going well and I am really happy, and great things happen, and I am patient and I am waiting,” said the winner at the Jamaica International Invitational, while hinting that great things are in store this season.
Anthony Foster for the IAAF