Walton makes Cayman proud at World Championships

Jamal Walton (file photo)

Teenager runner Jamal Walton proudly represented the Cayman Islands at the IAAF World Championships, making it to the semi-finals of the men’s 400m to cap a sensational year of international competition on the track.

After finishing third in his opening round heat with a time of 45.05 seconds, Walton moved on to the penultimate round of the competition. He ran in the third of three semi-final races and needed to finish in the top two to book an automatic berth in the final.

Running in lane nine, Walton started well but was running blind outside of the field. Nonetheless, he held his own and made up ground on other competitors down the home stretch to finish fourth in the race with a time of 45.16 seconds. That was not fast enough to secure a birth among the final eight to run in the final.

To put things into context, even Walton’s personal best and Cayman Islands national record of 44.99 seconds set at the Pan American U20 Championships last month, would not have been among the quickest times in London. But at 18 years-old, he can hold his head high. Competing against professional athletes, the high school student was 10th fastest in the opening round 13th fastest of the 24 athletes in the semi-finals.

At CaymanSportsBuzz.com, we salute the young man and are confident there will be great things in store for him. Others in the community were quick to express their pride on social media. The following are a sample of comments made on our Facebook page after his semi-final run.

The trip to London was just another feather in his cap in a year in which he has blazed the track.

On 21 July, Walton stormed to a gold medal in the 400m at the Pan American U20 Championships in Peru with a national record and games record of 44.99 seconds. That put him in rare company, as one of the few high school athletes to break the 45-second barrier. With that run, he qualified for the IAAF World Championships.

In June, Walton comfortably won gold in both the 200m and 400m at the NatWest Island Games in Gotland. His 46.33 seconds in the 400m is the quickest time in the event at those games.

In April, also won 200m gold and 400m silver at the Flow CARIFTA Games in Curacao. That month, he set national record in the 400m and 200m at a high school meet in Florida, where he attends Miramar High School. Though he has improved on that 400m run, the 200m mark of 20.57 still stands as the best time ever in the event by a Caymanian.

He has his sights set on the Commonwealth Games next year and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and being a force to be reckoned with when running with the world’s best. “My long-term goal is to have the world records,” Walton said in a recent interview with CaymanSportsBuzz.com.

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