Jamal Walton came into the World Championships expecting to contend with the best of the best. The Miramar rising senior expects to win no matter who he's facing on the track. In front of a packed crowd of 60,000 plus at London Stadium. Coach Chris McComb was impressed that the youngster didn't let the moment get to him.
"Running out of lane two and to finish that well was awesome," McComb said. "He didn't get drawn in by Isaac Makwala (Botswana) and LaShawn Merritt (USA) who were in lanes six and nine. He reacted very well, got out good, and stayed with them to the finish. It was just about him running his race and getting out well as he usually does."
Makwala won the race in 44.55, the fastest mark from any of the five heats, with Merritt behind him in 45.00, and Walton representing the Cayman Islands rounding out the top three. His time of 45.05 was the second best of his high school career. Only his 44.99, which ranks second all-time for U.S. high schoolers, and is junior class record was faster.
"I told him to enjoy the moment and soak it all in, McComb explained. "I told him the time will take care of itself. Just run the rounds, meaning finish top three in the prelims, and now for the semis to go top two."
On Sunday, Walton will need to run the race of his life, despite having the tenth best overall time coming in from the prelims. Only one runner in his third heat has run slower than Walton. The top two in each heat advance to the finals along with the next two fastest overall. So what's it going to take to advance?
"He needs to run the first 200 meters well and make sure he is not trying to hold back coming out of lane nine which he is in," McComb said. As an 18 year old he gets to see the guys on TV and to be running with them at this high of a level says a lot about him. I just told him to stay focused and stay normal."