Return of Jamaican Olympic Champion Melaine Walker, 40, Sparks Varied Reactions from Fans

Jamaican hurdler, Melaine Walker, wants to represent her island home at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Walker, 40, won gold in the 400-meter hurdles at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the title at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009. Although Walker competed only once in 2022, in the 110-meter hurdles event at the GC Foster Classics, she won her place on the podium and is now eyeing a potential medal for Jamaica in the same hurdles event in Paris.

Walker’s goals

In an interview with Nationwide Radio Jamaica, she noted that her goal is to get to the Olympics and that she wants to focus her energies on that. She does acknowledge that she needs “to come back first,” however. To that end, the athlete is taking the small steps she needs to get herself back “in the mix.” Walker also recognized that she faces stiff competition in her attempt to make the Olympic team but added that she does not pay attention to the other athletes, but only to herself and what she can offer.

Walker’s achievements

Melaine Walker was born in 1983 in Kingston, Jamaica, and attended St Jago High School. She is the former Olympic 400-meter hurdles champion, holding the Olympic record she set at the 2008 Games in Beijing with a time of 52.64 seconds. At the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Walked clocked 52.64 seconds over the distance, the second fastest time in the history of the competition. In 2008, Walker was presented with Jamaica’s Order of Distinction, the nation’s fifth highest national honor, at a ceremony that included Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Dwight Thomas, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter, Danny McFarlane, and Bridgitte Foster-Hylton.

Fan reactions

Athletics fans have met Walker’s intentions with a variety of opinions. Some think it is not a good idea for her to attempt to qualify for the Olympics after such a prolonged period of inactivity in the sport. Several posted their doubts about her condition on social media, questioning why her last appearance in competition was in 2008, 13 years ago, and noting that it would likely take a lot of work to get into the shape necessary to compete with younger and more active athletes, and would possible put her at risk of serious injury. Other fans laud her goals and call out those who, as one posted, “are yet to win medals even on church sports day but have the temerity to tell the world and Olympic champion what she can and cannot do.” Another fan offered encouragement, posting that “Nothing is impossible!” while another supporter wished Walker all the best in pursuit of her dream.