Richmond Hill High School grad Shaquille Walker was disqualified after another runner who tripped him from behind filed a protest following the semi-finals of the 800-meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials today. Walker had filed his own protest immediately after the race.
“I feel cheated, and I don’t mind saying that,” Walker said by phone after the race from Eugene, Oregon. “But this will only motivate me. I will be back with a vengeance.”
Walker was in second place with about 80 meters to go in the race when Craig Engels of Ole Miss appeared to bump Walker’s feet from behind. Walker ended up in fourth place as Engel tumbled to the track.
You can watch a video of the race on Walker’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/search/str/Shaquille%2BWalker/keywords_top.
“We were so sure that we’d win the appeal and I’d advance to Monday’s final that my coach told me to start cooling down and getting ready,” Walker said.
The rules committee took the full hour allowed to make its decision against Walker, who then had to file another protest just to view the video.
“Once we saw the video again, we thought our second appeal was even stronger,” Walker said. “I try to stay pretty even, but this stings.”
Walker said the episode reminded him of what occurred at the state track and field championships his sophomore year at Richmond Hill.
“I was in the lead with 10 meters left when the guy next to me who had been elbowing me the whole time nudged me and the guy in third passed us both and won,” he said. “I was devastated, but it gave me so much fire.”
Walker would come back to win the 800 as a junior and senior.
Walker ran a 1:47.93 Saturday, finishing fourth in heat No. 2, just 0.58 seconds out of third place. The top three finishers in each heat and the next two fastest times advance to the finals. Both of the two additional runners came from the first heat, which saw all three top finishers plus the next two fastest times run faster than the top finisher in Walker’s heat.
Walker, who recently turned pro and gave up his final year of eligibility at BYU, has said he will participate in professional track meets in Europe over the summer.
Walker finished third in both the indoor and outdoor NCAA track championships in the 800 this year and won a gold medal at the World University Games last year. His personal best, set in April, is 1:44.9. He ran a 1:47.6 in Friday night’s qualifying round, finishing third in his heat, to advance to the semis.