BYU freshman Shaquille Walker won the 800 meter final at the USA Junior Championships to qualify for the IAAF World Junior Championships.
Walker won the final on Saturday with a time of 1:49.39. He went into the final with the second-best time in the preliminary round.
“I feel privileged and blessed to represent USA in Barcelona,” Walker said. “I have had this as a goal for the past two years to go and am excited for a chance to compete against the best in the world.”
To qualify for the USA Junior Championships, athletes need to qualify under a certain time within the past year of the competition. The top 24 qualifiers began Friday with three preliminary heats and the top times moved on to the final on Saturday. The top two finishers in the race are eligible to go to the IAAF Championships if their time is below the qualifying time.
The IAAF World Junior Championships are held every two years. Last time, USA placed second and third in the 800 meters and Walker hopes to place as well.
“I will continue to train hard and prepare for the Junior Championships,” Walker said. “When I get there, I will take it day-by-day and work hard and do my best.”
Fellow freshman Kevin Nielson also competed in the USA Junior Championships and placed third in the decathlon with a personal-best score of 7,275. He began the day in third place in the overall standings and after the last event was not able to make up ground on the other athletes. Nielsen ran the fastest time in the 1,500 meter of all the decathletes, finishing in 4:27.81 for 759 points. He scored the most points Saturday in the 110 meter hurdles, which he ran in 15.21 seconds and earned him 824 points.
The IAAF World Junior Championships will be held in Barcelona from July 10 to 15.