After running the 800 meter race in the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, former BYU track athlete Shaquille Walker fell short in his qualifying race.
With only 50 meters left in the race, Walker raced towards the finish line in lane 1. Unfortunately, a runner behind him sped up at the same time, tangling feet and losing momentum. While his opponent fell completely, Walker only slowed down enough to lose his place in the top eight. Finishing in tenth place, Walker lost his chance for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Walker, who formerly ran for the BYU track team, was born in Blue Island, Illinois, and ran for Richmond High School in Georgia before attending Brigham Young University. After running for the BYU track team for three years, Walker left his college team to run professionally for Brooks Beasts Track Club. His first professional race was the Olympic Trials.
After being disqualified, an appeal from his previous BYU coach, Ed Eystone, helped Walker to be readmitted to his previous standing. However, in tenth place, he still fell short of the Olympic qualifications.
While Walker faces disappointment in losing out on his Olympic dreams, he keeps his focus on what truly matters. A convert to the church, Walker openly shares his beliefs online.
“Before I really came to know God was there just a short 2 years ago,” Walker wrote on his Mormon.org profile, “I looked at religion as a Sunday thing that was not meant to affect our lives on any of the other days of the week. I now know that that is not the case. It is there to help us everyday, all day long. It is something we need! In short, it is not just a religion—it’s a life style.”
Although he didn’t grow up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he considers his happy childhood and family as some of his main motivators.
“I grew up in a house where it was never quiet,” he writes. “I have five brothers so Mom and Dad always had their hands full. Growing up around so many boys was fun and something I am grateful for! Because I am a twin, it seemed like I was always competing with him; in school, in sports, in music, etc. It could have been damaging, but we never let it get too out of hand. Growing up that way always taught me to push myself and to never give up on myself, on my goals, or on my dreams.”
“From a young age I have loved running,” he explains. “I always wanted to be the fastest of all my friends. Although I never ran track until I was a freshman, I always thought it would be a good idea.”
Walker contributes his success to his work ethic as well as his faith. After completing his two-year mission to the England Manchester Mission in August 2014, he continued running and competing.
“When I started track, I never thought I would have run as well as I did. Before long, I found myself setting big goals and dreams, some of which seemed much too hard to achieve,” Walker wrote. “I never gave up though, and gave my best which was all I could do. Through hard work and many many blessings, I have seen a lot of those dreams fulfilled! I’ve now had the opportunity to run all over the country and even as far as Barcelona, Spain. Hard work, determination, and faith is the key—with those anything is possible!”
Although he won’t be competing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, he will continue to run professionally with the Brooks Beasts Track Club. The Rio Olympics start on August 5, 2016.