Athlete with Jamaican roots burns the track for Japan

Monday, October 07, 2019

DOHA, Qatar — Japan's Julian Jrummi Walsh was just 0.36 seconds from eliminating Jamaica's Akeem Bloomfield in the 400-metre semi-final event during the just-ended IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Walsh, running out of lane five, next to Bloomfield in lane six, was left behind early in the race. But he closed well and just missed out on qualification to the final of the 400m, in what would have been a truly monumental feat for his country.

Bloomfield, who chased Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago all the way, had just enough left in the tank to finish third in 44.77 seconds. Walsh was behind in 45.13 — the fastest he had ever run in his life.

The dark-skinned athlete was swarmed by a multitude of Japanese journalists in the mix zone.

“Ackee…dumpling,” he said, stuttering when the Jamaica Observer quizzed him about his Jamaican roots.

“My father's name is Imanuel and he is from Montego Bay,” he added.

The 23-year-old Walsh, the son of Reggae drummer Imanuel, lives with his parent in Kawase in Japan's Saitana Prefecture. He said his last visit to Jamaica was two years ago.

Walsh, Japan's national 400m champion in 2016, 2018 and 2019, is ranked 29th in the world and has a personal best of 45.13. In 2014, he led Japan to a silver medal in the 4x400m relay at the World Juniors. He moved up to the senior level and led the Asian Pacific team to victory in the IAAF Continental Cup.

— Howard Walker