Julian Walsh: Jamaican-born Japanese athlete making a name in 400m

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer writer

Sunday, September 14, 2014

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HAVING left Jamaica as a toddler, Japanese quarter-miler Julian Walsh knows little about the rich sports heritage of his birthplace which has produced a number of outstanding 400 metres runners.


The 17-year-old Walsh's (he turns 18 this Thursday) first major assignment came in July at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon.


He was a member of the Japanese 4x400 metres team that finished second to the United States in the final of that event. He represents the Asia-Pacific team in the 4x400 at the Continental Cup which began yesterday in Marrakech, Morocco.


While keen to make a name outside the relays, Walsh told the Jamaica Observer there is no rush to be a star though he has his sights set on a landmark close to home.


"I will be attending university in Japan but I am still undecided about my future career. I'm just making the most of the present opportunities," he said. "I'm looking forward for more experience in university and hopefully to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."


The son of Jamaican musician Imanuel Walsh, Julian Walsh was born at St Joseph Hospital in east Kingston but moved with his Japanese mother to Higashimurayama, a town in west Tokyo, when he was three years old.


His father, who has lived in Japan for nearly 20 years, says track and field came into the picture a bit late.


"He joined the track team in high school at 10 grade, but since there is no history of achievements in track at this school, with no field to practise or actual advisor, he could not start serious training until one year later," said the older Walsh.


This has been Walsh's best year on the track. In June, he posted a personal best of 46.98 seconds at a meet in Sagamihara, Japan. That run earned him a place on the country's World Junior Champs quarter-mile relay team where they took silver behind a classy US side.


Walsh last visited Jamaica for his grandfather's funeral late last year.


The Continental Cup has four teams — Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe — competing over two days in a total of 40 events.

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