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PROTRACK » GENERAL » The Basketballer from Pennsylvania who debuted in the Stawell Gift

The Basketballer from Pennsylvania who debuted in the Stawell Gift

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This story is a couple of weeks old, but I have only just seen it. Sheds some light on an athlete who ran at Stawell for the first time. Given the impact guyls like Al Green and James Crawford had in the sport, Quentin Walker might be one to watch in the future.

Corio Bay Stingrays basketballer Quentin Walker aiming for big time in athletics

Michael Auciello •
Herald Sun •
April 18, 2014

SPORT has always been Quentin Walker’s ticket.

A ticket out of trouble. A ticket to a new life on the other side of the world.

The 23-year-old Corio Bay Stingrays basketballer hails from the small American town of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where life can be tough.

His athletic ability earned a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, where he was the first in his large family to graduate.

“I come from a bad area where a lot of friends got killed when I was young,’’ he said.

“A lot of drugs, violence, murder. Close friends of mine have got shot and killed and two weeks before I left a close friend of mine got killed at college.

“It’s just a place where I didn’t want to raise a family or live anymore so once I graduated college I just wanted to get out.

“Sport has always kept me away from the violence. I have a lot of brothers and a few of my cousins were involved in drugs and there are some things you see, I was a very visual person and I’ve always been aware of my surroundings.

“My dad always taught me to watch your back and be aware of what’s going on, so I was grateful to have my dad in my life and both parents in the same house, because a lot of my friends have their mother and not their father and it led them astray a bit.

“But I was blessed to have both my parents and sport has been a common ground for me, something that, if I was upset, I’d just go to the basketball court and shoot some hoops.

“I played gridiron so if I was upset I’d take it out on football field, but yeah, sport has had a big, big impact on my life.”

Eleven months ago, with his girlfriend from Anglesea, he made the move to Australia and Geelong, where he’s part of the Stingrays’ under-23 squad.

“My mother passed away the first week I arrived in Australia, so that’s been hard dealing with that since I got here,” Walker said.

But her advice before he made the move across the Pacific has been part of the catalyst for his new adventure.

This weekend he’ll compete at Australia’s most famous foot race, the Stawell Gift.

It’ll be among his first steps to what he hopes will be a promising and fulfilling career on the track.

He’ll go in with no fear, just as his mother would have wanted.

“Her being gone has just given me that drive to keep pushing and doing my best with the athletics,” he said.

“She told me before I left, because I talked to her before I even moved to Australia and asked for advice, and she just told me to go.”

Walker met his coach Trevor Beaton — who he calls Mr Trev — at a barbecue and they decided to give a running career another crack.

“I ran a bit in high school and college, I did track and field in college, I was a state champion high jumper in high school and national champion runner-up in college,” he said.

“The running, I was always fast on the basketball court.

“The running ties into the basketball, just to keep me in shape, get to that loose ball a bit quicker, get up the floor a bit faster.”

He’s competed in a couple of meets, and this weekend’s contest will be as much about learning as anything.

But the vision goes far beyond this Easter weekend.</p><p>“The ultimate goal would be performing in the Olympics,” he said.

“If I can get the times down, I’m still young, I’m only 23, a lot of the guys are vets so we’re working along.

“Running here at the highest level, I wouldn’t mind representing Australia.

“Our goal for this weekend is just getting better, that’s the big show there. There’s a lot of nervousness but it’ll be good, I’m enjoying it, and it’s just the experience really.

“If we win that’s good but if we don’t there’s always next year. I’m not done yet, if I don’t win you’ll see me next year, you’ll get familiar.”

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