ORNELLA WALKER bagged five medals for Trinidad and Tobago, at the Pan American Age Group Swimming Championships, which was held at the National Aquatic Centre in Balmain, Couva from June 2-5.
The YMCA Aqua Warriors member was the lone Tobagonian on the national team contingent of 33. The Championships featured 230 swimmers from 17 countries.
Walker splashed to three gold and two silver medals at the four-day meet, and also established a new national record in the 100-metres backstroke final.
Amidst her sterling performance, the championships did not provide the Cinderella ending for the Castara native.
Walker was aiming to achieve the qualifying times for the Commonwealth Games, scheduled for Birmingham, England in August. Despite setting personal best in the 50m and 100m backstroke, she felled agonisingly short of the required standards.
Walker erased the previous national 100m backstroke record of one minute 4.62 seconds, set by Gabriela Donahue of Flying Fish Swim Club, in August 2019, when she out-stretched her competitors to take top spot, in one minute 4.18 seconds.
The Commonwealth standard for the 100m backstroke is one minute 2.29 seconds.
In the 50m backstroke, Walker out-swam Ortiz Yarid of Peru, who took the silver medal in 30.56 seconds and teammate Jahmia Harley, the bronze medallist in 30.86. Searching for the Commonwealth standard of 28.75 seconds, Walker touched the wall in 29.89.
Walker’s third golden finish came in the girls 18-and-over 200m medley relay. She teamed up with Johnnya Ferdinand, Gabriela Donahue and Olympian Cherelle Thompson, to claim the top spot in a comfortable time of two minutes 1.95 seconds.
Puerto Rico sealed the silver medal, clocking two minutes 4.55 seconds followed by Peru in two minutes 7.1 seconds.
Her two bronze medals came in the 200m backstroke and the girls 18-and-over 400m freestyle relay.
Walker posted a personal best time of two minutes 28.36 seconds in the 200m backstroke, behind Alexia Acuna of Peru (2:19.48) and Elizabeth Garrido of Dominican Republic (2:23.03).
In the freestyle relay, Walker, along with her teammates De-Nisha Lewis, Gabriela Donahue and Jahmia Harley, recorded a time of four minutes 13.17, behind Puerto Rico (3:59.06) and Peru (4:07.50).
TT ended the championships with 61 medals comprising 24 gold, 18 silver and 19 bronze, for a third place finish on 818.50 points.
Peru were the top performers, accumulating 1,149 points. Puerto Rico were second best amassing 1,073 points.