Luke Walker is as talented as they come. He is currently a freshman (first year student) on full scholarship, pursuing his undergraduate and Master’s degrees as part of a dual-degree programme at Harvard University and Berkley College of Music.
He is one of those rare gems in the universe who has the ability to excel wherever he places his attention and focus. Luke has two passions which have had a profound impact on his 18-year-old life—music (playing the steelpan), and judo.
Born on April 28, 2000, he is one of four siblings who have all excelled in their respective fields. However, it was his curiosity at a line of children at his primary school—Maria Regina, that saw him get involved in the school’s newest sport, judo.
Judo, which literally translates as “the gentle way” is the Japanese modern martial art which emphasises the use of maximum efficiency and minimum effort to take down and subdue an opponent.
Luke is one of a trio of successful national judokas which include Xavier Jones and current Olympic hopeful Gabriella Wood (featured in February 24 issue), who were all introduced to the sport at the same primary school by Queen’s Park Judo Club’s Head Coach Sensei Mark Litteran.
In 2011, Luke joined the Queen’s Park Judo Club and within three years became a member of the National Judo Team under the guidance of former National Coach Sensei Jesus Chavez, and began to compete locally and internationally in the under 66 kgs and under 73 kgs weight divisions.
“Although I dabbled in hockey, tennis, and water polo growing up, I never considered myself as athletic. What I did possess was discipline and a willingness to learn.” He attributes this to his second love—music. He has been playing the national instrument from age three and never misses an opportunity in the US, where he now resides, to represent his country and culture.
I asked Luke quite candidly why he did not consider qualification for the Olympics (2020). He confessed that he was uncertain at age 16 if he wanted to dedicate four years of full-time commitment to the sport, and preferred at that stage of his life to focus on his education. However, he does not rule out the possibility of participating in the future.
He acknowledges adamantly that representing TTO is a gift, and each opportunity has always been appreciated. He shares, “Sometimes you feel like an underdog in international tournaments. You travel alone, or three athletes and a coach; funding is limited; and this often puts you at a tremendous disadvantage against international teams.
“Notwithstanding, we have produced athletes like Christopher George, who started practising in his twenties and within a few years became the first judoka from Trinidad and Tobago to qualify for 2016 Olympic Games. For me, he (George) has set the roadmap for youth to follow. He taught me the mindset of training for competition, and he has been like a member of my family.”
At the moment, Luke is focused on completing his undergraduate degree, and subsequently his Master’s in music at Berkley College of Music during the next five years.
He acknowledges the tremendous support he has received from his family, and judo fraternity. “I feel fortunate to have my family’s support and I am looking forward to completing my Master’s and exploring options in scoring for film, video games, perhaps performance and production. My options are still quite open.”
Luke Walker, on being one of a select and prestigious group of Trinbagonians to have been accepted to pursue tertiary education at Harvard University, we salute you for your talent, humility and your desire to present the very best of what our twin-island republic has to offer to the world.
Jamila Cross is a triathlete, former professional footballer for Sevilla FC women’s Club Spain, and mother of three boys Tishad, Akim and Santiago. She is the founder of the Mariama Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation raising the storytelling bar for the Caribbean’s female athletes.