JEHUE GETS GOLD MEDAL
By MIRANDA LA ROSE and JONATHAN RAMNANANSINGH Saturday, August 17 2013
National hurdler, Jehue Gordon became the second Trinidad and Tobago track athlete to penetrate the air of a World Championships arena with the melodious steelpan sounds of this country’s Pat Castagne-written national anthem.
Yesterday, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, the 21-year-old athlete mounted the highest segment of the podium and proudly received his first-ever 400 metres hurdles World Championships gold medal.
Gordon also powered into several local and international sporting history books when he produced his victorious showing in 47.69 seconds, on Thursday. This accomplishment saw Gordon become the first male TT hurdler to ever medal at the Championships and the youngest athlete to have ever won gold in this event.
The last time the twin-island republic achieved such a feat was back in 1997, when sprinter Ato Boldon powered to victory in the men’s 200 metres final in a golden time of 20.04 seconds.
As Gordon stood on the podium yesterday, flanked by silver medallist Michael Tinsley (47.70s) of the USA and bronze receiver Emir Bekric (48.05s) of Serbia, he flashed a broad smile.
Before having his medal placed around his neck by an IAAF official, Gordon struck a jubliant pose which mimicked that of Jamaican star sprinter Usain Bolt’s world renowned victor posture. As the medal was draped around the youngster’s neck, Gordon’s eyes seemed to forcibly hold back the tears, beaming with national pride that seemed to overflow throughout the Russian arena.
Seconds later, the TT national anthem echoed through the Luzhniki Stadium as a smiling Gordon patriotically sang along, word for word.
Not long after the medal ceremony, the Maraval athlete contested the third-leg of the men’s 4x400 metres relay final with compatriots Renny Quow, Lalonde Gordon and Jarrin Solomon, and the team placed sixth in 3:01.74, unable to match their bronze medal finish of the 2012 London Olympics. Gordon (Jehue) was not a member of that Olympic relay team.
However, the team’s placing yesterday did not diminish the joy over Gordon’s success, as it emerged that one of the young hurdler’s unique characteristics is his loyalty to his country.
Throughout Gordon’s years of athletic prowess, he had received many opportunities to advance his education and athletics in foreign countries. However, the home-grown athlete always turned down these once-in-a-lifetime offers and opted to pursue his academics at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine.
Witnessing his patriotism on several occasions was Dr Iva Gloudon, Director of Sport and Physical Education at the St Augustine campus. Presently on special leave, Gloudon admitted she tried to dissuade Gordon from joining the regional university campus as a student-athlete.
“I tried to talk him out of it because while we in sport were prepared, I did not think that the wider campus of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, understood how or was sufficiently prepared to embrace an elite student-athlete,” Gloudon, Trinidad and Tobago’s High Commissioner to Jamaica yesterday told Newsday in a telephone interview from Kingston, Jamaica.
Paying homage to Gordon and his coach Dr Ian Hypolite, Gloudon said, “to his coach I sing all praises. They are the ones that should receive all of the kudos.”
Gloudon, who set the groundwork for Gordon’s academic and training programme at UWI, said, “I always knew it was going to happen. I thought it was going to be at the last Olympics, but it was just a matter of time. He has the talent. He has the belief in himself. He has the discipline and tenacity to achieve. He has a relationship with the Holy Spirit, and he is extremely intelligent.”
As SPEC director, Gloudon said through Hypolite and her efforts they were successful in getting several offers of scholarships for Gordon at a number of North American universities.
“Then this young man,” she said, “came to my office one day and said that he really wanted to stay at home and train with his local coach.”
She tried to talk him out of it because she was aware that structures were not in place to cater at the optimum level for an elite student-athlete.
“Jehue was steadfast. I understood then that he was a very directed, purpose-driven young man. His decision was clear.”
As a teacher and a servant of students, she said, “once a student is that directed, I go with that direction.”
Additionally, Albert King, former coach of Gordon, also lauded the humility and the maturity of his former charge at Belmont Boys Intermediate. During an interview on Thursday afternoon, King commented, “his strength is his mental ability. Even as a schoolboy, he was very mature. He was above his age.”
He added, “A lot of people were criticising him for not taking up an American scholarship instead of staying in Trinidad,” said King. “He decided that he would stay in Trinidad and still train. It is bearing fruit. I want to hear those negative people now what they will say. He’s very much attached to his family. I am wishing him the best and everything comes with time,” King added. “Even though he’s not in my club, I am a coach in Air Bon Sonics but he shows me that respect. He will always come and check me.”
Also sending congratulatory remarks for Gordon yesterday was President Anthony Carmona. The President issued a release in the afternoon heaping praises on the youngster for his gutsy performance and timely execution in Gordon’s biggest race of his career thus far. The President commended Gordon’s commitment to training and educating himself in TT.
He stated, “Whereas, most of us need another person to push us to excellence, Jehue Gordon, in the main, was always competing against himself on local soil. As much as we are prepared to celebrate his success, however, we need to also celebrate the road to his success. His parental support was certainly pivotal. This victory was also made sweeter by the fact that this gold medal was 100% locally produced. In Jehue Gordon, we have a homegrown, ‘home-coached’ champion.”
Carmona added, “I have spoken often with Jehue Gordon’s coach, Dr Hypolite and I recall one conversation with him during a period when Jehue was not doing as well as was hoped. I shared with him the idea of sending him abroad to train but Dr Hypolite said, “No, we are going to train right here and Trinidad and Tobago is going to produce a homegrown world champion.
“I was wrong and his statement was prophetic. I congratulate Dr Hypolite, Mr Skinner and the other Memphis Pioneers coaches on their vision and perseverance.
“My sincere congratulations to you, World Champion Jehue, on this golden achievement. You have made everyone in this Republic exceedingly proud.”
(See Page 38A)