Trinidad and Tobago track star Jehue Gordon lunged for the line at the Luzhniki Stadium, here in Moscow, Russia, yesterday, his herculean effort earning the country only its second gold medal in the 30-year history of the IAAF World Championships.
Coming off the final turn in the men’s 400 metres hurdles final, Gordon trailed American Michael Tinsley. But as he battled on the home straight, the Maraval athlete drew inspiration from two of the most influential people in his life—his coach Dr Ian Hypolite and mother Marcella Woods.
“On the last hurdle, I just remember my coach telling me it’s going to be a foot race coming home, put my foot down on the ground, roll my arms. And I remember my mom telling me to push yuh head Jehue, just remember to push your head. So did and so done.
“My head actually left my body and went over the line, and my body went behind it. I just throw my frame, as Trinidadians would say, I throw my frame over the line.”
Tinsley, too, “threw his frame”, and the two athletes, like everyone else in the stadium, had to wait until the results showed up on the giant screen to know who took the title.
“I wanted to raise up,” Gordon told the Express, “and just see my name to the top of the board.”
He got his wish, Gordon striking gold in 47.69 seconds—a new national record and the fastest time in the world this year. Tinsley had to settle for silver in 47.70, while bronze was bagged by Serbia’s Emir Bekric (48.05).
“I’m ecstatic,” said Gordon.
Yesterday’s gold was the 11th World Championship medal for T&T.
Ato Boldon opened T&T’s account back in 1995 with men’s 100m bronze. And two years later, in Athens, Greece, he triumphed in the 200m to became the country’s first senior world champion in athletics. A couple hours before the one-lap hurdles final, the former track star told the Express he was “ready to make room in the club”, the T&T world title club.
Gordon became only the second person to gain membership with yesterday’s scorching run on the Luzhniki Stadium’s blue Mondo surface.
“My coach has been nagging me and telling me that my body is ready to do something phenomenal. I went out there, had that belief in him, and kept my belief in Jehovah God that he’s going to bless me with his Holy Spirit and pull me through the line.
“My coach,” Gordon continued, “has been there for me since I was 12 years old. And I must give this big achievement to him.”
Gordon also acknowledged the contribution of the T&T medical staff, and paid tribute to his mother.
“My mom, I must devote this to her also. She’s been there for me through thick and also through thin. Mom, I did this for you…just continue to support me and believe in me.”
Gordon is a fully home-grown talent. He turned down the opportunity to go abroad, opting instead to train in T&T under the guidance of Hypolite.
As a 17-year-old, Gordon finished fourth at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany. One year later, he was crowned world junior champion in Moncton, Canada. And at the 2012 London Olympics, he was sixth in the final.
Yesterday, Dominican Republic’s two-time Olympic champion Felix Sanchez had to settle for fifth spot in 48.22 seconds. Cuban Omar Cisneros (48.12) finished fourth, while Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson (48.38) and Senegal’s Mamadou Kasse Hanne (48.68) were sixth and seventh, respectively.
In the cellar position was T&T-born Kerron Clement. While Clement opted to represent United States rather than the country of his birth, Gordon, a Sports Management major at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, chose to be the ultimate patriot.
“I wanted to show Trinidad and Tobago that I could localise things. I could localise books and athletics at the same time, showing people that I don’t need to go outside to be successful.”
Born, bred, and developed right here in T&T, 21-year-old Jehue “Young Prince” Gordon is now king of the one-lap hurdles. He has truly come of age.
Trinidad and Tobago’s World Championships medals:
1995: Ato Boldon--Bronze--Men’s 100 metres
1997: Ato Boldon--Gold--Men’s 200m
1999: No Medals
2001: Ato Boldon--Bronze--Men’s 100m
Marc Burns, Ato Boldon, Jacey Harper, Darrel Brown--Silver--4x100m relay
2003: Darrel Brown--Silver--Men’s 100m
2005: Kevon Pierre, Marc Burns, Jacey Harper, Darrel Brown--Silver--Men’s 4x100m relay
2007: No Medals
2009: Darrel Brown, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson, Keston Bledman--Silver--Men’s 4x100m relay
Josanne Lucas--Bronze--Women’s 400m Hurdles
Renny Quow--Bronze--Men’s 400m
2011: Kelly-Ann Baptiste--Bronze--Women’s 100m
*2013: Jehue Gordon--Gold--Men’s 400m Hurdles
*2013 edition still ongoing