“I wanted to show people what Jehue ‘Young Prince’ Gordon could do.”
The Trinidad and Tobago athlete realised his goal at the Luzhniki Stadium, here in Moscow, Russia, yesterday. He was the class of the field in the opening IAAF World Championships men’s 400 metres hurdles semi-final heat, winning in 48.10 seconds—the third fastest time of his career.
Coming off the final turn, Gordon and Javier Culson were in a keen tussle for the lead. Gordon proved to be stronger on the home straight, pulling ahead of the Puerto Rican and then shutting down in the closing stages of the race. The 21-year-old looked right and left, making sure none of his rivals were close enough to challenge for the top spot.
Culson finished second in 48.42 seconds.
The semi-final victory earned Gordon lane six for tomorrow’s championship race (1 p.m. T&T time).
“For me to get a good lane draw was really good at this point in time, because I know what I could do in the final.”
Culson will run in lane seven, while the fastest man in the penultimate round of the event, heat three winner Omar Cisneros (47.93) of Cuba, has been drawn in lane five. Dominican Republic’s two-time Olympic gold medallist Felix Sanchez will run in lane four, while lane three will be occupied by American champion Michael Tinsley, winner of the second semi-final in 48.31 seconds.
“Thursday night is going to be exciting,” Tinsley declared. “Everybody tune in. It’s going to be a hell of a race.”
At the 2009 World Championships, in Berlin, Germany, Gordon produced a shocker. Just 17 at the time, he copped fourth spot in the final in 48.26 seconds, missing out on bronze by just three-hundredths of a second.
This time, Gordon plans to get to the podium.
“Back at 17 years,” he told the Express, “I was just running like a wild rabbit out of a hat, but right now I have a lot of experience, a lot of maturity from the Diamond League races. It’s always a top-class field on the Diamond League circuit.”
Gordon had a serious look on his face and was speaking to himself while being introduced by the stadium announcer, ahead of his semi-final heat.
“Don’t let them get away. That’s all I said. Easy. Don’t let them get away.”
And he didn’t, Gordon producing a sizzling run to confirm his championship credentials.
“I had fun today. The field, they took it out, but I had patience. I know these guys, they go out aggressive, but I had to focus on my lane. I wanted to show people that Jehue is here to stay.
“I wanted to execute the best race I could, and then feel as comfortable coming home as possible. I did ease up a bit before the line, so once I execute a better race in the final there should be some improvement still.”
Gordon has a full day to rest, ahead of tomorrow’s championship showdown.
“I’ll probably just do a light jog, some stretches, work with the psychologist again, Dr (Margaret) Ottley. The medical team, Ian Sharpe, Miss Verne (Alleyne), they have all been doing a good job. The manager (Dexter Voisin) is providing the necessary facilities, the coaches, they’ve been doing their job, so I must say that things are in place and I’m really happy with the treatment.”
—See Pages 58, 68 and 78