The Trinidad and Tobago citizens at the Luzhniki Stadium here in Moscow, Russia, were handed a rare treat yesterday.
We were able to sing along as “Forged From the Love of Liberty” blared from the speakers, the red, white and black was raised on the centre flagpole, and men’s 400-metre hurdles champion Jehue Gordon stood at the top of the podium.
Only once before had T&T’s national anthem been played during an IAAF World Championship victory ceremony. Ato Boldon was the catalyst on that occasion, the T&T sprinter striking gold in the men’s 200m at the 1997 edition of the global meet in Athens, Greece.
On Thursday, Gordon became the country’s second IAAF World Championship gold medallist, capturing the one-lap hurdles title with a dramatic dive across the finish line.
The T&T athlete clocked 47.69 seconds—a new T&T record and the fastest time so far recorded in 2013. American champion Michael Tinsley got silver in 47.70 while the bronze medallist was
Emir Bekric, the Serbian getting home in 48.05.
Following yesterday’s victory ceremony, Gordon told the Express his new status as world champion has not yet sunk in, explaining there was no “morning after” feeling.
“It felt like I woke up yesterday to run the race all over again. It didn’t feel any different. I’m feeling like a normal 21-year-old, coming out here to risk it all for Trinidad and Tobago.”
Thursday’s golden run proved to be a source of motivation for Gordon’s T&T teammates here in Moscow.
“I was actually getting too excited last night,” sprint hurdler Aleesha Barber told the Express, “when I saw what he did. He ran for that medal, and it showed me that the race isn’t over until the line”.
Barber was in action yesterday in the opening round of the women’s 100m hurdles and will be back on the track today in the semis.
Following his men’s 200m first-round heat, Kyle Greaux said the mood in the T&T camp was boosted by Gordon.
“Upliftment. That was inspiration. This morning, I woke up feeling a sense of pride. I wanted to come here.”
Sparkle McKnight, a member of the T&T women’s 4x400m team that competed in the qualifying round yesterday, said while the entire T&T contingent is thrilled, celebrations are tempered, especially among the athletes who are still in competition.
“Everybody’s excited, but at the same time, still keeping quiet, focusing on other stuff that needs to be achieved. They, too, want a medal, and they, too, want to feel that excitement that Jehue’s feeling.”
Another women’s 4x400m team member, Shawna Fermin, said she was very proud.
“It means a lot to know that somebody accomplished so much on our team. A lot of people underestimate Trinidad and Tobago, in favour of other teams. It’s good to know we put ourselves out there to open the eyes of the crowd and to set goals for our own country, and say that you can make it to this level,” Fermin said.