caribbean celebration: Grenada's gold medallist Kirani James, left, and Trinidad and Tobago's bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon celebrate on the podium of the men's 400m at the athletics event during the London 2012 Olympic Games yesterday in London. • See Pages 3, 5, 18, 53, 59, 64, 65, 68 & 69. –Photo: AFP

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KING OF QUEENS

New York-based Lalonde Gordon has grand plans

By Kwame Laurence

A rare sight was witnessed at the Olympic Stadium, here in London, England, yesterday. For only the second time in Olympic history, the Trinidad and Tobago flag was raised during a 400 metres medal ceremony.

The man responsible for the hoisting of the Red, White and Black, Lalonde Gordon, was moved by the moment.

"Breathtaking. I can't believe it. I'm proud to make my country's flag raise."

The 23-year-old quartermiler wants to make such occasions the norm, rather than the exception.

On Monday, Gordon clocked a personal best 44.52 seconds to earn bronze in the one-lap final. Only Grenada's Kirani James, the winner in 43.94, and Dominican Republic's Luguelin Santos (44.46) got to the line ahead of the Lowlands, Tobago, quartermiler.

James is only 19, while Santos, who recently won the world junior (under-20) title, is 18. All things being equal, both men will again be in the hunt for precious metal at the 2016 Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But so will Gordon, and he plans to make an even stronger bid for the top spot.

The New York-based athlete told the Express that in addition to usurping King Kirani's crown in Rio, he wants to join the Grenadian in the sub-44 club.

"My goal is to drop the national record into the 43s."

Ian Morris' 44.21 seconds T&T standard has been in the books for two decades. But Gordon is not daunted by the longevity of the mark. And he shouldn't be. After all, he just broke an agonisingly long drought, becoming the country's second Olympic 400m medallist, 48 years after Wendell Mottley became the first with silver at the 1964 Games, in Tokyo, Japan.

Gordon told the Express that when he woke up, yesterday, he was in a state of disbelief.

"I thought I was in a dream. My roommate, Ade Alleyne-Forte, had to remind me that I won the medal. I still couldn't believe it. I'm the underdog, and I made it to the top."

For a couple weeks, early in 2012, Gordon was the world leader in the indoor 400m. He clocked 46.51 seconds on January 13, and followed up with a 46.43 run eight days later.

Leading the world, he said, inspired him on the Road to London.

"I told myself I have to try to repeat it outdoors and show the world who I am."

Though he has lived in New York for most of his life, his family having moved there permanently when he was just seven, not even the people in his Queens neighbourhood were aware of Gordon's exploits on the track, before Monday's historic run.

"Nobody knows me... just a few friends in the area. The bronze has given me a great sense of confidence. I've made my country and area proud. I hope people will recognise me now."

They should. Lalonde Keida Gordon is the newly crowned King of Queens.

Today's T&T schedule (T&T time) 2.15 p.m. – Wayne Davis II—men's 110 metres hurdles, semifinal 1; 4.15 p.m. – Men's 110 metres hurdles, final; 3.50 p.m. – Keshorn Walcott—men's javelin, qualifying competition, Group B; 4 p.m. – Semoy Hackett, women's 200 metres, final. See Team T&T in action, exclusively on TV6.

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