"It's a wonderful feeling, knowing that I put my name out there. People should know who I am now."
Before the 2012 Olympic Games started, Lalonde Gordon was certainly not a household name.
That changed at the Olympic Stadium, here in London, England, last night, the 23-year-old becoming only the second athlete from Trinidad and Tobago to earn Olympic precious metal in the 400 metres event.
Gordon got home in 44.52 seconds in the men's one-lap final to secure bronze, joining 1964 silver medallist Wendell Mottley in what is now an elite club of two.
Kirani James became Grenada's first ever Olympic medallist. The 19-year-old achieved the feat in style, striking gold in a personal best 43.94 seconds, becoming the first non-American to dive under 44 seconds.
"I'm very proud for me," said James, "very proud for my country, and everyone who's affiliated to my country and me. Words can't explain. There's probably a huge street party going on right now."
Another teenager, 18-year-old world junior champion Luguelin Santos picked up silver for the Dominican Republic in 44.46.
Gordon's bronze completed a Caribbean sweep of the medals.
Gordon was drawn in lane four for the final, while James was in five. The Grenadian pulled away from Gordon on the back straight, and dominated the field coming home. Gordon, though, was strong enough towards the end of the race to battle with Santos for silver, holding off the rest of the field in the process.
"The last 60/50 metres, I knew I had it. I had the bronze medal."
Gordon told the Express he was very grateful to his coach, Trevor Green.
"Believing in God, my coach and his training—tonight it paid off. A dream come true. It's just a wonderful feeling to be an Olympic medallist."
After the race, an exhausted Gordon stooped on the track, before draping a T&T flag across his shoulders and enjoying a celebration very few had anticipated.
With his 44.52 personal best in the championship race, New York-based Gordon moved into second spot on the all-time T&T performance list.
In Sunday's semifinal round, the Lowlands, Tobago quartermiler won the opening heat in 44.58 to move into joint-third with Patrick Delice. Yesterday, he pulled away from Delice and edged past Renny Quow (44.53). Gordon now has his sights set on bettering the 44.21 seconds national record, established by Ian Morris in the semifinal round at the 1992 Olympics, in Barcelona, Spain.
"If I have any more meets after the Olympics, I hope to take it. If not, maybe next year."
Dexter Voisin, the T&T track and field manager here in London, was very pleased with Gordon's performance.
"Lalonde is an expressionless type of athlete. In his own subtle way, he would have decided to come and give 100 per cent in all rounds."
Gordon's mother, Cynthia Cupid, is also in London.
"I started crying," she told the Express.
"I know he's a great runner. He has a lot of potential. Lalonde needs a lot of support. He can get much better."
Gordon's next Olympic assignment is the 4x400m relay. The team, though, will have to do without Quow.
The 2009 World Championship bronze medallist pulled out of the individual 400m event, here in London, with a hamstring injury. He has since returned to his training base in the United States for treatment.
Though Quow's absence is a big blow to the team, Gordon is still targeting a podium finish.
"We have a good chance at medalling," he declared.
But whether or not the 4x400 men finish in the top three, Gordon will leave London with precious metal, his 400m bronze taking T&T's all-time Olympic medal tally to 15. —See Page 5