WORLD CHAMPION:Trinidad and Tobago's Jehue Gordon
Ahead of his time
Jehue can dominate, says Coach Hypolite
Kwame Laurence in Moscow
World champion Jehue Gordon has the potential to dominate the men’s 400 metres hurdles.
This is the view of Dr Ian Hypolite, the man who has coached the Trinidad and Tobago athlete from the age of 12, steering him to Carifta triumphs, the world junior title, and now, IAAF World Championship gold.
On Thursday, at the Luzhniki Stadium here in Moscow, Russia, 21-year-old Gordon emerged victorious in the World Championship final in a fast 47.69 seconds, the clocking earning him top spot on the 2013 world performance list and 22nd spot all-time.
“Progress,” Hypolite told the Express, “is not always mathematical. Jehue’s ahead of his time, and is still maturing physically. Provided we can keep him healthy and continue to rectify some of his weaknesses, we feel he will go on to dominate the sport. That is the goal.”
The coach described Gordon as the quintessential professional.
“His approach to training and to life in general is very meticulous.
“He’s a tremendous student of the game. I have learnt from Jehue because his analytical skills are excellent. He’s able to convey his experiences. That is the hallmark of a champion.
“Jehue Gordon,” Hypolite continued, “will not miss a training session unless something really, really serious takes place. He never complains. All of these things contribute to making him the type of person he is, and a champion.”
Hypolite said he was beside himself with excitement when Gordon dived across the finish line to secure gold in the one-lap hurdles championship race.
“I was overjoyed…the reality of such a dream coming true. So many things could have gone wrong—had he not dived over the line, he would not have won. A lot of hard work and precise planning had finally borne fruit. I simply shouted to Ed Skinner that we did it.”
Hypolite and Edwin Skinner are coaches at the Memphis Pioneers Athletic Club. Both men are also among the coaches here in Moscow with the T&T World Championship team.
Hypolite said Gordon’s triumph was not a big surprise, explaining that there were “so many signs that something special was about to happen”.
“All his sessions were documented for several years, and over time we have been comparing. Jehue started doing things at the start of the season that he never did before, but we never planned to show our hand too early in a championship year.
“The 48 in Monaco (on July 19) was very well timed, and the (pre-Worlds) camp in Finland was particularly beneficial. Then he started to do things he had never done before. In Russia, he had a workout that was absolutely amazing.
“The night before (the first round),” the coach continued, “he came into the room and spoke about a strange calm he was experiencing. I suggested to him that was confidence and that he start believing in himself. Then, he executed the prelims almost effortlessly. And in the semis, he shut off and ran a fast time (48.10).”
There was criticism from some quarters when Gordon decided to stay in T&T, attend University of the West Indies (UWI) and continue training under the guidance of Hypolite, rather than campaign on the American collegiate circuit.
“There have always been detractors. We live in a society that is always like that. The detractors have inspired me and brought out the best in myself. When you undertake to coach someone like Jehue Gordon, who has shown such potential as a youngster, the responsibility means developing yourself to help him fulfill it.
“I always felt confident I could do it, and Jehue also felt confident in me. That’s why he chose to stay. I felt obligated to match his commitment.”
Hypolite said he expects that more T&T athletes will opt to train at home, leading to the development of a group similar to Usain Bolt’s Racers Track Club and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s MVP Track Club, in Jamaica.
“I think it is going to happen. I imagine Jehue’s success would be a catalyst.”