PEAKED IN FINAL: Jehue Gordon

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Moments that define us

By Garth Wattley garth.wattley@trinidadexpress.com

 Whatever this year was like for you, some event or events helped you make that determination. Wedding or funeral, promotion or dismissal, some experience shaped your view of the last 12 months.

It was the same case in the world of sports. Over the course of their seasons and various events and competitions, athletes across the disciplines could probably pick out one game, one race, one tournament that coloured how they will remember 2013.

I’m trying to play mind-reader today and figure out what some of those moments would have been for certain people. 

For young swimmer Dylan Carter, I can’t imagine that his silver medal at the World Youth Swimming Championships in the 50-metres butterfly in Dubai is a moment that any other of his admirable swims could have topped this year. The fact that he was only 0.2 seconds away from the gold itself, may have been agonising. But the butterfly swim had come after previous failed medal attempts in finals at the same meet. He just missed getting on the rostrum after finishing in fourth spot in the 100m backstroke and was last in the 50m back. By the time the 50 fly came around, he could have been wondering whether his months of hard work would actually produce a medal. In the end it almost got him gold, but for a few hundredths of a second. However, those 23.98 seconds of effort would have confirmed to Carter that he has the quality to become world class at the senior level in the future. When he lifted himself out of the pool in Dubai, it would have been with the realisation that a new level in his career had been reached. The Junior Male Athlete of the Year trophy he recently received at the Spirit of Sport Awards and any that he is likely to receive this year will be treasured no doubt. But none of them would probably top the feeling when silver was secured. 

Like Carter, I’m sure Jehue Gordon has replayed in his mind many a time that race back in Moscow, the 400m hurdles final at the World Championships when American Michael Tinsley, the London 2012 Olympic silver medallist seemed headed for the gold as the finish line appeared. But Gordon, his confidence and form peaking at just the right time, was not about to let Tinsley have things his way. Steady stride by steady stride, the lanky T&T runner ate up the distance between first and second. There was no panic, no unhealthy anxiety. It was all about trusting his training, and that instinct developed through numerous races. Everything came together, right on the line. I wonder if he remembers what he was feeling, what he was thinking just at that moment? Listening to others speak about the instant they actually recorded their big feats, many talk about time standing still; of hearing nothing. It was almost as if they had been operating in a bubble. Maybe it was like that for Jehue. What is clear at least was that it was the best 47-plus seconds Gordon had put together in a race in his career: year-defining for sure.

Not everyone’s biggest moments however, could be limited to a single event. 

For new Trinidad and Tobago senior football coach Stephen Hart, his year was defined by a series of things, starting with his appointment to the national team. A T&T native but not a household name in these parts, his was not a universally popular selection. But Hart, the former Canada coach has quietly won over some of the suspicious through T&T’s results at the CONCACAF Gold Cup where they reached the quarter-finals, and at the OSN Cup in Saudi Arabia where his charges gave an encouraging showing. And to end the year by beating old rivals Jamaica at home and away, even if those wins came in friendly matches, was a bonus that would have earned Hart and his team further credit with the public. To end the year as the Caribbean Football Union’s No.1 team was lagniappe. It was however a reflection of the effect Hart’s methods have already had on the senior team setup. Like a doctor handling a patient that has been ailing for some time, Hart has been assessing the shortcomings and finding solutions to those failings, bit by bit. The “patient” is still not in the best of health, but is at least showing signs of some kind of recovery.

For a team like Club Sando however, their defining moment did not result in a major trophy. Pro League heavyweights W Connection got the better of them in the final of the Toyota Cup. But their very reaching the final was significant for the Super League side with ambitions to one day become a Pro League outfit.

Coached by Anthony Streete, Club Sando punched above their weight so to speak in the knockout tournament and beat more fancied teams like Caledonia AIA, Defence Force and Police to earn the right to face Connection. That run was like a boost of confidence to the organisation, validation that the Club Sando project has value. 

Not everyone’s 2013 was defined by success however. 

Kelly-Ann Baptiste had her sprinting career halted by a positive drug test that caused her to pull out of the World Championships. And after lifting the Word T20 trophy last year, Darren Sammy’s 2013 will come to be remembered for embarrassing innings defeats and subsequent Test series losses for his West Indies cricket team in India and New Zealand. It was indeed a bad year for them both. The good thing is though, that the individual has the power to change his circumstances.

So for all who would like to forget this year, get your heads down and start planning for change.


garth.wattley@trinidadexpress.com

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