Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 1st 2013 Contents SATURDAY 31ST AUGUST, 2013 -- UWI TODAY 13
It has been just a couple of hours since Jehue Gordon
arrived in London from Moscow to overnight at a hotel
before heading to his aunt's before taking o to Italy for two
races in the rst week of September. Might seem a hectic
schedule, but he's grown used to it a er four years. We're
talking by phone because there's no internet. He has a bit
of a cold, he says, so his voice is a little raspy.
I tell him his comments on winning the gold medal
at Luzhniki Stadium -- about doing it local -- were striking
and had touched a chord in the country. What in uenced
his decisions to stay local?
" e support from my family," he says immediately, "...
being able to stay in my comfort zone. Caribbean culture is
so di erent from American culture. In Trinidad your parents
do everything for you. My mum basically does everything,
she cooks, cleans, washes...I just had to concentrate on
For Jehue, it was not simply about having people do
things for him. It was recognising by watching the example
of Marcella, his mother, and her hard work and dedication
to his success, that he understood that it didn't matter the
size of the space you grew up in (money is not everything
is a common phrase in his lexicon); it mattered how large
you set your goals. He was never one to think small, and
perhaps this is what caught the eyes of the other enormous
pillars of support his life has had since he was 12: coaches
and mentors, Dr Ian Hypolite, a psychiatrist and the almost
73-year-old 400m Olympian Edwin Skinner.
Jehue is very clear that he was fortunate to have steadfast
support from what he calls his close circle: Marcella, Ian and
Edwin, who have stuck with him through thick and thin, and
who have acted as inspiration, guides and protectors from
Jehue Gordon at the
St Augustine campus
where he returns this
No Small Place
the vagaries of a world that has not always been kind.
Since winning the gold medal in the 400m hurdles
at the IAAF world Championships on August 15, he has
been interviewed countless times and he has consistently
showered praises on these three, crediting them with
providing him with the physical, mental and spiritual
sustenance he has needed for his journey so far.
It rings true, all of it; nothing shallow about this young
man, who is able to identify exactly what he means when he
talks about its signi cance to his upbringing and outlook
and his capacity to focus and be disciplined enough to
achieve his personal goals.
Mind you, Jehue was not simply a wheelbarrow to be
rolled along; from very small he had a keenly competitive
mind and a erce desire to excel. "I hate people to feel they're
better than me," he says, as he defends his choice to stay at
home to prepare for the world in the face of many criticisms
that he would be better o with foreign fare. "Everything I
do, I do to the best of my ability."
His belief that everything we need to do well can be
found right here in the Caribbean was not just inculcated
by the three pillars, but embedded because of the deep trust
he feels towards them. He describes their relationships and
how he knows that "they didn't do it for money."
" ey encouraged me to further my education even
when opportunities came for me to go professional," he said,
as he explains how "Doc" insisted that he would be better
prepared if he nurtured his intellectual life just as fully.
ree years ago he had enrolled in the Sport Management
Programme at UWI, and when the semester reopens in
September, he will be entering the fourth and nal year.
Even that choice had been questioned because he'd received
o ers of athletic scholarships from universities like Harvard,
University of Florida, Mississippi State, Florida State and
"I wanted to show people I was not normal, that we
can do things here. A lot of people limit themselves. ey
ask, why you want to study at UWI? Ask the CEOs of big
companies here why they studied at UWI. I am 150% red,
white and black!"
So how has he been managing both his athletic career
and his studies?
"It has been tough," he admits. "Success doesn't come
easily. It is hard work. But I don't want people to feel I don't
work hard." He says that he has had great support too from
other classmates on the programme, who shared notes and
had study group sessions to help him catch up. Given his
mantra, he doesn't ask more of the teachers, though he was
really disappointed that one lecturer would not give him
the one additional mark that would have made one of his
papers an A.
Still, he shrugs that o , and hopes that this upcoming
year will be manageable now that most of his friends
are nished with the three-year programme and are o -
He remains unwavering in his belief that Caribbean
people should feel more con dence in their abilities.
"I tried to get people to understand what I have been
trying hard to do for all these years," he says. " ey didn't
It was a big hurdle for him to cross, and now with his
gold medal to prove it can be done, Jehue's message that
when you think big, there is no such thing as a small place,
might nally come across.
BY VANEISA BAKSH
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