Plea for Gordon

By Raffique Shah
August 17, 2013

Raffique ShahThe ten leading stories in last Friday’s online Express related to Jehue Gordon’s golden performance at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow. While that was a welcome respite from the daily fare of murder and mayhem, it told a sad story of just how starved this country is for good news.

It’s not that the young hurdler did not deserve the praises heaped on him from all quarters. But for his performance to dominate the news the way it did—and I’m referring to all the local media—is an indictment against this society, trapped as we are in a vortex of “bad news” that’s killing us slowly but surely.

During the week in which Jehue never took his focus off that last hurdle in Thursday’s final run, his cussed homeland was rent asunder by multiple murders of persons his age, some younger. Crime plan after crime plan has yielded little more than brief respites from the bloodletting. As if the young and ruthless are not doing a good enough job of ripping out the innards of the society, our politicians greedily feast off its decaying carcass, destroying the soul of the nation.

Indeed, it was during Gordon’s 47-seconds-run that the Prime Minister and an entourage were visiting the killing fields of Duncan Street, a tiny commune where, police say, 138 young people have been murdered over the past four years. For sure, there is no chance of that district growing over-populated. Adjacent is Nelson Street, little different in its crime complexion. And in the surrounding slums, hills and alley-ways, from Laventille through Morvant, hundreds more die violently, day after day, year after year.

There seems to be no end in sight to the crime spiral. Yet, the police and politicians tell us “serious crime is under control”. They reel off statistics that bear no relevance to what we see and feel on the ground. Singing Sandra’s “Missing Generation” has morphed into the plural. If we save 30 per cent of the under-30s from death, delinquency and destitution through education or sports, we can count that as an achievement.

Which is why, I suppose, Gordon’s golden run means so much to so many. It is comparable to what Keshorn Walcott and his fellow Olympians did for our flagging morale on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Independence last August. The nexus between Walcott and Gordon is uncanny: they are both the youngest competitors in their respective events, the javelin and the hurdles, which are also nontraditional for this country’s athletes.

Let me put Gordon’s achievement in perspective. He had prepared well for this race, the only concern being an injury he referred to after he won in 48 seconds flat at the Monaco Diamond League meet, two weeks before the Worlds. Earlier, he had raced well at home, a sign of things to come. In Moscow, he won each round with seeming ease, getting better every time.

In the final, though, he faced a formidable field. The experienced Michael Tinsley (29 years old) had run faster than 48 seconds twice this season, and held the leading time, making him favourite. Tinsley also won silver in London last year.

At 36, Felix Sanchez, a multiple champion, proved his durability in London last year when he “stole gold” from his younger rivals. Sanchez, whose best time is 47.49, won his first gold at the Worlds in 2001, when Jehue was age ten! He also won Olympic gold in Athens 2004. Javier Culson (29), though not close to his world-leading times of last year, has a personal best of 47.72 and a string of successes in Diamond League meets.

Trinidad-born Kerron Clement (28), with a best time of 47.24 (2005), was world champion in 2007 and 2009, and a silver medalist in Beijing. And Emir Bekrik, Omar Cisneros and Mamadou Hanne registered their form, if not class, before Moscow.

With a star-studded field like that, Gordon had to run the perfect race to win. That he did. He gained ground at every hurdle, and powered past the fast-finishing Tinsley when it mattered most—at the line. His heroics gave this country its only gold medal at the Worlds.

For those who follow athletics closely, Gordon’s golden run was not surprising. What makes the victory sweeter is that he is a 100 per cent local product, much like Walcott. His coaches, the venerable Olympian Edwin Skinner and Ian Hypolite, must be credited for the work they have done.

Now that he is on the cusp of greatness, I hope that the politicians do not derail his focus with parades, awards, rewards, and maybe a cameo platform appearance. Make the champion happy with a decent home, adequate funding for training and his final year at UWI, and maybe an award (not the highest—leave room for bigger achievements). Promote him as an exemplar to the misfits who see crime as their only way of life.

But please, whatever you do, don’t sacrifice the boy’s bright future on the altar of political expediency. Gordon’s journey to glory has only just begun. Let it not end on the barren wasteland that is politics in Trinidad and Tobago.

3 thoughts on “Plea for Gordon”

  1. There is no doubt about it that our country has talent. There is much promise in our young where our country define their promise by where they live. An American idea. We are overly concerned by the quantity of our dollars than by the quality of our minds. While I believe that Laventille is a dangerous place for me to visit, I do not believe that all of our children in Laventille do not have have a bright future. Our problem is our society. How we define good and bad, how we define morality and immorality, how we view and accept race, how we define and pursue success. We have never deviated from the the societal barometers that we set for us by the colonials and Independence has never been more than another day of celebrations and fete. In every budget since Independence, there never was a clear cut social program set up by government that addressed the needs, problems, goals and aspirations of where we want the youths of our nation to go. Our youths are yearning for recognition and persuasion. They need the adults who set examples by which they can follow. They need the exemplars who by whom they can be motivated, they need to listen, hear and read the records of such exemplars to target their areas of development. If we are to judge our culture, habits, behavior, success and failure by what is contained in our media, we must not be passing on much to the next generation of human beings that are left with very little in which to build upon and continue to grow as a nation. Just think of those who figure most prominently in our media. Sat Maharaj (a racist), the Prime Minister’s personal attorney Israel Khan whose history reflects that of an opportunist, Anand Ramlogan whose boisterous behavior is more indicative of the class bully than an attorney general. KPB well! – she is the Prime Minister who will cry when she needs to show public sympathy, wear fashionable designs to show ethnic solidarity, will show up at religious festivals to prove her comfort in the diversity of our religious backgrounds. But will always be the last to come out when leadership is truly needed. There were once upon a time the name of Anthony Pantin were painted in the newspapers, television and in our minds to show that we had religious leadership, today we ask the question “who is the leader?”. It used to be that we looked to people like Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler to show us courage, today courage is a forgotten word. It used to be that we had Tv personality like Rafie Knowles, today we have to put up with Anil Roberts. It used to be that our unions produced men like George Weekes today we have Errol McLoud – winded. It used to be that we were inspired by people like Jeff Stollmeyer and Gerry Gomez and more recently by Deryck Murray, today blah!blah!blah!. It used to be that we were entertained, informed and promoted by Aunty Kay, today Machel. We used to look up to the likes of Learie Constantine, today we celebrate and look to Jack Warner. We used to have politicians of the stature of Eric Williams, today we have Kamla. It used to be that our young were motivated by having academic credentials, having respect for elders and acquiring community respect, today, most view manhood as walking with a carib in their hands on the avenue. It is clear that our values have been reduced to sound bites and there is little or not substance to what we see, hear and read about those in our “who is who” list. We look to three institutions to guide our national psyche – family, community, religion and government. The input may not be equally shared but government’s input is of significant importance to achieving a patented national and respectable level of acceptance.

  2. Gordon’s run was special and should be widely celebrated because here is a young man who loves his country, who made the decision to stay and train in Trinidad when everyone was telling him to go abroad. He is a trail blazer who believed in God and in his God given ability to succeed. Such is the deeply embedded quality that defines one’s patriotism,independence and belief in hard work.

    Jehue achieve true independence because he broke the psychological grip that slavery seared deeply into the mind of the locals that foreign is better than local. Self belief is what made Japan a great nation. Any nation that wants to achieve greatness must see its own potential rather than believing in another. The next athletic star does not have to go to any other nation….

    I have experience this self deprecation that lies deep in the mindset of locals. Put a white man there and the locals especially the older ones will treat him like a god. Put one like themself and they will belittle, look down and try to bring down that person. I have witnessed it and to this day still don’t understand it. The local coach I am sure will be chastised by some instead of being applauded. He should be applauded for training and bringing Jehue up to world standard. Cheers.


    Excellent piece on Gordon, and now Uncle Shah, let’s make a plea for Caroni workers who were fleeced by HCU Bandit ,Haranarine, and to date nothing was done about it.
    The reason to move on is is simple. Unlike Jamaica, or Barbados,our socially fractured T&T, can never in this lifetime, be a power house in sports, or anything of significance for that matter, since selfish tribalism abounds, and so adequate funding/ supports by present leaders,would never take place for obvious reasons.
    Just met me a Dougla chick from Marabella, who lost 65 grand at the HCU , but was given the middle finger , when she enquired about her money. Let’s make a plea for other White color criminality victims.
    Remember Clico, and Uncle Dupree?
    You should ,for he claimed that Basdeo’s two elite kids, got their full education in Mama England, with slush funds from the now demise Insurance company.
    You see Uncle Shah, in International Relations circles ,we refer to revenge retaliations, as political blowback.

    What else do you however call retaliations against corrupt malfeasance ,towards powerful characters , and their trusted agents?
    Me think folks , this is just the tip of the iceberg. Now even the most clueless, incompetent Cop, will tell you that when it comes to these forms of overkill- there is more than the pestle in the mortar, ennnt?
    The time for action is now Uncle Shah.
    Enough with the escapist ,feel good discussions!I don’t wish to see many more big fishes , being carted off in body bags , because, of too many guns floating around our country, limited security by overwhelm , disgruntled law enforcement officials, and hopeless , angry citizens, operating on the wrong side of our already numerous , sometimes opaque laws.
    We wish the family of unfortunate lawyer Debeedeen, well,si?Let’s push back on White color banditry, while simultaneously going after Blue color thugs , and vagabonds.

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