Jehue Gordon has heaped praises on World Athletics (formerly IAAF) Female Athlete of the Year, American 400 metre hurdler Dalilah Muhammad.
“Her mentality is what takes all her competitors out of the league she’s in right now. Even if she’s not the strongest or the fastest at a particular time, she is never going to put herself second best.”
Twice in 2019, Muhammad broke the 400 metres hurdles world record. In July, the American clocked 52.20 seconds to erase a 16-year-old standard from the books. And then, in October, in the World Championship final in Doha, Qatar, the 2016 Olympic champion improved on her own record with a 52.16 golden run.
Gordon, who captured the men’s 400m hurdles world title for Trinidad and Tobago in 2013, recently moved back home. He had been based in California, USA, and was part of the Boogie Johnson camp along with Muhammad and other world class hurdlers.
Gordon told the Express that Muhammad has an excellent work ethic.
“Even when she’s tired, she pushes. It’s just that mindset, knowing that she is number one, she is the best and she is not going to give it up. You could be realistic sometimes and say right now I’m second in the world, but even if she has the second fastest time, her mentality is that she’s number one in the world and nobody can beat her.
“We always push each other,” Gordon continued. “We support each other and we still stay in contact. It was good to see her break two world records this year. It was impressive, but I saw it coming a long time because she started to run times at practice similar to guys. I’m happy for her and happy for the team.”
Gordon is preparing for the 2020 season under the watchful eyes of Dr Ian Hypolite, the coach who guided him to the World Championship title in 2013. As part of his training, the 27-year-old recently competed in the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAATT) National Cross Country Championship men’s 10K event, finishing 19th in 50 minutes, 58 seconds.
Gordon said that while he is happy to be training at home again, he gained a lot from his stint in California in the Boogie Johnson camp.
“He changed my hurdling technique so much. I came back and Doc (Hypolite) praised me about the way I’m hurdling now. Seeing how world champions, how Olympic champions train, their attitude, their work ethic. They know it’s their job. Nobody has to beg them on a morning to wake up to go practice. We went out there every day, hungry to attain our goals. That was basically the mentality.
“Being outside,” he continued, “opened my eyes a lot, and it also toughened me up. In Trinidad, you’re kind of spoiled. Everybody is willing and able and helpful towards seeing you do well. But in America it’s a dog eat dog world, every man for himself. You can’t go next door and ask the neighbour for a banana or an avocado or some salt. So, once you finish practice, it’s just home, inside, and that’s it.”
Now that he’s back in his T&T comfort zone, Gordon is hoping to regain his place among the best one-lap hurdlers on the planet. Norway’s two-time world champion Karsten Warholm is second on the world all-time list at 46.92 seconds. And the men who finished second and third, respectively, behind Warholm at the 2019 Worlds—American Rai Benjamin and Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba—are also sub-47 hurdlers. They are joint-third on the all-time list at 46.98.
Gordon, whose personal best is the 47.69 seconds clocking he produced to win the 2013 world title, knows that competing with the current “Big Three” is a tough task.
“First thing is not to rush it. Right now they’re in a different league from myself. Running sub-47 is very special, and what it would take is to be better than when I was at my best.
“I haven’t been at my best for some years, so the main thing is to work hard, get back to the basics and be better than Jehue Gordon when he was a world champion. That’s the only way I could get back to that level,” Gordon ended, “and then surpass it.”