Jehue Gordon is back home and reunited with Dr Ian Hypolite, the coach who guided him to IAAF World Championship men’s 400 metres hurdles gold in 2013.
“There’s no place like home,” a buoyant Gordon told the Express. “I’m feeling refreshed. There are some things you take for granted while you’re at home. Being outside, you see things differently, and when you come back, you’re a little more appreciative.
“Having these kids here looking up to Jehue, wanting to be like Jehue, that warms my heart. It also encourages me and motivates me to go out and train hard to continue to be that beacon of light for the younger ones, with all the bad and negative things taking place in the country.”
In 2015, Gordon had abdominal surgery. The Trinidad and Tobago track star struggled in subsequent seasons, diving under 50 seconds just twice between 2016 and 2019. His best post-2015 clocking is 49.89 — more than two seconds slower than the 47.69 national record run he produced to grab gold at the 2013 World Champs in Moscow, Russia.
“After the surgery, things went downhill. I went through a little depression phase, and decided that I needed to clear my mind. I went to the Florida camp with the hopes of running a lot faster in the 400, but bearing in mind my body wasn’t fully healed as yet. Things didn’t go the way I expected in Florida, and I decided to move to California by coach Boogie Johnson, a 400 hurdles specialist.
“My first year over in LA (2018), I ran 49. In 2019 I was able to maintain a full slate of health, but wasn’t able to balance training the way we expected to in terms of achieving our goals. I felt it didn’t make sense staying outside and spending all this money for training, and I don’t have the support, so I decided to move back to Trinidad. This is where I started, and I think here is where I’ll finish.”
Gordon is excited to be back home, training under the guidance of Hypolite and benefitting from the presence of local manager Edwin Skinner and the rest of his support staff.
“It’s like I never left. Doc (Hypolite) is happy to have me back, and told me he is intrinsically motivated to do his best. I need regular maintenance on my body, and that would come from having the support team around me — being able to work with The Sports Medic-TT, Dr Anyl Gopeesingh, Ian Sharpe and a couple others who are very critical in terms of moving forward.
“My body has gone through its little phase, but is definitely stronger now, so it’s just to believe. I need to work with a psychologist to get rid of that fear that something could happen again. I’ve reached the age now where you start to get little aches and pains, but that’s just normal in terms of getting up there in age and having a bit of miles underneath your body.”
Gordon, who turns 28 in December, said being close to his loved ones is another benefit of having his training base here in T&T.
‘Happy to be home’
“I’m happy to be home. I missed so many milestones while I was away. My brother had a kid and a couple friends got married. I couldn’t attend anything, but those are the sacrifices and the things that we prioritise in our lives. It’s just good to be back, to be part of things again. Yes, track is my passion, but there’s more to life than track.”
Gordon is hoping to qualify for his third Olympic Games, and has been preparing in earnest for Tokyo 2020.
“I’ve been keeping fit since September, doing little jogs, 5Ks, stuff like that. But now I’m back at it full-time, five, six days a week. I want to win an Olympic medal: gold, silver or bronze. The Olympics is the pinnacle of track and field. I’m not excited to go to the Olympics, no. When I go next year, I’ll be challenging for medals.”
Gordon is no longer sponsored by adidas, but is receiving some assistance from a rival sports goods manufacturer.
“The environment is not the same in terms of support financially and with gears and everything, but Nike is supporting during this process. And thanks to my management team, HSI, who haven’t given up on me and who continue to believe that I’m going to do it. I’m not with adidas no more, but I can’t bash them. That’s just business.”
Gordon said that while financial backing for his Road to Tokyo campaign is limited, he is grateful for the help that he is receiving.
“The Olympic Committee (TTOC) has helped over the last couple years. As of recently, the Office of the Prime Minister has also helped. And thanks also to Courts, bmobile and companies like these who’ve shown support over the years. I haven’t heard anything from the Ministry of Sport as yet, but I’m not complaining too much about funding. I was a world junior champion without it.
“It’s just to focus on the basics,” the Memphis Pioneers athlete continued, “going to practice, training hard and just enjoying what I do. The country is in a bad state right now, and they’re doing what they can. But to those who have the power to support the athletes and are waiting till the last minute, I’m not sure who wants that last-minute support because a lot of hard work goes into this.”