Lalonde Gordon showed true grit when he won T&T’s first medal at the 2012 Olympic Games—bronze in the men’s 400 metres final yesterday—at the Olympic Stadium, London, England. Gordon clocked 44.52 seconds, a new personal best, in a race which was more of a battle for second and third spots when Grenadian teenager, Kirani James, 19, sprinted out of reach down the home straight to win in 43.94 to get Grenada’s first-ever Olympic medal. In completing the feat, James also set a new national record for the “Spice Isle.” Another 19-year-old, Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic copped the silver in 44.46. “It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Tobago-born Gordon after his historic run. For me to come here and be the first medallist, it’s a wonderful feeling. To prove myself and make my country proud is a wonderful feeling,” he said. “It was a good race. I felt I should have kicked out a little harder but I did what my coach told me to do, run my race and finished strong. I believed in myself,” he added.

Gordon was quite aware of the challenge which James brought but he was focused on one thing. “All I wanted to do was place. Come out strong and just place and that is what I did tonight. I just thank God,” added Gordon, who was born in Lowlands, Tobago, but moved to live in Queens, New York when he was 10. “I want to thank everybody who have been supporting me although I wasn’t a well-known person. Thanks.” Some 45 minutes before Gordon’s success, Jehue Gordon placed sixth in the 400m hurdles final in a time of 48.86. “It was hard. I got thrown off my race early. I went past the fellow (Jamaican Leford Greene) in lane nine and I guess I started to get a little too relaxed and when I saw the others come up on me, it took me out of my race. I wanted to go back into my pattern but it threw me off,” said a disappointed Jehue. Felix Sanchez, 34, rolled back the years to claim gold in 47.63,  eight years after clinching the title in Athens, Greece, with exactly the same time. USA’s Michael Tinsley ran second in a personal best of 47.91, while the favourite Javier Culson of Puerto Rico was third in 48.10. “I wasn’t just happy with making it into the final. It was a hard road to come here and I wanted a medal so I am going back home and even though it’s next four years, I’m going to take things one step at a time and just continue working hard,”  said Jehue on his plans for the future.

Cyclist Njisane Phillip had to settle for fourth spot in the men’s match sprint event after losing to Australia’s Shane Perkins, who claimed the bronze medal with a 2-0 victory. “I’m happy,” said Phillip, who seemed to be the crowd’s second favourite behind Kenny. “I came in performing as usual. I made a silly mistake on that last one but it is what it is,” he said. Phillip impressed from the start of the event on Saturday, knocking off New Zealand’s Edward Dawkins and German Robert Forstemann, respectively, in the opening rounds. He then eliminated European champion Denis Dmitriev of Russia in the quarter-finals on Sunday to progress to the semi-finals against Kenny. Great Britain’s Jason Kenny got the gold after completing a 2-0 victory over three-time world champion Gregory Bauge of France in the final.

Earlier in his semi-final match-up with eventual winner Kenny, Phillip suffered the same 2-0 fate. Kenny just had too much speed for the local cyclist, who is making his debut at the Olympics.

Phillip will be back in action today in the first round of the Men’s Keirin event from 5 am (T&T time). T&T’s Cleopatra Borel-Brown just missed out on qualifying for the women’s shot put final, producing a best throw of 18.36 metres to place 13th overall during the morning session on the tenth day of action. The top 12 women progressed to the final. Nine centimetres separated her and Chilean Natalie Duco, who earned the 12th spot with a throw of 18.45m. Today Kai Selvon and Semoy Hackett will continue their quest for a spot on the podium in the women’s 200-metre sprint. Both advanced yesterday, with Semoy Hackett finishing second in her heat in 22.81 and national champion Kai Selvon ran a personal best of 22.85 to qualify as one of the fastest losers. Hackett will be on the track first at 3.33 pm (T&T time) in heat two then Selvon lines up in heat three at 3.41 pm.

By Rachael Thompson-King