Read the amazing story of Trinidad & Tobago’s Jehue Gordon, the 400m hurdler who used adversity to fuel his desire to become champion of the world.

Winning 400m hurdles gold in Moscow is a moment that Jehue Gordon, 21, will never forget.

“We dream about it. We train hard, and we make all the sacrifices… and to actually see yourself on the podium, to actually see yourself being called world champion. For me it was a wow and a OMG moment. Oh my gosh.”

Gordon first made his imprint on the world stage aged just 17, producing an incredible race to finish fourth at the Berlin 2009 World Championships.

But the foundations of Gordon’s success were actually laid a year earlier, in 2008. It was an tough period for the young Trinidadian, but one that would define his destiny.

“At 16 years old, I went to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games to watch it, right. And after I came back, my house was destroyed by a landslide.

“Since then, things went a bit downhill for my family financially. My father, he is an alcoholic. Things weren’t stable at home, so I had to set my eyes on something to help my family get out of this situation.

“The friends I had, they have supported me and they have been genuinely there for me since then. And I always make reference to them. Because it wasn’t easy for me, I had to know what I was all about. I had to be more disciplined than a regular 16-year-old.

"I had to know what I wanted, and where I wanted to go.”

One month prior to visiting Beijing, Gordon had travelled to Poland to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the world junior champs. He failed to make the final, and the experience still rankles.

“I was not able to make the final because of Jeshua Anderson, Jonny Dutch, Amarurys Valle… Because of them!” says Gordon, half-joking in his deadpan Trinidadian tone.  

It’s worth noting that Gordon was still six months shy of his 17th birthday when he lost in Poland. Junior gold and silver medallists Anderson and Dutch from the USA were both 19, and Cuban bronze medallist Amarurys Valle was 18.

The fact it still bothers him only serves to underline his incredible competitive spirit. He travelled to the senior world championships in Berlin one year later, fearing no-one.

He ran a national record in his heat, and again in the final. At just 17, Gordon finished just 0.03 seconds off a world bronze medal.

“In 2009, I was running just like a rabbit out of one of them hutches. I had the talent, it was natural to me. But I wasn’t really focusing on all the technical aspects of the 400m hurdles. You could say I was running from police.” 

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"Running from police" – Gordon, 17, competes at the Berlin 2009 World Championships

Ever the competitor, Gordon insisted on then winning the world junior title he had missed out on in 2008. 

“I made up my mind. I was like, ‘you know what, Jehue? You need to prove yourself. You need to go up in the world junior championship finals and bring it home for Trinidad and Tobago.’

He did just that, winning 2010 world junior gold in Moncton, Canada, in a final that also featured Serbia’s current world bronze medallist Emir Berkic. 

“I continued training hard. I kept my eyes on the prize. I limited the distractions, because Trinidad, home, is not easy,” he says.

“A lot of people come towards you to try and reap the potential. And when I say reap, I don’t necessarily mean it in a bad way, but in track and field we call it wagoners. Bandwagoners.” 

In 2010, Gordon’s progress was slowed by a foot infection, following minor surgery on the sole of his foot.

“That kind of set me back coming into 2011. I wasn’t able to execute the year the way I was supposed to. A lot of people were like: ‘hey, what’s going on with Jehue? He showed so much promise in 2009 and 2010. What happened?’

“But that phase was still a learning phase for me. The 400m hurdles is not something you can easily understand. It’s about rhythm. 

“Sometimes you might be faster, sometimes you might be stronger but it still doesn’t add up at the end of the day if you don’t put your strides together in between the hurdles.

“From 2009 up until now, it’s still a learning process for me,”

After an encouraging sixth place at the London 2012 Olympics, Gordon returned in 2013 capable of making his mark on the world stage.

And he did so in dramatic circumstances. In Moscow, the world 400m hurdles final could not have been closer. The race finished with two men, Gordon and the USA’s Michael Tinsley, lying flat out on the track.

They had just produced a thrilling photo finish, with the two fastest times in the world this year, and no-one in the Luzhniki Stadium had a clue who had won.

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All on the line: Michael Tinsley (lane three) and Jehue Gordon (lane six) slug it out for gold in Moscow

“I’ve never had such a dramatic finish before,” says Gordon. “I could see Michael Tinsley in the periphery, but for some reason my eyes just focused on my lane.

“So the last few steps, you see all the guts that I had. The last few steps, my heart jumped across the line before my body actually crossed!”