Jehue Brings Roof Down at QRC

World champion 400-metre hurdler Jehue Gordon is no stranger to cheers, applause and accolades for his athletic feats. But he stirred athletes, academics and well-wishers at his alma mater Queen’s Royal College in St Clair, Port-of-Spain, even further on Wednesday when he announced: “I take my education seriously, especially since this is my final semester at the University of the West Indies (St Augustine Campus), before I graduate. Just to let you know that I have completed my last bit of courses at the University and I’m on the verge of graduating with first class honours in sports management.”

Thunderous applause filled the auditorium of the college and it felt as though it blew off the roof.

Delivering the feature address at the school’s sports and co-curricular awards ceremony, Gordon saluted the faculty for moulding him into the man he was.

He described as exemplary the decision of the school’s administration to honour their athletes at this early stage in their lives, citing that they were blessed with talent.

Gordon said with the talents came the means for a better future.

He said, “My days at QRC were full of experiences from selling goods in school–I don’t know if some of you remember me selling Fanta and cake from PriceSmart to raise money–to lining up 15 hours before they started serving the box lunch or giving occasional trouble to my form teacher. I don’t know of anyone who can look back at their days here and not find something memorable out of it. When you are out of school, though, you would cherish the moments when your teacher would be behind you to get your project submitted on time or even to arrive early to class.”

Gordon said children at this stage of their educational lives usually took the genuine interest teachers had in their well-being for granted, because high school students had no worries.

“Your parents are still ironing, cooking, they cleaning and some still choosing your underwear. Once high school finishes, here is where the man is separated from the boy. I remember this student who just entered UWI coming to me and asking how you manage. He was accustomed to being spoon fed in high school and the teachers always behind him seeking his best interest. However, when he entered university, the teachers were not teaching in class. They came to school and spoke about the relevant topic and you had to make sense out of non-sense,” Gordon related.

He added, “Nobody is on your back to hand in projects. Nobody is telling you which activities to partake in and when is time for bed. I said yes! It has already started. The outside world is no easy road. It’s either you eat or be eaten. That is as real as it is. No one is going to give you anything. You have to work hard for what you want and prove to people that you deserve it.”

It was for that reason he declared that QRC was one of the finest all-round institutions in the Caribbean which was evident by the fact that it produced leaders such as the late Dr Eric Williams, the first prime minister of T&T, celebrated Carnival designer and bandleader Peter Minshall and more recently double silver medallists at the Olympic Games Richard Thompson. “They all started where you are now and that says something. You have what is takes to be the future leaders in whatever you may choose,” he said.

Gordon opened up about a tragedy that befell him and his family. That incident was the destruction of his family home due to a land slide.

He was still a student at the school in form five and the first question that crossed his mind was, “what could I have done to deserve this?”

His home was already structurally unstable and his parents were not rich.

The event occurred as Gordon was rising in the world of athletics. He admitted to being embarrassed by the disaster that had struck his family.

“I did not want to own up to the short comings of my family and accept it, thinking that people would belittle me. But because of my desire to remove myself from this situation, I made a stance to use my talents as a means of escape. After sticking to the path, the following year, I broke onto the international circuit, placing fourth at the World Championships, setting a world age best at 17 years. This later provided an opportunity where I was afforded scholarships and even the opportunity to become a professional athlete. I didn’t rush to make a decision as it would affect my life onwards,” he said.

Gordon added, “Luckily enough, I had a successful group of people around me who looked after my best interest, showed me the way and guided me in the right direction. I was the one, however, who had to make that decision. I then decided I would turn a professional athlete and pursue my degree full-time.”

On his decision to localise both his training and education, the champion hurdler said, many had and continue to question his decision to remain on local soil in his pursuit of world athletic excellence.

To that he responded, “We always feel as if we are not worthy enough and what is outside is always better. Does everyone at a high position in the country have a degree from (foreign) universities? There are institutions here that are recognised that provide the same level of academic fortitude as other foreign-based institutions. Why would I at such a young age of 17, rush into something that I wasn’t ready for? I for one can say that my mom was still doing everything for me at that age, and I wasn’t ready to let go of her amazing cooking; especially that macaroni pie on a Sunday,” he said, chuckling. (Courtesy Guardian Trinidad)