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Local supporters jubilant over bronze from LaLonde
Finally! They all shouted in unison as local sprinter LaLonde Gordon sparked jubilation among his countrymen when he captured the bronze medal in the men’s 400-metre final of the 2012 London Olympics yesterday. Many who gathered to watch the final at sports bars along the Western Main Road in St James had already begun to lose hope in Trinidad and Tobago’s bid for medals after a disappointing sixth-place finish by Jehue Gordon in the final of the 400-metres hurdles contested earlier yesterday. At 4.30 pm, when LaLonde’s turn came to rescue the country from leaving the 2012 Olympics in London, England, without a medal, many rose off their stools and began pleading with him through the television sets.
Dozens of optimists gathered at the Universal Sports Bar and began shouting, “You are our only hope, please give us something.” It became a noisy afternoon as shouts could be heard from surrounding bars, as fans cheered on the 23-year-old, who was ranked 34th in the world by All-Athletic.com. But it was as if Gordon could hear his supporters back in Trinidad and Tobago, and with long strides, he came from sixth position to finish in third place behind Grenada’s Kirani James, who copped the gold, and the Dominican Republic's Luguelin Santos, who took silver. One viewer, Stuart Matthews, who was very vocal throughout the event, shouted, “I feel great about this. He ran true to his form and he deserved it.” Courtney Contaste said, “LaLonde ran with his heart pumping the blood of Trinidad and Tobago.” Anthony Martin, who described himself as a sports enthusiast, cheered up after being disappointed by Jehue Gordon and cyclist Njisane Phillip (fourth in the match-sprint yesterday). “Well, I can smile now. We have gotten something and we won’t leave empty-handed,” he said.
But he was critical of sports in this country, after George Bovell III, Njisane Phillip and Kelly-Ann Baptiste did not rank among the medallists. He said the Government needed to raise the level of sports. “Last Olympics we came out with medals, what is wrong now?” he asked. “We have to go back to the drawing board as a country and see what we can do to raise our standards. We should take some pattern from Jamaica because it is not like we don’t have talent.” Martin said the Government should pump more funds into sports so that athletes can have world-class facilities to train in, and that competitions should have increased prizes so that athletes can actually have a career in sports. Patrons celebrating Gordon’s achievement also praised James, who at 19 has won Grenada’s first Olympic medal.
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