TRINIDAD and Tobago men’s 4x400-metre relay team saved the best for last yesterday as they captured gold in the final event, at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, England.
The quartet of Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio and Lalonde Gordon brought joy to the hearts of the twin-island republic as they emerged victorious, over the highly-fancied United States and hosts Great Britain/Northern Ireland, in a time of two minutes 58.12 seconds – the fastest time in the world this year and a new TT record.
The 31-year-old American- born Solomon replaced Renny Quow – who was involved in the preliminary round on Saturday – for the first leg, and the member of the 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal 4x400m relay team had a steady run before handing off to Richards.
The 22-year-old Richards, bronze medallist at the World Champs on Thursday, had a magnificent second leg as TT moved up to second place, at the halfway point of the race.
Cedenio, the 21-year-old national quarter-mile champion, atoned for a sub-par showing in the men’s 400m days earlier, with a fine run as he managed to hold off Great Britain/Northern Ireland’s third leg runner Rabah Yousif to keep within touching distance of the US’ Michael Cherry. It looked almost a certainty at that time that TT will earn a medal, but what colour? Lalonde Gordon, double Olympic bronze medallist at the London venue five years ago, had it all to do but managed to keep pace with US’ Fred Kerley for most of the final leg.
However, with Kerley slowing up in the final 50 metres, the 28-year-old Gordon produced a burst of energy to overtake the American and seal the deal for the national foursome. The United States placed second in 2:58.61, with Great Britain/Northern Ireland third in 2:59.00. Belgium was fourth in 3:00.04, followed by Spain (3:00.65), Cuba (3:01.10), Poland (3:01.59) and France (3:01.79).
In a post-race interview, Cedenio said, “This means the world to everyone on the team.
We worked so hard throughout the year, everybody ran so good. We came out here to execute and that’s what we did.” Solomon admitted that he envisioned a medal for TT in this event.
“We talked about it before and we said we could win this,” Solomon noted. “Everybody (did) their part and we told Gordon, ‘stayed right on Kerley’s tail’, as we knew it would have come down to that. And he kicked past him.
“So it’s especially sweet for us this year because a lot of us were dealing with injuries and stuff this year,” Solomon continued.
“To come back here and get a gold medal and a national record to boot was a great way to cap it off. God is good.” Asked about the secret to the team’s success, Richards replied, “We had a really good prayer before the race. God really played a big part in this victory.
“For a while now, people have been saying Trinidad and Tobago is one of the teams who can upset the USA in the 4x4 and to actually achieve it right now, I don’t even believe it’s real right now. It’s just a great feeling.” Gordon confessed that he was still in shock over the team’s achievement. “I like to say I’m going for a top three (finish) because if you set your mind on one thing and you don’t get it, it’s like you’re letting yourself down. But I’m still in shock.” Richards, the double World Champs medallist, described his time in London as “wonderful.” He noted, “It’s one of my best achievement in track and field and, to bring gold to Trinidad and Tobago and having our Independence coming up (August 31), I want to say happy early Independence Day to Trinidad and Tobago and this medal is for you all.”