How do you go for gold in your career? Are you a Usain Bolt, sprinting towards your goal, or do you take things at a more relaxed pace?

We are in the throes of Olympic fever. Thousands of us are flocking to Olympic venues every day, eager to get a glimpse of an aerodynamic cycle helmet whizzing by, horses’ hooves kicking up sand and sails battling it out in the water.

We’ve been screaming with joy, shouting in frustration and weeping into our super-sized cups of Olympic-sanctioned beverages.

So which athlete do you take after in your career strategy? Are fastest out of the blocks or playing the long game to get to where you want to be?

The sprinter

Are you the career equivalent of Mr Usain Bolt? Have you left others for dust and zipped to the top in record timing?

There are ways and means of pin-pointing you. You love being the centre of attention and thrive on the thrill and chase of hunting down a new account or closing a deal. You’re pretty damn cocksure, like The Bolt-ster - if you were on a starting line you’d be pulling some pretty impressive signature moves. Let’s face it, you are probably in sales.

But while the sprinters on the track find their advantage in power, being a career sprinter can be more of a tactical affair. “If you are shrewd there are certain sectors in which you can achieve a career sprint,” says Yvonne Smyth, director at Hays, a leading recruiting expert. “If you look at in-demand skills in the sector you wish to work and train up in them, you can accelerate faster than your peers.”

If you are brilliant with clients and quickly collect a bursting contacts book, you can get all of the success and glory of the 100m final.

Just be careful not to burn out.

Most likely to find you in: Sales or recruitment

The marathon runner

In certain industries and organisations in which your progression can seem more like a marathon. You work hard to put the ground work in, keep up your stamina, and through sheer resilience get to where you want eventually.

Chances are you are not a massive fan of change. You like to keep a steady pace and are quite happy waiting it out in the same company for quite some time to get to the top. You don’t like the feeling of being out of your depth and always like to have a clear schedule in front of you - ideally for the whole year.

“In some organisations and sectors, with experience comes an assumption of age. There are certain clients that expect you to have a certain number of years behind you before appearing before them. This can often be the case in professional services, in which there are rigid structures and certain gates to progress through.”

The older-style business culture that favoured marathon careers is being eroded in many industries, making this kind of career less of a necessity for many. Whether you need to wait it out your dream promotion the full length of the marathon now depends on the hierarchical nature of the company.

“In the old world (before the .com age) there was an element of needing a big of grey hair to prove you’ve gone the distance with senior people look to recruit in their own image,” explains Smyth. “Things have changed. [Now] if you have the idea and the energy to generate revenue, you will not be left slogging to get round the first corner for long.”

Most likely to find you in: Law, accountancy, medicine

The pole vaulter

You are a creation of the digital era. It used to be a rare occurrence that workers were catapulted from zero to hero overnight, but now it happens quite regularly.

Mark Zuckerberg is the ultimate example of a pole vaulter. Still in college when he started, his career as skipped the maturing process and flipped him straight into the driving seat of one of the world’s best-known companies. Not a silver hair in sight.

You are a big risk taker because you chase those high rewards. If you’re not a plucky tech entrepreneur, replete with black rimmed glasses and one really good idea, you’re probably a trader. The trading floor can make or break someone in seconds, and you have to have nerves of steel. It’s high up there at the top of that jump that you could lose it all in a moment.

Most likely to find you in: Technology, finance

The triple jumper

You have more of a segmented career, punctuated with jumps. It’s all about tactical moves at the right time to build your CV and land on the last jump, exactly where you want to be. It’s about being bold and making the right step at precisely the right time and place.

There’s a high chance you work in PR or marketing, where the average stint in any job is only a couple of years. You make swift and powerful leaps in your career and are decisive in the steps you take, landing with familiar aplomb into the next sandpit.

“We have seen increasingly across the board that in the contract between the employer and the employee, the latter says, ‘I give you X, what do you give me?’ We see much more savvy workers for whom loyalty isn’t rewarded. A generation ago loyalty would have been a sought-out trait,” says Smyth.

“Candidates are happy to hop, skip and jump as long as it demonstrates progression. Employers have to work even harder as these candidates are less risk-averse.”

Most likely to find you in: Marketing or PR

The heptathlete

You are hard to find. Being a complete all-rounder can be hard when advice tell us to specialise in order to get ahead. But some of you just can’t help being a dab hand at just about everything you turn your hands to.

It is often the case that good all-rounders still excel in certain areas, but learn fast and are open to expanding their skill base beyond what is required.

You heptathletes often make great leaders – able to manage, strategize and fight fires. You work particularly well in a start-up where pretty much anything can be thrown at you.

“These type of employees have real breadth,” says Smyth. Though she warns: “Even if you are truly multi-skilled, you have to be an expert in one thing to really stand-out. Real generalists only ally their full range of skills when they reach a leadership role.”

By Gabriella Griffith


Kirani James became a history man tonight – although he is still a teenager.

The 19-year-old from Grenada (pictured top) became the second youngest ever winner of the Olympic 400 metres title as he ended a sequence of seven victories in this event by runners from the United States.

That sequence was always going to come to an end, of course, given that, for the first time ever in a non-boycotted Games, the US did not have a single representative in the final which was won in such emphatic fashion in 1996 and 2000 by the American who still holds the world record of 43.18sec, Michael Johnson.

But even the great Johnson got a small chip taken out of him by James, as his winning time of 43.98sec – the first time a non-US teenager had beaten 44 seconds – eclipsed the world champion's UK all-comers record.

"It just shows I'm on the right track," said James, after a race which saw silver go to fellow 19-year-old Luguelin Santos – who, less than an hour earlier, had been uplifted by seeing his 35-year-old  Dominican Republic team-mate Felix Sanchez reclaim the 400m hurdles title he won at the Athens 2004 Games.

Santos, who clocked 44.46, was followed home by Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago, who recorded a personal best of 44.52 to complete a clean sweep for the smaller nations.

Grenada's population is a mere 110,000 – and James, who comes from a small fishing village, happily predicted that a good number of them might now be celebrating a victory which came a year after his startling defeat of the 2008 Olympic champion, LaShawn Merritt, to win the world title in Daegu.

"It's a huge step for my country in terms of stepping up to the plate in track and field," said James.

"This victory is putting us on the map.

"There is probably a huge street party going on right now."

There may also be a few celebrations taking place in Sunderland, where Kirani has been training in preparation for the Games in facilities organised by Britain's former world mile record holder and world 1500m champion, Steve Cram.

Merritt, who returned in 2011 from a two-year doping ban, had secured his right to run at these Games by overturning the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruling against doping offenders competing at the next Games.

However, he pulled up in the heats here with an injured hamstring.

For Sanchez, who had won 43 consecutive 400m hurdles races as he secured two world titles before claiming the 2004 Olympic crown, the effort ended in tears – a bucketful of tears, on top of the podium, after recording a time of 47.63 that matched his winning Olympic effort eight years earlier.

He revealed afterwards that he had had the word "grandmother" written on his spikes in memory of the relative who had died during Beijing 2008 and to whom he had pledged another Olympic medal.

"When I was on the podium I felt the rain falling on me like my grandmother's tears," he said poetically.

Britain's team captain and world champion Dai Greene, who had been nonplussed after only managing to qualify for the final as a fastest loser, put everything into an effort which eventually saw him finish just one place off the podium in 48.24.

Michael Tinsley of the US took silver in a personal best of 47.91, with Puerto Rico's strong favourite, Javier Culson, only managing third place in 48.10.

Sanchez is one of two athletes to have known what it feels like to be unbeatable and who were seeking to reclaim Olympic glories here.

The other was Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva, whose quest to become the first woman in Olympic history to win three straight titles in any event ultimately ended with bronze in the pole vault competition.

Jennifer Suhr of the US took gold on countback ahead of Cuba's Yarisley Silva after both had cleared 4.75 metres.

Britain's Holly Bleasdale, who has already recorded the third best indoor mark of the season with 4.87m, failed to progress beyond 4.45m and finished equal sixth.

"The weather wasn't bad," said Isinbayeva, who revealed she had suffered a muscle tear in May which had severely limited her preparations for London.

"It was terrible." 

Yuliya Zaripova of Russia earned gold in the women's 3,000m steeplechase in a personal best of 9min 06.72sec, with Tunisia's Habiba Ghribi taking silver in a national record of 9:08.37 ahead of Ethiopia's Sofia Assefa who clocked 9:09.84.

In the shot put final, Nadzeya Ostapchuk earned an emphatic victory over Valerie Adams, the New Zealander who had beaten her at the previous year's World Championships, producing four throws of over 21 metres, the best of which was 21.36.

Adams took silver with 20.70 ahead of Russia's Evgeniia Kolodko who recorded a personal best of 20.48.

By Mike Rowbottom at the Olympic Stadium in London


Something special.

That phrase seems to sum up former Trinidad and Tobago track star Ato Boldon's impression of Lalonde Gordon's Olympic bronze medal run yesterday in the 400-metre final, which produced T&T's first medal at London 2012.

Gordon and his namesake Jehue competed in the 400m and 400m hurdles events championship races, respectively, and Boldon, a former T&T double Olympic silver medallist, said he had expected a medal in one of those events.

"I went to the track [yesterday] really feeling like between Jehue and Lalonde there is no way that we weren't going to get at least one medal," Boldon told CCN TV6 last night. "So I was extremely thrilled to see Lalonde come through and finally win us a medal in that event. We haven't won one since Wendell Mottley [won silver] way back in 1964."

Boldon also said he was "excited" to see T&T earn a medal in the quarter-mile event and hopes it will inspire other Trinidad and Tobago athletes to excel over 400 metres.

"For me, this is a very exciting thing Lalonde has done," Boldon noted. "He's put himself right now [in a position] to really take this event forward. It has kind of stagnated quite honestly in Trinidad and Tobago, with the exception being Renny Quow.

"With this young man and what he's done today, I think we can really look at getting past the Ian Morris record of 44.21."

Boldon was not all pleased with T&T's showings on the track, though.

"I have been impressed in some areas and disappointed in some areas," the ex-T&T sprinter revealed. "I felt like those 100-metre guys were going to get further than they did, in particular Keston Bledman. But that's the way it goes sometimes.

"Keston…he has to pay his dues and figure out how to get to that next level in terms of a championship. It's one thing to win an invitational race."

Boldon said he was "extremely proud" of swimmer George Bovell, who finished seventh in the Men's 50m freestyle event last week, and cyclist Njisane Phillip, who in his first Olympics finished just outside the sprint medals in fourth.

And Boldon is predicting more precious metal for T&T.

"Into these Olympic Games I've been very vocal in saying I thought the men's and women's' 4x100 are our best chances of medals," he said referring to the relay squads. "That still exists, we have that extra one in the bag now, and I'm extremely thrilled that the streak (of T&T medaling since 1996) is (still) going."

Boldon added: "It's very important to keep the streak going and now that we've gotten that [first medal] out of the way, it would be nice to pick up one or two more. We've never come home with more than two medals, so I would like to see us come home with three. That would be great."

By Kern De Freitas


President of the National Associations of Athletics Administrations (NAAA), Ephraim Serrette, yesterday described Lalonde Gordon’s bronze medal success in the 400 metres at the Olympic Games as a tribute to perseverance and noted that Gordon was one of the young athletes who was never afraid to seek advise. Serrette who was present at the Olympic Stadium in London to see Gordon win T&T’s first medal, said the performance was inspirational, considering that not many gave the young Tobago athlete a chance of medalling before the Games. ”It was a wonderful performance. He has made us all very proud. He worked hard to reach where he is now and tonight he got the reward and also well rewarded us with our first medal.”  Serrette said after speaking with Hasely Crawford, who won T&T’s only Olympic gold medal, both agreed that Gordon’s semi final run put him right in line for a medal. “He was running on strong at the end of the contest and almost got the silver medal, as Santos was tiring up, it was a brave and wonderful effort. He has further raised the hearts in the camp and made us all smile again,” stated Serrette.
Gordon is the second T&T athlete to medal over 400 metres at the Olympics for T&T, following in the footsteps of Wendell Mottley, who won a silver medal in the 1964 at the Tokyo Olympics. Serrette revealed that Gordon has been around the team for the past two years and has always shown the heart and desire to succeed. “He is not afraid to listen and learn and the rest of the team get along well with him.”   He said that despite the pressure on him, Gordon rose to the occasion. “Many were talking about medals on Monday. We had none when he went out so it must have been a weight on his shoulders but he delivered. He never allowed that to bother or affect him. It was the performance of his young lifetime,” noted Serrette. Serrette was optimistic about T&T’s chances in the 4 x 400 metres relay. “Even though Renny Quow is now out of the Olympics with an injury, the other young guys like Gordon, will have been inspired by this performance and they will be ready to go after another medal in a few days time,” said Serrette.
Several of his teammates paid tribute to Gordon. Richard Thompson described him as a crazy character. “He can either run a su-44 or 45-plus. He is just so different and says all kind of things, but with good intentions. He is  very talented. We are not surprised by his performances.” His manager Dexter Voisin said the night before everyone was asking “Where this Trinidadian came from.” Voison said that after the semi finals, all of the other 400 metres runners were talking about him. “What makes LaLonde so dangerous is that he is not one of those athletes who  thinks long and hard about anything. He just goes out and does his stuff,” added Voisin. Gordon  first represented T&T at the CAC Games in 2010 but did not make it to the World Championships. He now runs for the Zenith Velocity Club of Jersey City. After winning the 400 metres at the National trials in June, when he beat Renny Quow with a storming late surge, Gordon’s time of 45.40 was not good enough to secure a place on the 400 metres individual team for London. However, he responded two weeks later in July, when he ran at a meet in Omaha, Nebraska where he won in a time of 45.02 to book his place in the team.
By Andre E Baptiste

"It's a wonderful feeling, knowing that I put my name out there. People should know who I am now."

Before the 2012 Olympic Games started, Lalonde Gordon was certainly not a household name.

That changed at the Olympic Stadium, here in London, England, last night, the 23-year-old becoming only the second athlete from Trinidad and Tobago to earn Olympic precious metal in the 400 metres event.

Gordon got home in 44.52 seconds in the men's one-lap final to secure bronze, joining 1964 silver medallist Wendell Mottley in what is now an elite club of two.

Kirani James became Grenada's first ever Olympic medallist. The 19-year-old achieved the feat in style, striking gold in a personal best 43.94 seconds, becoming the first non-American to dive under 44 seconds.

"I'm very proud for me," said James, "very proud for my country, and everyone who's affiliated to my country and me. Words can't explain. There's probably a huge street party going on right now."

Another teenager, 18-year-old world junior champion Luguelin Santos picked up silver for the Dominican Republic in 44.46.

Gordon's bronze completed a Caribbean sweep of the medals.

Gordon was drawn in lane four for the final, while James was in five. The Grenadian pulled away from Gordon on the back straight, and dominated the field coming home. Gordon, though, was strong enough towards the end of the race to battle with Santos for silver, holding off the rest of the field in the process.

"The last 60/50 metres, I knew I had it. I had the bronze medal."

Gordon told the Express he was very grateful to his coach, Trevor Green.

"Believing in God, my coach and his training—tonight it paid off. A dream come true. It's just a wonderful feeling to be an Olympic medallist."

After the race, an exhausted Gordon stooped on the track, before draping a T&T flag across his shoulders and enjoying a celebration very few had anticipated.

With his 44.52 personal best in the championship race, New York-based Gordon moved into second spot on the all-time T&T performance list.

In Sunday's semifinal round, the Lowlands, Tobago quartermiler won the opening heat in 44.58 to move into joint-third with Patrick Delice. Yesterday, he pulled away from Delice and edged past Renny Quow (44.53). Gordon now has his sights set on bettering the 44.21 seconds national record, established by Ian Morris in the semifinal round at the 1992 Olympics, in Barcelona, Spain.

"If I have any more meets after the Olympics, I hope to take it. If not, maybe next year."

Dexter Voisin, the T&T track and field manager here in London, was very pleased with Gordon's performance.

"Lalonde is an expressionless type of athlete. In his own subtle way, he would have decided to come and give 100 per cent in all rounds."

Gordon's mother, Cynthia Cupid, is also in London.

"I started crying," she told the Express.

"I know he's a great runner. He has a lot of potential. Lalonde needs a lot of support. He can get much better."

Gordon's next Olympic assignment is the 4x400m relay. The team, though, will have to do without Quow.

The 2009 World Championship bronze medallist pulled out of the individual 400m event, here in London, with a hamstring injury. He has since returned to his training base in the United States for treatment.

Though Quow's absence is a big blow to the team, Gordon is still targeting a podium finish.

"We have a good chance at medalling," he declared.

But whether or not the 4x400 men finish in the top three, Gordon will leave London with precious metal, his 400m bronze taking T&T's all-time Olympic medal tally to 15.

By Kwame Laurence


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