Gordon named Rookie of the Year at UTRGV

Observer West writer

Thursday, May 14, 2020

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Ackeem Gordon was surprised when he was named Rookie of the Year at the annual sports awards of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), just over a week ago.

Despite not just rewriting the UTRGV Indoors 60m record book, but ripping it to shreds in his first season at the Edinburg, Texas school, winning awards was the furthest thing from the mind of the former Cornwall College sprinter.

“Honestly, I was a bit surprised,” he told the Jamaica Observer West last week. “I know I've been working hard and everything but I always thought that I could've done more and performed better. I'm even more surprised at receiving this accolade without even competing in outdoor competitions.”

Gordon was not the Rookie of the Year for the track programme, but for the entire sports programme at UTRGV, an even bigger surprise as, according to him, it took him a while to adjust to running indoors.

The ISSA Champs semi-finalists in both the Class 1 100m and 200m in 2019, Gordon, who smashed the programme's 60m record after running 6.85 seconds in the preliminaries at the Western Athletics Conference (WAC) Indoors in February, has the top six fastest times in the school's programme.

The first time he saw an indoor track was the first time he was set to run on one, he recalled.

Winning the award, he said, was “a great honour for me because by receiving it, I know I made a lot of people proud, including myself, because out of all the athletic rookies at UTRGV, I was the one who won.”

He was disappointed by his sixth-placed finish in the 60m final at the WAC Indoors Championships, but ran a strong leg on the 4x400m relay team with a winning time of 3:17.70 seconds, that won with the fifth-fastest time in the programme's history, earning All-WAC First Team honours and Second All-WAC honours for the 60m final.

Gordon said so far, he has been making the best of his first year in South Texas.

“My first year at UTRGV has been nothing short of a wonderful experience,” he told the Observer West, citing the “peaceful environment, surrounded by people who will only push you to be your best self on and off the track”.

Having to work on weekends before leaving for Texas last August in a bid to take care of most of the costs incurred with taking up a scholarship, Gordon said adjusting to life in college was easy.

“It was not that difficult for me personally, I was already taking on adult responsibilities before I came to college. So, being away from home would not pose a challenge to me. However, I had to just adjust to the 'bipolar' weather here, and I also had to adapt to their foreign customs, policies and language [a lot of Spanish speakers].”

Despite his assault on the UTRGV record books, Gordon is a hard taskmaster, even to himself.

He believes that he had not even begun to tap into his abilities.

“Personally, I feel I haven't even brushed the surface of what I'm capable to do indoors. I felt I could have done way more. But based on the history books, it was a pretty good season indeed,” he shared.

Like most student athletes who have had good indoors, Gordon said that he had high hopes for the outdoors, that was cancelled by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was really looking forward to the Spring semester and outdoors where I was hoping to really show off what I could do. As a Jamaican, I have never ran indoors before, so the main aim from last August was to focus on what I'm already good at, and that was outdoors,” he argued.

“I felt that I was going to do extremely well. My aim was another school record in the 100m and an individual championship medal in the same event. But unfortunately my aspirations were not to bear fruit due to the cancellation of the season.”

With a year under his belt, Gordon said he will fine -tune some things, but will do what he does best.

“My goals for next year remain the same, work as hard as I can, both in the classroom and on the track, get my GPA up and also get my times down. I will put my all into any and everything I'm doing,” he stressed.

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