Gordon blasts hat-trick as Jamaica romp to football gold

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Damion Gordon hit a hat-trick yesterday to lead Jamaica to a 3-0 win over Austria in the Division Two gold medal football match at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

In sunny conditions at Zayed Sports City, Gordon, who has a hearing disability, scored two headed goals in the first half of the 60-minute encounter, and added a late third with his right foot to seal the win.

“It was a good game, my hats off to the Jamaican team. We planned for this Austrian team, we did our homework and knew they played a lot of diagonal passes,” Head Coach Shane Richards told the Jamaica Observer during a post-game interview.

“We have speed and we knew their back four [players] were slow. Congrats to Damion for scoring three goals, a standout player for us.”

The unified Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) football team could not have asked for a better start when Lance Rutherford's free kick was fumbled by Austria keeper Raphael Brantner, and Gordon was on hand to nod home from a yard out.

Jamaica thoroughly dominated the first 30 minutes but oftentimes failed to find the clinical touch. During that time, the European side hardly entered their half, and did not threaten their goal.

The SOJ footballers finally secured a cushion when Gordon rose highest in the 18-yard box to head in from Captain Moran Singh's corner kick on the stroke of half-time.

It was all about game management from there on for the Jamaicans, as Austria desperately sought a comeback. The Austrians' hopes were dashed when Gordon capped off a fine afternoon with a close-range finish moments before the final whistle.

There was a scare for Jamaica when Jeovani Nelson went down in agony after receiving a high boot in the shin area. However, word from the coaching staff late yesterday was that he had escaped serious injury.

In other team sports at Abu Dhabu National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) yesterday, unified basketball and male volleyball both won gold, while bocce claimed bronze in doubles action thanks to Delroy Sullivan and Pamela Brown.

Bocce, a sport said to be of Italian origin, is played by using an underarm action to bowl a ball at a target. Points are determined by the ball's proximity to the target.

The basketball team, coached by Nagash Cockburn, survived tense moments to register a 29-25 victory over Saudi Arabia in the six-minute-per-quarter game.

“I'm speechless… emotions were high, but they kept it together and they did what they had to do to get the job done,” Cockburn told the Observer.

There were nervous exchanges — typified by missed open shots and plenty turnovers — from both teams at the start, and that continued throughout the game as neither offence got into a rhythm.

At the end of a patchy first quarter, Saudi Arabia eked out a 5-4 advantage, but Jamaica came back stronger in the second quarter to take a 15-10 lead at the half.

The SOJ team's offence hit a snag in the third quarter and the Saudis were able to claw back to 21-21 and set up a frenetic fourth quarter.

However, Jamaica's players kept their composure for a four-point win to seal the Division Two gold.

In another exciting affair, the male volleyball team needed three sets to earn a come-from-behind 20-25, 25-15, 15-10 victory over their counterparts from Japan on the final day of competition at the Summer Games.

Jamaica won 33 medals in the United Arab Emirates to beat their haul at the 2015 Los Angeles Games by four.

The medal number in 2019 includes 15 gold, 10 silver and eight bronze.

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