- Associated Press - Thursday, April 12, 2018

GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) - Kyron McMaster had the message inked onto his arm, not that he needed any reminding of the coach to whom he was dedicating the British Virgin Islands first major international medal.

McMaster won the 400-meter hurdles gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday night, saying it was the first major medal of any kind for the British Virgin Islands.

One thing he got from Xavier “Dag” Samuels in the seven years they worked together was guidance. So after Samuels died last year in Hurricane Irma that devastated their home country, McMaster had the word tattooed on to his left biceps.

He also wears a wristband with the word clearly marked on it on his right arm, just for reinforcement.

“Tonight the gold meant a lot to the country, but I did what my coach would have wanted me to, go out there and run my race,” McMaster said. “He’s with me everywhere I go with the band and the tattoo on my arm.

“So today I came out here and had fun like he always would also tell me before my race - ‘Enjoy the moment, don’t pressure yourself in the race.’”

McMaster posted three of the four fastest times in the grueling 400 hurdles in 2017, and was the only runner to go under 48 seconds in the season when he ran a 47.80 in Jamaica.

But he got nothing from the world championships in London, disqualified in his heat for running on the line that marked the limits of his lane. He put it behind him to close the season with a win in the IAAF’s Diamond League in Zurich.

McMaster was never really threatened on the Gold Coast, winning in 48.25 from Jeffrey Gibson of the Bahamas and Jaheel Hyde of Jamaica.

“It’s the first medal for the British Virgin Islands at any games so I’m pretty happy for that,” he said.

He said the world championships “wasn’t my time,” but he’d used it as motivation and moved on.

McMaster, who now trains at Clemson under coach Lennox Graham, also used the experience of surviving the hurricane as something to learn from. Life’s short.

“For me it was coming to an experience and actually knowing not to take life for granted because at any moment stuff could happen, he said. “For me to be in stuff like that, and then my coach, for me to come out here and do this today it shows a lot. Every opportunity go out there like it’s your last.”

More than 100 people in the Caribbean and the U.S. were killed either when Irma hit or in its wake last September, and millions of people were told to evacuate.

The people of the British Virgin Islands were out as soon as it was safe starting the rebuilding, and McMaster dedicated his medal to them as well as his former coach.

“The BVI is a small place. Of course, from the day after the hurricane everyone was out there moving branches, rocks …,” he said. “We aren’t totally wiped as everything thinks. We’re in the process of building back. It’s still a great country.”

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