National Association of Athletics Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago

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Jereem Richards: Point Fortinís pride

Jelani Beckles :: Newsday :: 29.04.2018

WHEN the 2017 London IAAF World Championships began in August last year, only avid track and field fans would have known the name Jereem Richards. However, today, the Point Fortin resident, who attended Point Fortin AC and later started his track career with the Point Fortin New Jets (now the Pt Fortin Civic Centre Jets) is one of the stars of TT track and field and has won multiple medals at major international meets.

On August 10, 2017, Richards earned bronze in the men's 200m World Championships final with a time of 20.11 seconds to announce himself on the world stage. If some thought that performance was impressive, three days later he played a pivotal role in helping the TT men's 4x400m team win gold at the same meet. Richards ran a brilliant second leg to lead TT to gold in two minutes and 58.12 seconds. The quartet of Richards, Jarrin Solomon, Machel Cedenio and Lalonde Gordon created history as it was the first time TT won gold in the men's 4x400m event in an international track and field meet. Renny Quow ran the first leg in the qualifying heat and also received a gold medal.

The men's 4x400m team were recognised for their accomplishment, as the quintet won the Sportsman of the Year Award at the 2017 TT Olympic Committee Awards ceremony. It is not the norm for a relay team to win the Sportsman of the Year award, but Richards was pleased that the entire team was given the prestigious award.

After collecting the award Richards said, "I kind of expected we would have won it as a group. It was the best performance of 2017, so as a group performance, I think everyone on the team deserved it."

The accolades did not end there for Richards, as one week later the 24-year-old took home the Senior Men's Athlete of the Year Award at the 2017 National Association of Athletic Administration (NAAA) Annual Awards function. Then in March, Richards won the Sportsman of the Year Award at the First Citizens Sports Foundation Awards for his achievements.

The world also took notice in September 2017 when Richards signed a professional contract with Adidas.

In an interview with Newsday, Richards said he was thankful for the chance to be a professional athlete.

"I am really grateful to God for this opportunity. Since I started track and field it has been my dream to become a professional athlete. To actually begin my career right now I really am thankful for the opportunity that I had, and the blessings that God has bestowed upon me."

Richards said the Adidas contract will give him an extra boost in his career. "It really gives me a big boost because now I can actually pick some of the races that I would be able to run. I will be running against an elite level of athletes that are also professional."

In April 2018, when the Commonwealth Games began in Gold Coast, Australia, Richards was a known athlete and expectations were high. With his family in Point Fortin glued to the television, Richards sprinted to gold in the men's 200m final in a controversial race.

Richards initially copped silver behind Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain. However, while Hughes, Richards and third placed finisher Canadian Aaron Brown were doing a celebration lap, officials informed Hughes that he had been disqualified. Richards was struck in his face by the arm of Hughes with 30m remaining in the race, while the pair also bumped arms which made Richards stumble towards the finish line. The disqualification by Hughes meant Richards won his first individual gold medal at a major sporting event, while Brown moved up to silver and Leon Reid of Northern Ireland was bumped up to bronze.

Two days after the men's 200m event, the TT men's 4x400m team including Richards were aiming for another gold medal run.

Unfortunately, the TT quartet could not replicate their 2017 World Championships performance and finished fourth in 3:02.85.


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Jereem Richards: Point Fortinís pride
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Trinidad and Tobago's Jereem Richards runs his leg in the 4x400m relay at the Commonwealth Games in Australia earlier this month.

Newsday


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