Jereem chases childhood goal at Paris Olympics

Jereem Richards. - AP PHOTO
Jereem Richards. - AP PHOTO

Ace Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Jereem Richards says he wants to fulfil his childhood dream of capturing an Olympic medal when he turns out for team Trinidad and Tobago at this year's Olympic Games in Paris, France, from July 26-August 11.

Richards, 30, is a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, while he also ascended to the top of the world when he claimed first spot in the 400-metre event at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Serbia in 2022.

On May 5 at the World Athletics Relay championship in the Bahamas, the 200m specialist teamed up with the trio of Asa Guevara, Che Lara and Shakeem McKay to seal 2024 Olympic qualification for TT in the men's 4x400m event. Richards ran a blistering second leg to help TT grab second spot in their second qualifying heat.

TT's 4x100m women's team also sealed their Paris qualification at the World Relays.

Speaking in an 11-minute World Athletics documentary video titled Small Islands, Big Dreams, the Pt Fortin native explained his burning desire to medal at the 33rd edition of the Summer Olympics.

"I'm really excited for this Olympics because I think with all the years of experience and how training has been going, what is expected of myself this year, I really think I have a shot of doing something special and I'll continue to work and achieve my goals," Richards said, in the video which was published on May 17.

"This has been my dream to be an Olympic medallist from the first day I started running track and field. I'm just excited to go through the cycle this year and see how it turns out in Paris."

Richards said he has never raced in Paris, but he believes the stars will align for him to get the podium finish he so desires.

At the Tokyo Olympic Games, Richards made it to the 200m final in a high-quality field. He couldn't quite hit the straps needed to feature among the medal chasers, though, and he finished eighth in 20.39 seconds – well outside his personal best clocking of 19.80.

Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse took gold in a blistering 19.62, while the US pair of Kenny Bednarek and Noah Lyles were second and third respectively with 19.68 and 19.74 clockings. Lyles won both the 100m and 200m crowns at the World Championships in Hungary last year.

At those World Championships, Richards made it to the semifinals of the 400m event, while a similar fate followed at the March 2024 World Indoor Championships in Scotland when the sprinter's 400m title defence came up short.

With the Paris Olympics just over two months away, Richards, fondly known as "The Dream," says don't write him off just yet.

"I'm really excited and I think my entire life journey builds up to this moment. That makes it important for me," a brimming Richards said.

"Getting the opportunity now to compete in Paris and show my family, my friends and my country what I have to offer is going to be really special. Most importantly, I'd say to achieve my childhood dreams is what would be important for me."

Richards said the most integral thing for him in his career has been the appreciation for balance in both his track and field and personal life. He said it has helped him to work through bad days, which also adds the fuel to the drive which pushes him toward greater consistency – a consistency he hopes to yield more success from.

"I try to get better at the things I'm already good at, and I try to work hard and get better at the things I'm weak at. Also, it's about trying to find that fine line and that balance in between."

The Point Fortin native is more prepared for the big moment.

"I have a lot of experience under my belt now. With age comes knowledge, and I'm now able to use my past experiences as fuel in the tank and knowledge gained to go forward throughout the season."

Richards said he once struggled with his confidence on the track. But now, he's more focused than ever before and he's ready to fulfil those boyhood dreams.

"Use every negative thing to make you work towards something positive. Never give up on your dreams. Regardless of the situation, stay as consistent as you could to achieve your goals."


"Jereem chases childhood goal at Paris Olympics"

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