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Sprinter Richards impress with T&T Carifta efforts
T&T's Keeran Sriskandarajah the Boys' U-17 1,500 metres gold medallist and 800 metres silver medallist at the 49th Carifta Games which concluded in Kingston, Jamaica on Monday. - PAUL VOISIN

Sprinter Richards impress with T&T Carifta efforts

Go Back : Guardian : Rachael Thompson-King : 20.04.2022

T&T's star athlete Jereem Richards sees a bright future for local track and field athletes following their 23-medal winning performance at the 49th Carifta Games which ended on Monday in Kingston, Jamaica.

This country's medal haul included two gold medals, 11 silver and 10 bronze which earned them the fourth place on the table, one spot down from its third-place finish when the region's premier track and field meet was last held in 2019. Then, T&T won 24 medals (5 gold, 7 silver, 12 bronze).

"I think actually it wasn't bad," said Richards, yesterday. "I saw some young athletes step to the plate, step to the table and were able to perform at a high level. It gave me a lot of hope in terms of the younger generation coming forward."

Richards shared that he was very impressed by some of the performances.

"Obviously, the high jump and the 1,500m but me, I'm a 4x400m runner, so I was very impressed by the two boys Under-17 and U-20 4x400m relay teams. They did exceptionally. I saw that they put everything out there and was able to perform at a high level."

On the opening day of the three-day meet which was absent for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keeran Sriskandarajah and Aaron Antoine picked up gold medals. Sriskandarajah reached the top of the podium in the boys' U-17 1,500m and later Saturday, Antoine bested the high jump event.

It was on the final day, the 4x400m teams which Richards referred to, shined, copping silver in their respective finals. In both instances, the Jamaican teams prevailed.

Richards said, "With the young (Dylan) Woodruffe, I would say I saw a lot of experience and maturity the move that he made on the home straight most inexperienced people might try to go out and pass on the outside and he waited, very experienced, to run on the inside when he saw that opening. It just got me excited for somebody that young to be able to make a move like that with such experience and maturity.

"Also with Cyril (Sumner), I saw the fight in him. He fight just to make sure we were able to get a medal and he actually gave us a chance that might have been able to be a gold medal but he fight straight through the line and was still able to produce a silver medal."

At present, he is not sure if any of them can make it to the World Athletics Championships (July 15-24) of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in England (July 28-August 8), but he sees promise in the upcoming track and field stars.

"I hope so but they definitely ignited that flame of hope inside me that the younger generation will be ready when its time because they showed a lot of potential, they showed a lot of grit and they showed the ability to rise to the occasion at a high-level competition," said Richards, who expressed the need for the annual regional meet which takes place over the Easter weekend.

"It's very important, these Games are fundamental, like a stepping stone on the way to become a senior athlete, a world champion, an Olympic champion. The things that you learn the lessons that you learn from winning or losing all these things add up on the journey to become a champion so Carifta Games is very, very important."

He left a message for the younger generation, saying: "I would say to the younger athletes, especially the ones maybe wasn't able to perform as well as they would have liked to, don't take a loss as something bad. Use this as an opportunity to become the best athlete you could ever become, learn from your mistakes, learn from your experiences so that the next time you are given the opportunity you've been there and done that before, so now you can rise to the occasion and produce some best performances than they've ever produced before."

Jamaica again dominated the Games with a tally of 92 medals - 45 gold, 29 silver and 18 bronze. In second place was the Bahamas with 17 medals (4 gold, 6 silver, 7 bronze) while the British Virgin Islands (BVI) was third with seven medals (4 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze), followed by T&T in fourth and Guyana filling the fifth spot with seven medals (2 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze).

"For the most part I'm satisfied especially not being able to compete in the Carifta Games for two years having to struggle with COVID and being able to train and all these things being impeded I think they did their best," said Richards, who on the weekend won the men's 200m at the UF Tom Jones Memorial in Gainsville, Florida, USA.