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Richards requests anthem on steel after 200m repeat
Jereem Richards of T&T, centre, wins the men's 200m finals in a time of 19.80 seconds ahead of England's Zharnel Hughes in 20.12, right, and Joseph Amoah of Ghana (20.19) in the Alexander Stadium at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, yesterday.

Richards requests anthem on steel after 200m repeat


Go Back : Guardian : WALTER ALIBEY : 07.08.2022

At 5 o'clock this morning, the national anthem can be heard on the steelpan in Birmingham, England, if sprinter Jereem 'The Dream' Richards has his way.

The honour of this request came after he shattered the 200 metres Commonwealth Games record on his way to a successful defence of a title he won back in 2018. Following the disappointment of the IAAF World Athletics Championships, in Eugene, Oregon, United States where he placed sixth in the 200-metre final last month, Richards shook off the negativity of that finish to produce a blistering run in the half-lap event final to cross the finish line in a personal best time of 19.80 seconds, with a surprising distance from his closest rival Zharnel Hughes of England who had been tipped as the favourite to win the race.

Richards was out of the blocks in a flash and delivered a constant pace on the bend before accelerating to unimaginable speed ahead of the field in the final 60 metres. Ê

After the race, Richards said he had been on a mission throughout the Games and wanted to deliver on his coach's instruction to drop the hammer in the final.

"I've been on a mission. I was very conservative throughout the rounds and I just wanted to make a statement.

"My coach tell meÊto drop the hammer in the final and that's just what I wanted to do, just drop the hammer," Richards said.

His 19.80 was well ahead of second-place Hughes, who crossed the finish in a time of 20.12, a season's best time that sealed the silver medal while Ghanaian Joseph Paul Amoah (20.49) took the bronze and Emmanuel Eseme of Cameroon the fourth-place finish.

The 28-year-old Point Fortin native has now broken the Commonwealth Games record that was set by Namibian Frankie Fredericks in Stuttgart in 1994 in a time of 19.97. Still, however, he remains in the shadows of former sprinter Ato Boldon whose 19.77 still holds as the national 200 metres record, that was set back in Stuttgart, Germany in 1997.

Richards said while he wants to break that record, it will come in God's timing.

"Everybody helped me out this year, I had a big support team, my family, my friends, but in terms of the start, I've been working on it for a while now and now I have the confidence and the ability to do it."

"It (Boldon's record) could be gone this season, I still have a few more meets to go but the main focus is to keep on running fast and staying healthy. I want to get the record but it's not my main focus, it will come when it's time to come," Richards noted.

According to Richards: "It definitely does make up a lot. To leave here with a personal best, so close to the national record once again, I will take it down sometime, God's timing is the best timing.

"I am just happy the two major meets for the season are done. Mentally, a big weight has come off my chest - World Championships finish, Commonwealth Games finish, job done both ways and I am happy, praise God," said Richards, who recognised his late former teammate quartermiler Deon Lendore.

"I know Deon Lendore is smiling right now. I have one request if anybody can hear me, I would love to hear the National Anthem in the steelpan rendition, I would love to hear that one. If I can get it in the morning in the steelpan rendition, that will make my day," Richards concluded.

Richards' gold medal will add to the gold, silver and bronze medals won by cyclist Nicholas Paul in the keirin, match-sprint and kilometre time trial recently.Ê

4x100m relay men, women into final

T&T's 4x100 metres men's and women's relay teams earned places in the final on the penultimate day.

The men's quartet of Jerod Elcock, Eric Harrison Jr, Kion Benjamin and Akani Hislop, running in that order, produced a season's best time of 38.84 seconds for automatic qualification in second position, but the women's team squeezed in as one of the two fastest non-automatic qualifiers after finishing fourth in heat two in 43.48 seconds.

That team was led by Michelle-Lee Ahye, the dethroned Commonwealth Games 100m champion who failed to make it to the final on Wednesday afternoon, along with Khalifa St Fort, Mauricia Prieto and Akilah Lewis.

The men, contesting heat one of the preliminaries, were led-off by Elcock, whose sixth-place finish in the men's 100 metres, prevented him from securing a semifinal berth at the World Championships in Oregon, and concluded by Hislop, the Tobagonian who had his first taste of Olympic Games action when he was chosen for the T&T's 4x100m relay team in Tokyo, Japan.

After a well-executed race in lane five, however, the T&T team crossed the line behind England's foursome of Jona Efoloko, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Ojie Edoburun, sealing the win and a passage through to the final in a season's best time of 38.48 seconds.

They led a list of four qualifiers from the race, alongside third-place Guyana in 39.82, which was a season's best for the quartet of Akeem Stewart, Emmanuel Archibald, Arinze Chance and Nielex Holder; and fourth-place Singapore (Marc Brian Louis, Joshua Hanwei Chua, Xander Ann Heng Ho, Ian Koe) crossing the finish line in 39.95 seconds and taking one of two fastest qualifying spots.

The T&T men will run out of lane five in today's final at 7.40 am (T&T time) in a field that includes St Lucia, Singapore, England, Nigeria, Kenya, Guyana and Gambia.

In the women's medal race, T&T also shone brightly in a heat that saw five of the six competing teams qualifying for the final today at 7.54 am. Led off by St Fort in lane four, the T&T team produced a season's best 43.48 to secure qualification, but they had to settle behind the eventual winner Nigeria (Joy Chinenye Udo Gabriel, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma and Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha) in 42.57, second-place England (Asha Philip, Imani Lansiquot, Bianca Williams, Ashleigh Nelson) in a season's best 42.72 and third, Australia (Mia Gross, Bree Masters, Jacinta Beechier, Naa Anang) in 43.47.

The Ghanaian quartet of Mary Boakye, Latifa Ali, Gifty Kwakyewaa Oku and Halutie Hor was the other qualifier from the race after they crossed the finish line in 44.32.

The T&T women will be in lane two for today's finale, which will also consist of Ghana, Nigeria, England, regional rival Jamaica, India, Australia and Scotland.

Also in action today, the final day of action in the Birmingham 2022, will be two-time Olympic medallist Keshorn Walcott in the men's javelin event from 2.40 pm while earlier Tyra Gittens will chase a spot on the podium in the women's long jump final from 2.05 pm.

Walcott will face off against a tough field which include World champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, India pair DP Manu and Rohit Yadav, Kenyans Alex Kiprotich and Julius Yego, Arshad Nadeem of Pakistan, Sumedha Ranasinghe (Sri Lanka), Chinecherem Nnamdi (Nigeria), Cameron McEntyre (Australia), Joe Harris (Isle of Man), Donny Tuimaseve (Samoa) and Lakona Gerega (Papua New Guinea).

Gittens will take on former Texas A&M teammate Deborah Acquah of Ghana, Caribbean neighbour Ackelia Smith of Jamaica, Sri Lankan Lakshini Sandaradura, Englishwomen Jasmine Sawyers, Lorraine Ugen and Abigail Irozuru, Australian duo Samantha Dale and Brooke Buschkuehl, Cypress' Filippa Fotopoulou, Nigerian pair Ruth Usoro and Ese Brume and Christabel Nettey (Canada).