Nigerian sprinter Samuel Ogazi saw his dream come true on Friday as he got the opportunity to speak to his idol Jereem "The Dream" Richards. Ogazi, 17, is in TT to compete at the Commonwealth Youth Games, which opened on Friday.
Ogazi, similar to Richards, runs the 200m and 400m events. Earlier this year, Ogazi won the 400m final at the inaugural Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Golden League in 45.91 seconds. He was the flagbearer for the Nigerian contingent at the Commonwealth Youth Games opening ceremony.
In an interview with Newsday on Sunday, Richards said he was able to speak to Ogazi through mutual friend Roland Hamilton, whom the Nigerian had met while staying at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.
In a Facebook post which has gone viral, Hamilton, personal trainer and owner of Fit Doc, said he ran into Ogazi at the hotel and asked him if he knew Richards.
The two-time World Championship medallist regularly trains with Fit Doc during the offseason to maintain his sharpness, but Hamilton downplayed the closeness of their relationship. Ogazi told Hamilton that even though he had never met Richards he was his idol and mentor, and he wanted to follow in his footsteps and attend the University of Alabama.
While on the way to the Hasely Crawford Stadium for the opening ceremony, Ogazi sat next to Hamilton, who began messaging Richards.
The TT sprinter, who had just completed a workout, asked Hamilton if Ogazi was close by, and immediately made a video call when he replied in the affirmative.
Richards said, "He was real elated and surprised that he got to speak to me. I wished him all the best at Games and hope he really enjoys TT and all the best we have to offer. I told him I am hoping to hear and see good things of him on his athletic journey."
Richards said he appreciated the magnitude these interactions can have on a young athlete.
The way I think about things as an athlete, I would have loved athletes who I looked up to, to have the time or way to see a message from me and get that type of guidance. I wanna do that for the next generation.
He said it was important as athletes to keep setting a high standard.
"You never know who is watching. This is someone from Nigeria, on the continent of Africa, who is looking up to an athlete from TT.
As much as it meant a lot him, it meant a lot to me as a representative of TT."""
Hamilton said Richards also followed Ogazi on Instagram adding, "Often we take those little things for granted...If Jereem wasn't so humble it would've never been possible...you're an amazing human being bro."