Trinbagonian sprinter blames tough pairings in major championships for his perenaial shortcomings

Trinbagonian sprinter blames tough pairings in major championships for his perenaial shortcomings

Mark Kinyanjui 21:00 - 29.05.2024

The male athlete blames being pitted with big names in semi-finals.

Trinidad and Tobago sprint star Jereem Richards has blamed his tendency to fall short in the finals of major 200m events on two elements of hard luck.

Richards is the reigning Commonwealth games champion in the 200 meters, but just like Kenya’s sprint sensation Ferdinand Omanyala, he has struggled to set the world alight in major events, that is the Olympic games of World Championships.

Although he won the 4 by 400m relay at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, he only has one bronze medal, which he won at the 200m race in the same event.

Richards, now 30, is aware that time is running short to leave a lasting mark in these prestigious events. 

On the Ready Set Go podcast, he discussed the obstacles he has faced, using the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon as a prime example. During that event, he was matched up against elite runners Noah Lyles and Kenny Bednarek in the semi-finals.

"As hard as you know the rain can pour, I was able to run 19.83, but people always say the Trinidad track is 19 meters long! It is exactly as long as anyone else’s track. If you can run fast there, you can run fast anywhere," Richards explained. "But you know, first round of the championships, 20.3, easy, walk in the park."

Richards elaborated on his experience in Oregon, saying, "For some reason, I always get the most stacked semi-finals, always. I had Noah and Kenny.

“ After winning my heat, I got the hardest semis on lane three, but said, 'okay, you are in shape, I can do this. Always believed in myself.' Coming off the turn, Noah was already gone, but Kenny was close to me. I was like, ‘do we really press now, because right now, we are running fast but relaxed. 

“When you are running, you are relaxed, but your legs march. You cannot press there. If you have to press a bit, it has to be in a relaxed way. I saw him pressing slightly, but thought I would catch him. I did not. I think I ran 19.86 and he ran 19.83. I was one of the slowest to qualify but I had the fourth fastest time going into the final, and again, got put in lane three again, not much you can do."

Richards also highlighted the difficulty of running from inside lanes, which can be a significant disadvantage in the 200m race.

 "The 200 is a really nice race, it is a great race but if you get lane one, two and three, you are kind of out of it," he said.

 "Going in with the fourth fastest time, I finished sixth and the time that I ran in the semi-finals would have gotten fourth in the actual final. It was just a hard pill to swallow. I did not like the lane that I got but I understood because I was one of the slowest qualifiers but I used that as motivation going into the Commonwealth Games."

Despite these challenges, Richards found motivation in his setbacks.

 "I wanted to get a medal but did not get one there, so I had to take out anyone else that came my way. I went there, got a games record, a personal best and close to a national record. The games ended well, but obviously, everyone cares about the Olympic Games and the World Championships.

“ I want to get back to that pinnacle where you can win high-quality, prestigious medals," he concluded.

As Richards continues his journey, he remains focused on achieving success at the highest levels of international competition, driven by the lessons learned and the motivation gained from his past experiences.

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