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Richards gives Point golden smile
Ecstatic over Jereem "The Dream" Richards' gold medal at yesterday’s 200-metre sprint final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia, Point Fortin residents are calling on Government to honour their hero by improving on the dilapidated and incomplete sporting facilities in their borough.
Leading the charge yesterday was Richards’ mother Yvette Wilson, who told the Guardian Media Sports that if such an investment was made in the lives of the youth of the borough, it would expose the vast talents that are hidden. Wilson, her eldest son, Kevon Jack and other relatives wore printed T-shirts in support of Richards as they worked and celebrated at Wilson's food outlet, Yvette's Delicious Delights in Point Fortin, yesterday.
"Two years ago, he was not even on the radar, but he has been consistently there all the time. Somehow, you have to win something in order to be recognised. There are a lot of stuff to be done for track and field still. For instance, people don't fill the stadiums when there are track and field meets here. More work also needs to be done on the training and upbringing of the youths because there is a lot of talent. Because of financial difficulties, many don't reach anywhere. For instance, there are no facilities in Point Fortin, so a lot of talent goes to waste, Wilson explained.
She said Richards ran for the Point Fortin Anglican Primary School before moving onto the Civic Centre Jets, but wasn't reaching anywhere because there were no proper training facilities anywhere in Point Fortin. In order to advance his training, he had to leave Point Fortin to train with the Quantum club at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella. She said within three months of training on a track, Richards improved to the point where he began to represent the country at regional games.
The Point Fortin Oval where many sporting talents were nurtured has been under renovation for more than five years. Coronation Park and James Park, the other recreation grounds, are also unfit for training. Wilson said Richards would go as far as Arima to train.
"There are potholes and cow hole in James Park (Point Fortin) and when they use to train, cows used to be grazing there."
Wendell Jeffrey, a former home town athlete said, Richards fight to the end was what made him successful at the tough event. Jeffrey agreed with Wilson, saying that Point Fortin was in need of a proper sporting facilities.
"We have to leave Point Fortin to train and that is very hard. Once we have a good facility to train, we will produce a lot more athletes. The government can do something for Point Fortin in light of the victory. Fix the Mahaica Oval. Fix Coronation Park," Jeffrey said.
Family and friends gathered for the race
Around 30 family member and friends gathered at Richards aunt's home around 7 am to witness the historical feat as they always believed that he could have done the job.
It was touch and go for a while as Richards was adjudged second behind England's Zharnel Hughes after they both crossed the finish line with the same time of 20.12 seconds. However, Hughes was disqualified for a lane violation. Wilson said there was never any doubt as she prayed for success and trusted in his preparation.
"When I got up this morning and even last night, I really prayed a lot for total success because I know it was something he could achieve and he worked hard at it. It's a feeling out of this world. It's like you're so happy, you don't know how to express yourself. It's just an ecstatic feeling and pride. It's like the dream came through."
She said the woke him from his sleep after the race to express the pride she felt at watching him beat the world. Everyone else in the background gave him a noisy congratulation.
Jack, who is sometimes mistaken for Richards, said "I was real proud that he won the race after all because he deserved it."
There were grins and smiles in Point Fortin as residents expressed their joy that not only was T&T emboldening its name in the history books, but because Richards came from their humble borough.
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