Richards: All future T&T 4x4s special

Trinidad and Tobago has a strong tradition in the men’s 4x400 metres relay. Deon Lendore was a pivotal figure in the country’s global 4x4 successes in this generation.

Lendore’s death in a vehicular accident in Texas, USA, last month, has left a void. In 2019, he teamed up with Jereem “The Dream” Richards, Asa Guevara and Machel Cedenio for gold at the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan. Lendore was also an Olympic bronze medallist, a World Championship silver medallist and a World Indoor Championship bronze medallist in the 4x4. He will be missed.

“All 4x4s would have a special meaning in the future,” Richards told the Express, “because Deon was like the cornerstone. He was the oldest out of this younger generation; he was the one we could turn to and put our fears upon; he would help us feel better, he would help us feel confident, and give us that energy needed so we could perform.

“I was talking to Machel recently,” Richards continued, “and I was telling him that with Deon gone, we now have to lead the next generation in the right way, in the right direction, and be that pillar of strength that Deon was for us.”

Richards opened his 2022 campaign on Sunday in New York, USA with victory in the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix men’s 400m event in an indoor best 45.83 seconds. Following the win, he paid tribute to Lendore by imitating the deceased athlete’s archer/bow and arrow celebration.

“Deon’s death impacted me very very hard,” said Richards. “He is like a brother to me. My first Carifta medal was on a 4x4 with Deon Lendore. He was like the pioneer for my generation—me, Machel, Asa, the Farinha brothers, Jonathan and Nathan, all of us. He led the way for us.

“To lose someone that important who motivated you all the time, who you could have counted on, who you could have called any time for advice or anything, it was definitely something very hard.”

Richards has entered another phase of the healing process.

“I am dealing with it a little bit better now. When I think about all the good times, all the funny moments, it makes me smile, it makes me laugh. But the sad thing about it is to know that you always have good times when this person is around, and this person isn’t around anymore for you to have any more memories like that. It’s a bitter-sweet feeling.”

Richards is preparing to defend his 200m title at the July 28 to August 8 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

“I’m working hard this year. Retaining the Commonwealth title is very important. I’m just going to trust in God, trust in the process, trust in training, and keep going forward. I’m off to a good start so this definitely is a confidence booster going into the rest of the season. I hope to stay healthy and be able to retain my title.”

Richards, the 2017 World Championship 200m bronze medallist, is also eyeing the podium at the 2022 World Champs in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
“My expectation for 2022 is to be the best athlete I could be, to be better than I was each and every time I step on the track, and to be a medal contender in every single race ... to be able to finish top-three in every single race that I step into.”