Jereem “The Dream” Richards has switched camps, and is now training in Clermont, Florida, USA under the watchful eyes of American coach Lance Brauman.
In 2017, University of Alabama coach Blaine Wiley guided Richards to men’s 200 metres bronze at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Outdoor Championships. A couple weeks earlier, the Trinidad and Tobago sprinter had clocked a personal best 19.97 seconds. Richards went on to secure 200m bronze and 4x400m gold at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, England.
Forced by Covid-19 to train in T&T for seven months, Richards eventually returned to Alabama last month, en route to Brauman’s adidas camp in Florida. “With Covid-19 affecting me as a professional athlete using a college facility,” Richards told the Express,
“I had to look at alternative ways to train and not have to worry about facilities being closed. It was a difficult decision to make because Coach Wiley is more than a coach. He’s a mentor, a friend and in some ways a father figure. He also was a part of my successes in 2017 and 2018.
“Coach Wiley was very supportive in me moving and just wishes the best for me. He advised that I stay focused and keep trying to be the best athlete that I can be.”
Richards is now in the same camp as American Noah Lyles, the reigning men’s 200m world champion.
“I believe in the saying that iron sharpens iron, and one of the main reasons that I moved here is to get better based on the people that I have around me. I believe that if you surround yourself with successful people, you also can become successful. I won’t say Noah and I are training partners, but I wouldn’t say that we’re not. We’re sometimes in the same group, but other times we’re not.”
The Brauman camp also includes Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the 2016 Olympic Games women’s 400m gold medallist, as well as some of T&T’s best athletes.
“I’m currently training with the likes of Keston Bledman, Machel Cedenio, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Khalifa St Fort. I’ve been training here for three weeks, and I’m really excited to be around a group of professionals where we can help each other get better.
“There definitely was not any pressure in me switching. This was all my decision, and based on the variables I strongly believe it was the best decision for me to make. I expect to be faster over 200 metres, 400 metres and 100 metres. My goal is to become an Olympic medallist for 2021. In terms of competition, whenever coach thinks I’m ready, that’s when I’ll be ready to go.”
Richards will be joined in Florida by his main local rival, Kyle Greaux, a 2019 World Championship men’s 200m finalist. Greaux is part of the Brauman camp, but is currently training at home. Richards said his seven months in T&T, from March to October, were well spent.
“Training at home has definitely helped me. I’ve been fit, I am healthy, and I came here in excellent shape.” While in T&T, Richards got married, the Point Fortin sprinter tying the knot with former athlete Kayja Thomson on September 20.
“I expect the stability of marriage to help me as a professional athlete. Before, I would have gone through some of my struggles and celebrated some of my victories alone, in a sense. Now, I have a partner who could be there for the good times and bad times,” Richards ended. “I’m very excited to have her by my side.”