Athletes of the Cougars Track and Field Club got an early Christmas present on Friday afternoon at their training camp at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.

The gift came in the form of T&T’s World Championships 4x400 metres relay gold medallist and 200m bronze medallist Jereem Richards, who visited the athletes during their annual training camp.

Richards spoke to the 63 club members of the nine-year-old club, who are preparing for the upcoming track season and specifically the Barbados Relay Fair on February 10.

Richards told the gathering of his humble beginnings and that it took him some 17 years before he won his first major medal.

“That medal came in my final year of Under-20 (category) at the Carifta Games,” said the Point Fortin-born athlete, who told his aspiring audience that it is only with hard work and disciple that one will achieve and reach the pinnacle of success in the sport.

“Once you work diligently, your time will come just as mine did. Many of you have the ability and the talent but there are things which you must do to be successful and one of the most important is having discipline.

“You have to have a vision, you must have a goal and you must remain focussed on your task or mission. I did this consistently at the University of Alabama. Once I achieved my goal, I set myself another until I am where I now stand. But be mindful, I have already set myself goals for the 2018 season and beyond.”

Richards then went on the elaborate as to what will make one successful as an athlete at the University level.

He said, “I went to a Junior College before going to the University of Alabama and I was fortunate that my coach also moved to the University. The important thing for all of you here to understand is that you must work hard with your education. You must find that mix between academia and sport. You will be an athlete for 12 -15 years in the big league but there is life after sport.”

Coach Kelvin Nancoo then asked the Club’s “Sportsman of the Year” Jaden St Louis to ask Richards to give details on what he runs and who decides which event he participates in.

Richards said: “I run in whatever event my coach dictates. I run 1,500 metres events. You have to trust your coach and believe in yourself, that is what will make the difference. The workout sometimes are tough but when you begin to succeed, suddenly you begin to respect and admire your coach.”