LONDON – Alabama’s Jereem Richards ran the second leg on Trinidad & Tobago’s gold medal-winning 4×400-meter relay to close out the final day of action at the 2017 IAAF World Championships Sunday at London’s Olympic Stadium.
Richards took the baton with Trinidad & Tobago well off the lead after the opening leg and turned in a split of 43.60 to move Trinidad & Tobago into second place behind the United States at the second exchange, where they remained heading into the final lap. Richards’ split was the fastest of the four Trinidad & Tobago relay legs in the final.
On the anchor leg, Richards’ teammate Lalonde Gordon caught and passed the United States’ Fred Kerley down the homestretch to give Trinidad & Tobago the victory in a 2017 world-best 2:58.12. The United States took silver in a U.S. season-best 2:58.61. Great Britain earned bronze in a season-best 2:59.00.
“I think we were relaxed,” Richards said following the race. “We were always one of the favorites but to actually win is a great experience. This is something I’ve always dreamed about, something I’ve been working for my whole life. To actually achieve it, words can’t explain how grateful I am right now. Everything is just feeling like a dream.”
With the victory, Richards joins Calvin Smith and Kirani James as the only Tide athletes to win gold at the IAAF World Championships. Smith won a pair of gold medals (200 meters, 4×100-meter relay) at the first IAAF Championships in Helsinki in 1983 and added a third career gold in the 200 meters in Rome in 1987. James won the 400 meters in 2011 in Daegu, South Korea.
Richards and Smith are also the only Alabama athletes to win multiple medals at one IAAF World Championship. Smith won a silver in the 100 meters to go with his two gold medals in 1983. The two medals are the most for Alabama at an IAAF World Championships since 1987 when Smith, Jamaica’s Clive Wright (bronze/men’s 4×100-meter relay) and the United States’ Lillie Leatherwood (bronze/women’s 4×400-meter relay) combined to win three.
Richards’ gold on Sunday was the 22nd medal won by an athlete with Southeastern Conference ties at this year’s world championships, a total which would rank second behind the 30 won by the United States in the country medal standings.