Jereem "The Dream" Richards has added impetus ahead of the 2023 track and field season.
Richards received Hummingbird Gold at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), in Port of Spain, on Saturday evening. Afterwards, the 2022 Commonwealth Games double gold medallist told the Express the national award is a source of inspiration.
"This adds fuel for 2023; to be back on that stage again being honoured."
Richards made a successful defence of his men's 200 metres title at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. He crossed the line in a championship record and personal best time of 19.80 seconds. One day later, Dwight St Hillaire, Asa Guevara, Machel Cedenio and Richards teamed up for victory in the 4x400m final in three minutes, 01.29 seconds.
St Hillaire, Guevara, Cedenio and Richards, as well as Che Lara and Kashief King, who ran in the qualifying round, were all awarded Hummingbird Gold. Richards wore a broad smile while receiving his medal from President Paula-Mae Weekes, on Saturday.
"It was definitely a special moment for the team effort.
"It's a great honour to receive a national award," Richards continued. "It was a bit of a surprise too, but all in all I'm just thankful for the opportunity."
Richards also made an impact off the track at Birmingham 2022. Following his half-lap triumph, he asked that the steelpan rendition of the national anthem be played at the medal ceremony. The request was granted, and "Forged from the Love of Liberty" was heard on pan during the 200 and 4x4 ceremonies.
Richards, who received the nation's second highest award, Chaconia Gold following his World Championship 200m bronze in 2017, was on fire in 2022. In addition to his two Commonwealth Games gold medals, the Point Fortin sprinter captured the World Indoor Championship 400m title in a championship and national indoor record time of 45 seconds flat.
Another T&T relay team made the 2022 national awards honour roll. Jerod Elcock, Eric Harrison Jr, Kion Benjamin and Kyle Greaux earned men's 4x100m silver at the Commonwealth Games in 38.70 seconds. Those four sprinters as well as Akanni Hislop, who performed anchorleg duties for T&T in the qualifying round, were awarded Hummingbird Silver.
The national awards honour roll also included Commonwealth Games men's keirin gold medallist Nicholas Paul. The T&T cyclist also secured sprint silver and kilometre time trial bronze. Paul was awarded Hummingbird Gold.
Deon Lendore was preparing for Birmingham 2022, but met an untimely death in a vehicular accident in Texas, USA in January. Lendore, T&T's top quarter-miler in 2021, was expected to be on the country's 4x4 team at the Commonwealth Games.
Lendore was a natural leader, inspiring his T&T team-mates to achieve excellence. In death, he continues to be a source of motivation.
After receiving his Hummingbird Gold, Richards reflected on Lendore's impact.
"Deon will forever be in our minds and thoughts once we step foot on the track, especially for relays."