media_artricles :: 2017
Hislop comes to defence of TT athletesJelani Beckles :: Newsday :: 01.01.2017
Decorated Olympic sprinter Richard "Torpedo" Thompson has made a passionate plea to the Government to not forget its promises made last year that the 2012 4x100 men's Olympic silver medallists would be retroactively rewarded. TT's quartet of Thompson, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Keston Bledman crossed the finish line fourth at the 2012 London Games but were luckily bumped to third after Canada were disqualified for a lane violation.
The TT men were later upgraded to silver as American Tyson Gay was eventually found to have used a banned substance and USA were stripped of their medals.
It is deja vu for the TT men who are likely to be handed 2008 Olympic relay gold after Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter's B-sample tested positive for the illegal stimulant methylhexaneamine.
Carter's doping violation not only erases Jamaica's then world record time of 37.10 but also leaves sprint legend and his compatriot Usain Bolt with a triple- double instead of the perfect triple-triple (gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Games).
In a Facebook post yesterday speaking on behalf of his teammates, Thompson expressed gratitude for the "outpouring of love shown to us today on hearing the fortunate news that T&T has been upgraded from Silver to Gold." He reminded everyone though that the life of an athlete is hard and they are forced to sacrifice their livelihoods to represent TT .
He revealed promises were made to financially reward the 2012 national relay men retroactively which have been unfulfilled.
"In 2016 we returned our Bronze and were given our silver medals. There was a function held for us by the President, which we so greatly appreciated, there was a big buzz from the T&T people and media, then there was a follow up convo that we had with Minister Smith regarding retroactive financial compensation as well. "We were promised in July that something would be done to assure that we were rewarded for our efforts and representing T&T with integrity.
There were media releases and pictures taken....and then nothing! We were forgotten about and disappeared to them like magic," Thompson lamented.
He noted that the athletes spent considerable amounts of money to prepare for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro without being reimbursed.
"To make matters worse, in trying to prepare for the Rio Olympics, we endured an immense struggle to receive elite funding, which was intended to assist us with our Olympic preparation. To this date, I still have not received funding despite several attempts to coordinate with the minister, his assistant and the ministry officials.
I spent over $150,000 of my own money, and so did the other members of the 4x1 team to prepare for Rio, which included Coaching fees, massages, physical therapy, doctor's visits, supplements, meals, transportation and flights to competitions.
I am now being told that I will be unable to receive any reimbursement." Thompson said he is keen to meet Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Sports Minister Darryl Smith to chart a way forward.
After the 2016 Olympics, Minister Smith had indicated that his Government was pressing ahead to formulate an athlete reward policy so that local athletes do not have to "beg" when they achieve glory on the world stage.
Efforts to contact him yesterday evening to ascertain what stage formulating that policy was at proved futile up to press time.