Richard “Torpedo” Thompson was responsible for one of the most memorable moments at the inaugural IAAF World Relays, in Nassau, Bahamas, last year. In the men’s 4x100 metres final, the Trinidad and Tobago track star overhauled Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers on the anchor leg, turning bronze into silver.
“It’s always a blessing getting the stick around in a relay,” Thompson told the Express, “and an even bigger blessing when we win a medal.
“However, I think any athlete would admit that it’s a bit more fun when you ‘walk someone down’. That race indicated to me that I was back in really good shape because Chambers is a good sprinter. More importantly, it indicated to the world that T&T’s 4x100 team was back as we had a rough year in 2013.”
For the “Torpedo”, the World Relays experience would have been special even if he had left Nassau with no precious metal to his name.
“It was great. I found it really cool that they had us come through a tunnel to introduce us team by team...almost like they do in wrestling. It added more hype for the athletes and the fans. The meet itself was well attended and the fans were very active cheering every country on.”
T&T emerged from the 2014 IAAF World Relays with three medals. In addition to the men’s 4x100m silver captured by Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Rondel Sorrillo and Thompson, there was bronze for both the women’s 4x100m quartet and the men’s 4x400m team. T&T earned 19 points at the two-day meet to finish sixth—an excellent showing for a nation with a population of just 1.3 million.
Thompson was particularly pleased with the success of the women’s sprint relay combination of Kamaria Durant, Michelle-Lee Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Kai Selvon.
“They’ve had a terrible streak of bad luck over the past few years getting the stick around. Not only did they get the stick around this time, but they won their first global medal. That’s a great sign for when Kelly-Ann (Baptiste) and Semoy (Hackett) are thrown back into the mix.”
Baptiste completed a 21-month drug ban in January, while Hackett will be eligible to compete in May following a 28-month doping ban.
In Nassau last year, Lalonde Gordon, Renny Quow, Machel Cedenio and Jarrin Solomon finished third in the men’s 4x400m final in a national record time of two minutes, 58.34 seconds.
“For a number of years,” said Thompson, “the 4x100 men carried the rest of the team on our shoulders. We’ve expanded beyond that and have shown that T&T are beyond capable in different events and gender. The men’s 4x4 has been very consistent in the last three years and the women have stepped up significantly as well.”
The triple Olympic medallist is anticipating more success for Team T&T at the 2015 IAAF World Relays, scheduled for May 2 and 3.
“I don’t expect anyone to be in peak shape in May, especially since World Champs is in late August. However, I know that we are a hard-working bunch, and will be showing up there in good enough shape to give a good account of ourselves.
“The goal,” he continued, “is always to try to win, but I think that if we can leave with a medal in every event that we enter, that would be a solid showing.”
Thompson said there needs to be a permanent place on the international athletics calendar for the IAAF World Relays.
“Apart from the meet itself being a huge success, I had a lot of fun away from the track. Bahamas is a beautiful island so any chance I get I’ll be there. I’ll be there this year, God spare life, health and strength.”