Three-time Olympian Richard "Torpedo" Thompson is remaining patient amid the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) delay in presenting 2008 Beijing Olympics gold to TT's4x100m relay men's team.
Nine years after Thompson and relay teammates Keston Bledman, Marc Burns and Emmanuel Callender finished as runners-up behind Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, Michael Frater, Asafa Powell and Nesta Carter, the winners were stripped of their medals after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the IOC decision to strip Carter of gold for a positive doping result.
Carter’s anti-doping violation saw the IOC automatically upgrade TT to gold medal status, Japan to silver and Brazil to bronze.
As per the new IOC medal reallocation policy, the TT relay men were given options on how they wished to receive their new gold medals.
Their options were: to be awarded at a ceremony at the next IAAF World Championship or Continental Championship; a presentation at the next major TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) event – a National Championship, sport awards or gala; a private ceremony in co-ordination with the TTOC or at the next Olympic Games.
The team chose the latter with the IOC bearing the cost of the athletes and two guests being flown to the Games.
Due to the rescheduling of the Tokyo Games to 2021 due to the global covid19 pandemic, Thompson and his compatriots must now wait a bit longer to receive athletics’ most esteemed prize.
“We expected to have the medals by now but given the circumstances, we understand. The pandemic has forced the world to adjust, so this is just another instance of doing what is necessary to protect our health and the well-being of others as well,” Thompson said in a telephone interview on Saturday.
The four sprinters will go down in TT history books as the nation’s third recipients of Olympic gold. Hasely Crawford won men's 100m gold in 1976 in Montreal and Keshorn Walcott captured javelin gold in London in 2012.
Thompson remains optimistic that once “things return back to normal,” the IOC, TT Olympic Committee and athletes would meet and confirm an official date for the medal presentation.
The former Louisiana State University (LSU) sprinter remains hopeful the relay squad will get a chance to sing the national anthem atop the podium in Tokyo.
“This is a special moment for us as a team, and for us as a country. We look forward to hearing the anthem and seeing our flag raised as those gold medals hang around our necks,” he added.
TTOC president Brian Lewis lamented the postponement of the medal presentation but said the decision was ideal given the worldwide health crisis.
“Due to covid19, the IOC had to put off the event. The athletes are fully aware of the situation and we await a final decision on when they will be crowned men’s 4x100m relay Olympic champions,” he said.
Carter’s anti-doping violation saw sprint legend Bolt lose one of his nine Olympic gold medals. Bolt had claimed Olympic triple gold (100m, 200m, 4x100m) in 2008, 2012 and 2016.