FINE-TUNING: Richard Source:

By Kwame Laurence

Richard "Torpedo" Thompson did not expect to be in Trinidad and Tobago this weekend.

The double Olympic silver medallist and his agent, American Emanuel Hudson, wrote a letter to the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA), seeking permission to skip the Sagicor National Senior/Open Track and Field Championships. The request was denied, forcing Thompson to return home to compete for a place on the T&T team for the August 27-September 4 World Championships, in Daegu, Korea.

Thompson will be on show at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, in Port of Spain, tomorrow, opening day of the National Championships, bidding for a hat-trick of men's 100 metres titles.

"I'm ready for the weekend," Thompson told the Express, yesterday. "I'm not focusing on a time too much...just to get in there and qualify for the team. Sub-10 would be nice, but I'm not focusing on it."

Thompson said that following a conversation his father, Ruthven Thompson, had with NAAA president Ephraim Serrette, he was hopeful of being granted an exemption from the Championships.

Serrette, though, told the Express he gave no commitment and advised that a written request be forwarded to his organisation. The letter was submitted, but the executive committee of the NAAA turned down the request.

Six weeks ago, Thompson slammed the decision to stage the National Championships in mid-August, just two weeks ahead of Worlds. Nationals were originally scheduled for June 25 and 26, but had to be pushed back to August 13 and 14 because the laying of the new track at the Crawford Stadium had not been completed.

Thompson said the new local dates would put T&T athletes at a disadvantage at the global meet.

Hopeful that his consistency this season would have earned him an exemption, Thompson proceeded with his regular training schedule.

"When you look at my performance all year, I haven't run below ten, but I'm consistent at 10.0. Based on that, I felt I should have been exempted."

Thompson has bettered the 10.18 seconds World Championship "A" qualifying standard nine times in 2011. Five of those clockings were faster than 10.10: a season's best 10.01 at the Prefontaine Classic, in Oregon, USA; 10.09 and 10.05 at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham, England; 10.06 in Lignano, Italy; and 10.09 at the Aviva London Grand Prix, last Friday.

Keston Bledman has also bettered 10.10 seconds five times this season: 10.09 in Ponce, Puerto Rico; a personal best 9.93 in Florida, USA; 10.09 in Reims, France; 10.09 at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham, England; and 10.05 in winning gold at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Senior Championships, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

"They (NAAA) replied with a letter," Thompson explained, "saying that it's very difficult to select the team based on performances during the year.

"No disrespect to the other athletes, but apart from Keston and me, no one else has been consistent with the "A" standard. Darrel has not achieved the "A" standard. (Rondel) Sorrillo has the "A" which he ran a couple months ago (May 14), but his last race was 10.37. And Aaron (Armstrong) has run 10.13.

"We have always had a Championship," the 26-year-old track star continued, "not trials, so to say it was mandatory to run is strange to me. Obviously, they don't care about athletes. They care about having a Senior Champs loaded with the best athletes. I think it's very inconsiderate to hold the Championships this weekend.

"It's not that I think I'm better than anyone and feel I don't have to come home. I was very prepared to come back home in June. That was in our plans...we set our schedule and tailored our programme. But we have to miss days of training to be here now. Everybody's getting thrown off. But I know God does everything for a reason. I'm still focused on the goal, which is two weeks away."