July 28, 2014 promised to be a day that would go down in Trinidad and Tobago’s sporting history…it was not to be.
Richard “Torpedo” Thompson and Keston Bledman exited in the semifinal round of the Commonwealth Games men’s 100 metres dash, at Hampden Park here in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday, ending the country’s hopes of striking gold in the blue riband event.
“A disappointing day for Trinidad and Tobago,” Thompson lamented, following his elimination. “Myself, Bledman, Michelle-Lee Ahye, and all the other people who were looking to track and field to produce a couple medals. Unfortunately, we didn’t pull it out.”
Thompson was the men’s 100m world leader for a couple weeks thanks to his 9.82 seconds scorcher at the National Championships. And Ahye was the fastest woman in the world this year for a month after blazing the track in 10.85 at the same meet.
With the Commonwealth Games men’s and women’s 100m finals scheduled for the same day, yesterday, a golden T&T double seemed a reasonable expectation.
But a leg injury sustained in Switzerland a fortnight ago put paid to Ahye’s chances. She struggled through her first round heat on Sunday, qualifying second in 11.52, and then withdrew from the Games, leaving her semifinal lane empty.
Thompson was among the starters in the men’s century semis, but was a shadow of the sprinter who became the ninth fastest man in history with the 9.82 run.
Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole won the third heat easily in 10 seconds flat, leaving Thompson and Kittitian Antoine Adams to battle for the second automatic qualifying spot.
Thompson leaned at the line, but was narrowly beaten by Adams, 10.18 to 10.19. Thompson’s clocking was not fast enough for a “fastest loser” berth in the final.
Bledman was also third in his heat. And, like his T&T teammate, was too slow to advance. Bledman got to the line in 10.24 seconds in heat one to finish behind Bahamian Warren Fraser, the winner in 10.21, and Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade, who was also credited with a 10.21 clocking.
On hearing confirmation that there would be no “fastest loser” reprieve, Thompson was distraught, but put on a brave face.
“Nothing to blame specifically,” the “Torpedo” told the Express. “I didn’t have a good championship. I just didn’t show up ready, and I’m sorry to disappoint everybody because I know just as I had high hopes and expectations for myself, there were a lot of people expecting the same of me. I just didn’t bring it today. I didn’t do well…disappointing performance.”
For Thompson and Bledman, the focus now switches to the sprint relay.
“It’s all about getting ready for the 4x1,” said Thompson. “Hopefully, we do a lot better there and we medal. We have a strong enough team, competent enough team. Hopefully, we’ll bring home precious metal.”
Two of the medals on offer in the men’s 100m final went to Jamaica. Bailey-Cole repeated his 10-flat run to secure gold, while Ashmeade earned bronze in 10.12. England’s Adam Gemili clocked 10.10 for silver.