Richard “Torpedo” Thompson has already seen competitive action in 2014, and is satisfied with his progress following a challenging campaign last year.
The 2008 Olympic men's 100 metres silver medallist endured a painful 2013, battling daily with a hip injury that prevented him from being a medal contender at the World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
“I've progressed significantly from what I experienced last year,” Thompson told the Express. “Literally not one day did I go through training or competition without pain in 2013. It would be nice to say that the injury is completely behind me, and I'm doing everything to ensure that, but the only true test is time.”
Running indoors for the first time in almost two years, the US-based track star opened his 2014 campaign at the Howie Ryan Invitational, in Houston, Texas, two weekends ago. He successfully negotiated the preliminary and semi-final rounds of the men's 60m dash, before finishing fifth in the final in 6.69 seconds.
“I don't think it was a bad opener. I wanted to use the opportunity to confirm that my hip can withstand competition and I came out feeling fine. There's still a lot of work to be done obviously but it's a step in the right direction.
“I'm based in Baton Rouge (Louisiana),” he continued. “Usually I would open there instead of Houston but the LSU indoor track is being renovated and won't be open until mid-February.”
Thompson returned to Texas for last Saturday's Texas A&M Aggie Invitational. He clocked 6.72 seconds to secure bronze in the Olympic Development men's 60m dash.
Thompson's fastest legal 100m time in 2013 was 10.14 seconds--much slower than his 9.85 Trinidad and Tobago record. The 28-year-old sprinter did not get to the century final at the Moscow Worlds, and called off his season following T&T's seventh-place finish in the 4x100m final.
Thompson then focused on rehabilitating his injured hip. T&T Olympic Committee (T&TOC) president Brian Lewis and immediate past president Larry Romany arranged for the triple Olympic medallist to attend the Michael Johnson Performance (MJP) training facility, in Texas.
“MJP has a really great facility with a great team of people working there.
I spent an entire month and everything was really professionally done--from seeing a specialist to determine exactly what the problem was to directly devising a plan to fix it. They have been great with following up and ensuring that I'm doing the exercises and getting the necessary treatment that I need to be healthy so that gains made there will not be lost. I must say special thanks to Larry Romany and Brian Lewis who were instrumental in getting me there.”
While it was a tough year on the track for Thompson, on a personal level 2013 was memorable. He became a father for the first time, his girlfriend, former T&T sprinter Monique Cabral giving birth to their son, Rhys.
“I'm thoroughly enjoying being a father. At first it was difficult mixing with my schedule. Rhys was born last year right as my season started and as a newborn he would wake up a lot during the night but we have him on a schedule now and it fits perfectly into my routine. Monique is such a great mother too and is so supportive with my career, so it really allows things to operate smoothly.
“I'm extremely grateful,” Thompson added, “to have family, friends and loyal fans who have supported me through difficult times. You always appreciate those who root for you when you're doing well but when times are tough your appreciation for those who stick by you is way greater. I know that the people of T&T are still behind me and I just ask that everyone prays for me and the rest of athletes who fly our national colours.”
Thompson said he has not set himself any lofty 2014 goals.
“As strange as it may sound my goal is to have a strong and injury-free season. Last year really humbled me a lot. Struggling to run times that I would run easily and running in agony really made me appreciate health. Never take for granted being able to feel 100 percent.
“Sub-10 would be nice,” he continued, “but I'll try not to focus on a time too much. I have to get back to my 2008 focus where it's about executing races properly. Once I can go through my phases correctly, I'm certain that good times will follow. I will do 200s this year, God spare health and strength.”
Thompson is hoping to make his Commonwealth Games debut in Glasgow, Scotland, later this year.
“I'm excited about the opportunity to compete at the Commonwealth Games. It's at the top of my priority list of meets for the season. The Commonwealth has the world's best sprinters so it will be no easy task. I can't make any predictions or promises this early but it would be an honour as usual to represent T&T and do well.”
The Commonwealth Games will take place between July 23 and August 3. The fastest men and women on the planet are also expected to be in attendance at the May 24-25 IAAF World Relays, in Nassau, Bahamas.
“My services are available. I think it would be vital in preparation for Commonwealth to field our best teams for these relays. It's good to start building bonds as a team and strengthening those that are already in existence but any gains made this year are no good unless we can find a way to keep making progress on any statement we make at any meet this year.”
Thompson said 2014 is a stepping stone on his journey to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“If it's in God's plans for me then this will be a great year. I have a plan for this year and I have a plan to be at my best in 2016. It's all about having patience, staying focused and sticking to the game plan.”