Three-time Olympic medallist Richard Thompson says the opportunity to partner with sports drink manufacturer Gatorade to host yesterday’s inaugural sprinting camp in his name was a huge boast for his career. Some 100 emerging athletes from major clubs and schools across the country turned out for the Gatorade Richard Thompson Sprinting Camp held at the outfield at the Hasley Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain.

In a T&T Guardian interview the champion athlete cited the hunger he developed for new information about his sport just over two years ago, which guided him along the path to conceptualise and execute this clinic. In his view, it was part of his natural progression.

“I know where my head was a couple years ago, how much knowledge I wanted; how hungry I was for knowledge; how hungry I was to get better; and I know these kids are no different from me. I know there are a lot of people who see people like (Usian) Bolt and Maurice Greene and LaShawn Merritt and some of the top names and feel they want to be like them.

This is my way of assisting them to achieve that dream and to achieve that goal, but having these camps and giving them insight into things that could allow them to be better on a daily basis, that could allow them to be better in competition. 

“And, who knows what this would lead to? If it’s as simple as them qualifying for Carifta Games and the regional meets; or going to a (foreign) university and doing better. It may mean becoming professionals from secondary school, but which ever way we could assist and try to get people better, it’s important to us. I’m extremely glad to associated with something like that,” he said.  

“I think it’s very important that we focus on the young talent in T&T. Keston Bledman and I have to have people continue to fly the flag when we decide that we are going to hang up our spikes. This is just part of the process-molding the young ones, giving insight into some of the things they may not be privy too or have any knowledge at all about-including things like strengthen and conditioning.”

Gregory Seale from Movement Mechanics enlightened emerging athletes on the two previous areas of training as well as nutrition during yesterday’s session. Thompson lamented that because proper nutrition usually had no place in programmes designed by young athletes and their parents, but declared if they did not eat right to fuel their bodies the right way then the hard work they put in was null and void.

Shane Cooper, meanwhile, an athlete development and sports performance specialist from Altis Performance Evolution brought his experience as an assistant sprint coach from a US-based educational facility to bear. Thompson said establishing himself as a brand synonymous with educating and nurturing in sport was crucial for him.

“It is something I’ve always wanted to do-to help kids out-because again every time I talk somewhere, every time I give a motivation speech, I talk about the impact that Ato Boldon had on me in primary school, coming into Newtown Boy’s...just his presence! This guy went to the same school as me, he is from the same country as me and here he is an Olympic medallist. Why can’t I do it too? 

“This camp was to give kids hope, by me not only sharing stories with them and motivating them, but allowing them to interact with me going through the exercises and drills and accelerations; the stuff that I do as a professional,” Thompson said.