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24
Sat, Aug

Thompson bats for battered teammates

Team TTO in Rio 2016
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On Friday night, Keston Bledman, Rondel Sorrillo, Emmanuel Callender and Thompson teamed up for seventh spot in the men's 4x100 metres final in 38.09 seconds. However, the T&T quartet was subsequently disqualified for a lane infringement, Callender having stepped out of lane eight during the handoff to anchorman Thompson.

“I'm proud of my guys,” Thompson told the Sunday Express, after the race, “and the way they fought. Proud of the entire T&T team for the way we've fought. Not only those who made the finals, or got personal bests or national records. But to everyone who stepped on the line and gave their all, I think that's important. That's the spirit of the Olympics.”

T&T's best-ever Olympic haul came at the 2012 Games in London, England—one gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Returning gold medallist Keshorn Walcott competed in the men's javelin final last night, and was the last hope for a T&T medal here in Rio.

“Maybe we're a bit spoiled by previous Olympics with the amount of medals. Yes, it's great to place expectations on ourselves and to not be complacent and to set goals and standards for what we believe we're capable of achieving. However, it's the nature of sport that you have ups and downs. Unfortunately for us, things aren't coming together now. Maybe it's just not God's time.”

Much of the criticism of the T&T Olympic team has come on social media. Thompson, Sorrillo and Bledman were among the vilified athletes after failing to advance to the semifinal round in the men's 100m dash.

“We've heard the criticisms and the negative comments, and it's fine. We accept criticism and we try to find a way to make ourselves better from it. About those people who weren't necessarily constructive in the negative comments, they need to understand that those of us who are here are here because of ample amount of sacrifice and hard work, just to achieve the standard to be at the Games.

“Everyone,” the triple Olympic silver medallist continued, “has put their heart and soul into doing it for themselves, doing it for the people that support them, and obviously doing it for Trinidad and Tobago.”

Thompson expressed his support for Walcott, ahead of the javelin final. The 23-year-old T&T field athlete had thrown 88.68 metres in Wednesday's preliminary competition to lead all qualifiers into last night's medal showdown.

“It looks as though Keshorn is in a great position to be a medallist again,” said Thompson, “and to possibly win the gold. It just makes me think of the last four years; the things people have said about him; the way people have treated him; the negative comments towards him. But he's had his downs, and he's found a way up again.

“I hope Keshorn would be an inspiration to the rest of the team, that amongst the negativity and amongst the bad performances, it doesn't determine what your outcome is. What is truly determinant is what is inside of you and your ability to push forward.”

Thompson said he and his teammates gave their all in the 4x1 final, but simply lacked the leg speed to challenge for a podium finish.

“From the get-go it was going to be difficult. Based on what we were working with at the moment, that's the best we could have done. We give thanks and praise to God for the opportunity to be in the final again.”

The T&T combination of Bledman, Marc Burns, Callender and Thompson earned Olympic silver at Beijing 2008, and again at London 2012.

“You win some, you lose some,” said Bledman, following Friday's final. “Marc was not here, but Rondel stepped up big time. It just wasn't our time in God's book.”

Bledman, 28, said he plans to be at the Tokyo 2020 Games for another shot at Olympic glory.

“I'm going till about 40-something, Kwame,” Bledman quipped.

But 30-year-old Sorrillo was non-committal about his Tokyo plans.

“We'll see,” the second leg runner told the Sunday Express.

Like his teammates, Sorrillo was satisfied that a big effort was made on behalf of the Red, White and Black.

A disappointed Callender said the Road to Rio was a rough one.

“Not to make it an excuse, but a lot of Trinidad and Tobago athletes faced a lot of adversity this year, coming into the Olympics, and I think that had a strong part to play in some of the performances. Even though we go through a lot of struggles and hardships, we still come out here to put our best foot forward, so at the end of the day,” Callender ended, “God still has to get the praise and all the honour.”

On a heart-breaking Friday night at the Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium, there was disqualification too for the T&T men's 4x400m team.

A third-place finish in heat one in two minutes, 58.84 seconds seemed to secure a championship race berth for Jarrin Solomon, Lalonde Gordon, Deon Lendore and Machel Cedenio. But Gordon, running the second leg, stepped out of lane and the quartet was disqualified. T&T management lodged a formal protest, which was thrown out by the jury of appeal.

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