|Richard Thompson: "if you look at the best sprinters in the world now, Bolt is a year younger than I but you have Gatlin, Tyson and Asafa Powell who are all well into their thirties now."|
Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago is 30 but the 2008 Olympic silver medallist still feels young enough to challenge the best at the World Championships later this year. Thompson says high level sprinting by the likes of 32 year-old Asafa Powell gives him confidence. The affable Trinidad and Tobago national 100 record holder was speaking during his recent visit to Jamaica in for the Jamaica Invitational.
"I still have youth on my side", he calculated with his 30th birthday on June 7. "Honestly", he outlined, "if you look at the best sprinters in the world now, Bolt is a year younger than I but you have Gatlin, Tyson and Asafa Powell who are all well into their thirties now."
Usain Bolt, the reigning World and Olympic champion, is 29 this summer and Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Powell are all 32 going 33. Moreover, TRACK AND FIELD NEWS, the respected US journal, ranked 6 men who are 30 this year or older in the top 10 for the 2014 season in the 100 metres. They were Americans Gatlin and Mike Rodgers who were number 1 and 2 respectively, Jamaica's Nesta Carter at 4, Powell at number 5, Thompson at 9 and evergreen Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis at number 10.
Even so, sprinting is still a young man's game. Only Carl Lewis and Linford Christie have won the World Championship 100 at age 30 or older and the average age of the 14 100 metre World Champions is 25 years old.
Thompson was 23 when he paced Bolt through the first half of the 2008 Olympic 100 metre final before finishing strongly in second place. He got another silver medals as the anchor leg runner on the twin island republic's 4×100 team.
As Thompson approaches 30, the form of older sprinters is a source of encouragement. "It just gives me encouragement that I'm able to continue to sprint well for a few years again", he said. He believes his experience will help to a certain extent. "It's worth something in terms of 'been there, done that'", said the 2009 World Championships finalist, "but at the same time, I can't be complacent and tell myself that I've been there before and that's going to carry me all the way."
"I have to approach it like it's my first time and I'm hungry but at the same time, be mindful of things I shouldn't do based on the experiences I've had in the past", he surmised.
Thompson set a seasonal best in the Jamaica Invitational 100 metres with a fourth place finish in 10.04 seconds. His lifetime best – a national record of 9.82 seconds – was established last year.