FORMER TT Olympian Alvin Daniel said he is disappointed at the manner in which Richard Thompson is being treated, saying for far too long national athletes are not given the respect they deserve. He was referring to an exchange of emails between Thompson and sport development associate at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs Shabir Mohammed concerning a request for elite athlete funding.
In one email, Mohammed questioned if Thompson should be considered an elite athlete if he is injured and not ranked highly on the world stage. Mohammed said, “Your report says that you (Thompson) may be able to fully train in March 2018 and another says that there is no world ranking (100m) for 2017. Can an injured athlete who has no world ranking be elite?”
Daniel, who represented TT at the 1992 Olympic Games, was upset by the comments made by Mohammed, arguing Thompson’s performances over the years proves he is elite.
Daniel said, “Richard Thompson won a silver medal behind the world’s fastest man which is Usain Bolt (in the 100m at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing). Richard Thompson anchored TT relay side many times when we got medals at World Championships and stuff. What they think, Richard Thompson is a robot?”
Daniel said national athletes must be supported whether they are healthy or injured. “Athletes breakdown and comeback, we have to help our athletes; I don’t understand that statement at all. It is so sad, and as an athlete sometimes they make you get angry and want to say the wrong things. It is just sad to see that people like you when you on top, and nobody really tries to help you when you start to breakdown.”
The former 400m runner said a lack of respect for athletes is a recurring theme and he had to deal with it when he competed. Daniel said he went the extra mile to represent TT even though officials did not. “We always had that problem (of a lack of respect). I used to leave Point Fortin to go quite to the National Stadium (in Port of Spain) for training (and) they gave you nothing. We had to buy our (own) clothes at one time to represent the country...I used to go by a place named Atlantis in Port of Spain that used to make clothes. I used to buy TT colours so we could run in something good.”
Daniel said much work still needs to be done in providing support to athletes. “I don’t think we getting it right as yet. For too long they waiting on athletes to be successful and everybody jumping on the bandwagon. Nobody is taking the time to see how best they could really help the athletes, and see if we could really get their true potential to see how far they could really go.”