Double Olympic silver medalist Richard Thompson is okay and expects to resume training in two weeks' time. Thompson was involved in a vehicular accident on New Year's Day in Port-of-Spain which is now the subject of a police investigation. The sprinter has been advised not to speak publicly on the matter until the investigation is concluded. "The first two days after the accident transpired, I had a little pain in my neck and I found myself waking up to some minor headaches, but as of now, the only discomfort I am experiencing is a slight pain above my left knee, more towards my lower thigh, and I am having check ups with my doctors to advise me on this.
"The T&T Olympic Committee has been very caring," Thompson told the Trinidad Guardian, "but I would like the people of T&T who have all shown me so much love, to know that while I understand their concern, having spoken to the doctors, it is okay and I should resume training in two to three weeks. It is going to take time, and I know it will be a slow progress, but I do not foresee this in any way deterring me from being able to accomplish everything that I planned for 2009."
The 23-year-old sprinter was clearly willing to talk about the New Year's Day accident. "I would love to describe everything," he said, "but the police have taken action in terms of investigating the matter and as a result, my legal counsel has advised me not to speak on the matter any further until the investigation is completed."
"When the time comes, we will be able to talk openly on the matter. My family, Mr Vialva and I have been in communication and it would seem we are on the same page and no one should be worried. Everything seems to be quite okay, but again, I am very mindful of the genuine concern of the public and I appreciate it very much," disclosed Thompson. The young sprint sensation admitted that he had learned some important lessons.
"You cannot take life for granted and whenever or wherever you are, you need to be careful on the roads. You should always look out for each other as drivers and to be aware of everyone around you. "I know people have said it happened at 4 o'clock in the morning, I was partying etc, but it could have happened at any time. I just want to advise everyone to be careful on the roads at all times," he noted.
Thompson said that he has been advised not to drive and he will obey those instructions until his doctors tell him otherwise.
Thompson cast aside any suggestion of hiring a personal chauffeur.
"I do not necessarily agree with that," he said. "I am an independent person and when it comes to spending my time, I would not really like to have be dependent on someone to move around."
Thompson's father, Ruthven Thompson Sr, told the Sunday Guardian that it had been a difficult time for his family.
"It has been a traumatic experience for the family as a group, and for me personally I would like people to know that everything we have done is to ensure our son is safe and secure since the accident." "When we got the news and we were on our way driving to the accident, it seemed such a long time, there was just so much fear in our minds, it was a relief to see him just there with only cuts and bruises. It was a terrifying experience, not knowing how he was until we got there," an emotional but caring father indicated.
"We have received so much outpouring of love and concern, so many calls and visits; it has really been a pleasantly surprising experience. But of course we have read and heard that some persons have been annoyed that we prevented them from speaking with Richard. And this I need to clarify, if it came over that way while Richard was at the hospital."
Thompson senior, while admitting that it was the family that made the decision for Richard to go straight to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, also said, "We made our decisions based on three reasons, one, the doctors told us that Richard needed complete bed rest; two, he was on medication which meant he was in and out of sleep; three, we did not know the full extent of his injuries, despite the x-rays and the CT scan, the doctors wanted to have an MRI done...so it was as parents, my wife (Judy) and I and the rest of the family, believed out of an abundance of concern and caution, we needed to ensure Richard was given time to recuperate, free from any questioning."
Ruthven Junior, Richard's elder brother, again wanted to emphasise, "Richard is my little brother, so when I got the news, his health and well being was my biggest concern.....and as I also know Monique (Cabral) very well, I had to place that above all else." "As far as Richard goes, I was at first concerned for his immediate future, as I know he loves track and field; it is his heart and soul." "As for all the rumours. I know that in the final analysis, there were just so much best wishes, love and real concern, that I understand our people. But at the same time there were some who have never met Richard that were saying things that were not true, and this is not good," he remarked.
The Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Gary Hunt was very much involved in the welfare of Richard Thompson and was there at all times, Ruthven Junior said. "Yes, the Minister of Sports was there at least twice and he and other ministers were always ensuring everything was okay."
Ronald Clarke is the uncle of Richard and also his locally based manager and he said, "We had just left our mother's home and an hour later, I received a call from Richard's mom, and all I asked was how he was, and she said at the time, alive and okay."
"I remember Richard at the accident site, asking me to come into the ambulance with him, but you are only allowed one family member in the ambulance and his dad was already there. I was just happy and thanking God he was alive," said Clarke.
But Clarke wanted to clear the air on some points. "When we were at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital a reporter asked me if we had obtained permission from the NWRHA to have a personal bodyguard secure the area where Richard was resting, as it was a public institution.
"At the time I told him it was for this very reason we felt it necessary to have a guard as otherwise anyone could come and walk up to Richard while he was trying to rest and recuperate as prescribed by the medical team around him. I also mention that when Government ministers were in hospital, I understand they had security. His response was Richard was not a minister, but I said he was a national hero.....the next day I read, how I had said Richard was no ordinary citizen. I would hope in the future, responsible journalism would suggest people should not write on matters, unless they are certain, a person has made a remark, I never said that."
Ruthven Senior also wanted to speak on the role of family in an athlete's life. "The grounding is critical, if you can give your son or your daughter this sort of education before they become very successful, it will assist them as they move forward," "For instance at this stage, we do not have much work to do with Richard as he already knows a lot of what needs to be done....but what I will tell him, for the first time, this is an opportunity for him to do an introspection of his own life and where he wants to go. At this stage we can only guide him," "In the family household, Richard Thompson knows who the boss is, and so do all of us, it is Judy, my wife ..."
All four family members stated the unfortunate death of World Boxing champion 21-year-old Jizelle Salandy had made everyone realise how fortunate Richard and Monique were to be alive.
Richard concluded by wishing everyone well including Cabral. "I would hope she is okay, the truth is she has been in some pain up to recently and I know she wanted to run indoors, but given the events, I would advise her not to do that, and instead wait for the outdoor season.
"As for me, now that I am professional, I am not in a situation where I have to run so many events at the university and in that regards, if I do not run indoors it will not affect my plans for the outdoor season in 2009," said Thompson. "I just wish to thank so many people who have continued to support and be there for me, and making me feel so happy to know that as a team, we were able in Beijing to make people smile and be joyous. T&T, thanks for the love ..." Thompson concluded. Thompson returns to the USA today.