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Thompson: Use sport to build character
Double Olympic medallist Richard Thompson is convinced that sports can be an excellent medium to build good character among the nation’s youth, ultimately weeding out the seeds of crime in T&T. And he has appealed to government not to underestimate the power of sports. Delivering the feature address at Sunday’s T&T Olympic Committee awards ceremony held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Thompson drew on his own life experiences, explaining how choosing, learning and ultimately embracing the sport of track and fields has not only conditioned his body for optimum health, but his mind, improving the quality of the decisions he makes. “I think it is imperative that our government, our community leaders, parents, schools and successful athletes encourage and promote the importance of sport in our country. It is especially important in a place like ours where there has been so much negativity and distraction. In a country plagued with crime, violence and poverty, I am a firm believer that sport and education are our best ways out.”
Thompson added, “I am extremely blessed and thankful to have grown up having the things I need. My parents always did their best to provide for my brother, two sisters and myself. And as much as we may not have always gotten the things we wanted, we had a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and never wondered where our next meal was coming from.” He said there are those whose days were met with unimaginable grief and society cannot afford to abandon them. He said it was up to level-headed and civic-minded citizens in society to show the less fortunate a better way. Being an Olympian has instilled strong values in him, but that was not to say he did not have his share of struggles. Thompson recalled during his teen years, being in tears at the Hasely Crawford Stadium because he did not make a Carifta team, due to injury.
He related that during his time of despair it was Olympian Ian Morris who comforted him with words of wisdoms that served as encouragement. Thompson said that during their conversation Morris shared his stories of failure and what he did to overcome. “Had I given up at age 17, I would not be what I am today and in a position to inspire other. Thankfully for my strong spiritual base and my relationship with God, I was able to be patient and come to the realisation that he would work it out; and this was all part of his plan for my life. To this day, being an Olympian has been one of my proudest moments in life. “There is something about wearing those national colours that gives me a feeling like no other. In my career, I have run ten wind-legal sub-tens in the 100-metres. I am proud to say that six of those sub-tens have been while wearing the red, white and black.”
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