30 Greatest Tigers of the Decade: #9 Richard Thompson

#9 Richard Thompson

 

Richard Thompson is the fastest man to ever attend LSU.  He is the fastest man in SEC history.  He is the fastest man in NCAA history.  He's the second fastest man in the world, and that's granting the questionable concept that Usain Bolt is a human being.  Richard Thompson is one of the greatest athletes, and almost assuredly the greatest sprinter, to ever run for LSU's rather illustrious track program.

Thompson earned All-American honors as a freshman, running the lead leg of the 4x100 relay team.  He would win a national title, his first of four, with the same team in his sophomore year.  All in all, a good start to a college career, but nothing truly legendary.  It wasn't until 2007, his junior year, that Thompson came into his own.

He announced his presence by setting the LSU record in the 60m during the indoor season.  He would make the NCAA Championships in both the 60m and 200m in indoor.  In the outdoor season, he would anchor the 4x100 to a second place finish and his 100m time set the LSU speed record, tying the time set by Xavier Carter.  His time allowed him to qualify for the World Championships, where he ran for his native Trinidad & Tobago and finished 31st in the world. 

And then he rewrote the record book in his senior year.  Thompson would not lose the 60m (indoor) or the 100m (outdoor) once in his senior year.  His undefeated season in the major sprint events obviously resulted in individual national titles, as he swept through the SEC and NCAA Championships.  He won the 200m SEC title and Regional title, but finished second in the event at the NCAA Championships.  He anchored a 4x100 squad that swept the Texas and Penn Relays, then went on to win the SEC and NCAA titles.  He became the first athlete since Justin Gatlin to win both the 60m and 100m national titles in the same season.  The 4x100 relay added a remarkable third national title in his senior year.

When the dust settled, Thompson had 8 All-American awards, 8 All-SEC finishes, four national titles, and five SEC titles.  Not a bad resume.  Then he capped off his senior year by going to some obscure meet in Beijing and winning two Olympic silver medals (100m and 4x100).  We've had the good fortune to see a lot of great track athletes over the years, but Thompson has staked his claim to be the greatest.   

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