Belmont runner battles student visa hurdle, dreams of Olympic trials

Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Obstacles are a part of life and especially in sports.

Belmont track athlete Aidan Thompson thought his biggest obstacle was an injury in the fall of 2019, but couldn’t predict 2020 would bring much greater complications.

Running is all about being in control.

“If you have a bad day, it’s very rarely someone else’s fault,” said Thompson. “No teammate let you down, no referee let you down by making a bad call, 95 percent of it is on you.”

There was no controlling the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact. For athletes across the world, this time last year, seasons were cut short and careers ended. For Thompson, no school and no sport meant no student visa.

“I was home March 24th (2020) until January 6th (2021).”

Home for Thompson is Dunfermline, Scotland.

“Once home during the summer, this just went along a lot longer and it’s still obviously going on right now, so it just wasn’t possible to get back in the fall, which was just really hard to take.”

In August, Thompson found out a return to Belmont wouldn’t be possible due to visa complications and told us in an email he was ending his time at Belmont. It was over.

“I thought the Belmont career was done. There not a lot I could do about it, so emotionally, I just kind of closed that door,” he said. “I think I just didn’t really settle back home and it was very clear that I wasn’t really over this. I really hadn’t gone out the way I wanted to and knowing the eligibility was there was always in the back of my mind.”

Unfinished business.

“The season being canceled really hurt and yeah, I think I’m just back here trying to close out what I think I’m capable of doing now. So I’m excited to see how the next couple of months go.”

But if this year taught him anything, it’s to appreciate what’s in front of him.

“Every time you step on the track, it’s a pleasure to be there. You’re almost lucky to be there because it genuinely could have been done.”

Although he’s living in the moment, that doesn’t mean he can’t still dream big for the future.

“This summer, at the end of June is the Olympic trials for the Great Britain team that we’re taking to Tokyo. At the moment I don’t have the qualifying standard, but based on what we’re projecting for this outdoor season, I will have the standard to compete at that event. You want to put yourself in that environment, test yourself. I’m not going to the Olympic trials to qualify for the Olympics, I’m trying to be in there to soak up the atmosphere to see how much farther I need to go.”

Beyond that, Thompson says he’s hoping to represent his home country of Scotland at the 2022 Commonwealth games.

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