ALMOST six months on from the Olympic Games and Kim Collins is still reflecting on what might have been.
The veteran St Kitts and Nevis sprinter and former 100m world champion found himself embroiled in one of the biggest controversies of London 2012 when he was banned from competing by officials from his own country.
Having gone to visit his wife and children in a London hotel, allegedly without permission, Collins found his accreditation had been cancelled, when he returned to the Olympic Village. The St Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee then pulled him from his spot in the 100m heats as punishment.
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The stunned sprinter broke the news via social networking site Twitter: "My fans. I won't lie. Won't be running later tonight." He added: "Even men in prison get their wives to visit."
Collins maintained he was given permission to see his wife Paula, who is also his coach, but St Kitts and Nevis officials claimed they had not heard from him for three days. Less than a week earlier, the runner had proudly been his country's flag-bearer in the Olympic opening ceremony. Having declared that he "didn't come to watch 100m final on TV" Collins flew home.
As the dust settles, his anger over the incident is still palpable. "Although its been a while since the London Olympic Games, I still wonder: 'What if?'" he told Herald Sport. "I don't think that I can get over what happened so soon. The event is still fresh and I'm doing my best to work through the effects.
"My mind has not changed about my decision to not represent my country, but you can't deny the fact that I was born in St Kitts and Nevis. There was no apology from anyone – and I don't expect any either. The fans were very supportive and for that I thank them. It made a difference to me to know that there are still fans of me who honestly enjoy watching me compete."
Tomorrow Collins, 36, will return to action in the British Athletics International Match at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow going head-to-head with Britain's Dwain Chambers in the 60m.
His appearance was in doubt in recent days following the news that Collins' elder brother, Callustus, was shot dead by police after his sister-in-law was stabbed. But organisers said yesterday the star was still scheduled to compete.
Speaking before his brother's death, Collins said: "I am looking forward to coming back to Glasgow, it is my tradition to represent the Commonwealth Select and do well for the team.
"My winter training is going very well, I feel that I'm in great shape geared specifically for the 60m. My goal for 2013 is to do better than I have in previous years and to compete competitively as always.
"I would like to exhibit my character as a dominant sprinter once more. I still think I can run under 10 seconds [over 100m]."
He may turn 37 in April, but Collins insists he has no intentions of slowing down any time soon, believing he can continue to compete at top international level for some time to come.
"I honestly think that I can be competitive at age 40 in my event, the 100m, but after I reach 40, I think I will retire once and for all," he said. "I would like to explore coaching after I have finished competing in track and field."
Collins hasn't ruled out an appearance at the Commonwealth Games some 18 months from now, but in what capacity remains uncertain. "I may be in Glasgow in 2014, but not as an athlete," he said.
n The British Athletics International Match will be shown live on Saturday, BBC1, 1.30pm-4.30pm