DOHA, Qatar – It’s been a long season for Bahamian former World Champion Donald Thomas. He wasn’t able to get in the kind of shape that he wanted to coming off of an injury, and as a result, didn’t perform at his best in the men’s high jump competition at these world championships.
A total of 31 athletes competed for spots in the final of the event at the 17th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, yesterday.
Thomas cleared 2.22 meters (m) – 7’ 3-1/2”, and ended up missing the final by one height. He knocked the bar down all three times at 2.26m (7’ 5”). Had he cleared that height on the first attempt, he would have been in Friday’s final. Just the top 12 advanced to the final, and Thomas ended up tied for 19th.
“Those things happen sometimes,” he said. “For me, this is the first time I was jumping since Pan Am and also I was battling an injury all season, so it was hard for me to get back to the higher heights. I’m disappointed but I’m thankful that I was able to come out here and perform. I just have to go back to the drawing board, get completely healthy and come back ready for next year.”
Despite having what he considers a subpar result, it was still a season’s best for Thomas. He was clean in the competition up to the 2.26m height. As the first jumper in the competition, Thomas looked smooth going over the bar at 2.17m (7’ 1-1/2”). The next height, 2.22m, he attacked with confidence and glided over the bar. When in form, he has little problems clearing 2.26m. However, this time, it just wasn’t to be for the Bahamian high jumper.
“It actually felt pretty good out there,” he said. “I picked up an injury in training camp in May and worked myself back into shape but just wasn’t sharp enough to go out there and execute. I know that I wasn’t 100 percent out there but I still fought. I was one height from advancing to the final, so I could look at it like that and be optimistic for next year.”
A total of 10 jumpers cleared 2.29m (7’ 6-1/4”) to qualify for the final on Friday. Thomas said he knows he belongs out there with those world-class jumpers clearing the same heights, but will now have to shut it down and gradually prepare for next season. He’s looking forward to qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games, thereby representing The Bahamas for a fourth time at the Olympics.
In Doha, he was looking to make his fifth world championships final. He won the world title in his first appearance in 2007, finished 11th with a height of 2.20m (7’ 2-1/2”) in 2011 in Daegu, South Korea, was sixth, clearing 2.32m (7’ 7-1/4”) in Moscow, Russia, in 2013, and duplicated that performance by finishing sixth again two years later in Beijing, China, with a clearance of 2.29m.
Prior to these world championships, his season’s best was just 2.15m (7’ 0-3/4”). He finished 11th with a clearance of 2.10m (6’ 10-3/4”) at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, which was the last time he competed leading into these world championships. Thomas qualified for the world championships by clearing 2.30m (7’ 6-1/2”) at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic, last year.
Thomas has a personal best leap of 2.37m (7’ 9-1/4”) and is a former world champion, former Commonwealth Games Champion, former Pan Am Games Champion and a two-time Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games Champion.
At 35, he knows that his career is winding down and that his window of opportunity is closing but he is looking forward to getting healthy and returning to the Olympic Games next year.
The Games of the 32nd Olympiad are set for July 24 to August 9, 2020, in Tokyo, Japan, and the qualifying height for the men’s high jump for that event is a lofty 2.33m (7’ 7-3/4”).