Thomas still driven to succeed

Coming off a ninth straight appearance at the athletics world championships, Bahamian Donald Thomas is being featured on the World Athletics website as an athlete who just keeps going on, and one who continues to push through adversity to compete at a high level and represent his country.

It’s been 16 years since Thomas won gold in the men’s high jump at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics in Osaka, Japan, clearing 2.35 meters (m) – 7’ 8-1/2”. He hasn’t missed an outdoor world championships since, and has been one of the most consistent performers among Bahamian athletes in that span.

At 39, Thomas continues to produce at a very high standard. He finished tied for 16th at the 19th World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, last month, missing the final by three centimeters. Thomas cleared 2.25m (7’ 4-1/2”) and the final qualifying height for the final was 2.28m (7’ 5-3/4”). He failed three times at the 2.28m height.

From all indication, he will compete for a spot for next year’s Olympics as well, maintaining an incredible level of consistency and durability. Thomas is a four-time Olympian. His nine world championships appearances matches Chris Brown, Laverne Eve, Jackie Edwards and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie for the most ever in Bahamian history.

Thomas told Cathal Dennehy of World Athletics that he will keep going as long as he physically can.

“I guess, I want to achieve more,” he said. “I felt like I had it in me to get into the final and possibly contend for a medal (in Budapest). It just didn’t go my way. I feel I can do it, so I just got to keep it going…. I feel like I have better jumps left. So, I gotta stay positive, take the good with the bad.”

Since breaking on the scene in 2006, Thomas has been arguably The Bahamas’ most consistent athlete, maintaining a high level of production and winning regional and world medals. He is a world champion, a Commonwealth Games champion, a Pan American Games champion, a Continental Cup champion, and a two-time Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games champion.

He told Dennehy that two of his biggest supporters, a 17-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter thinks he is a superhero.

“They always look up to me and admire what I do. I’m sure they will be disappointed I didn’t get into the final (Budapest), but that’s what it is. You compete against the world and sometimes you fall short,” he said.

The Bahamian standout athlete said it is because of the support he receives and confidence in his ability which keeps him going. Remarkably, he has been able to avoid major injury during his stellar 17-year professional career. He wants to maximize his potential, possibly winning another world title and getting that elusive Olympic medal. His highest ever finish at the Olympics was in a three-way tie for seventh in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, clearing 2.29m (7’ 6”). He has been as high as sixth at the world championships, following his victory in 2007.

He’s won the national title in the men’s high jump eight times.

“If I didn’t think I could get one (another world title), I wouldn’t still be jumping. I feel I could do it. So, I just got to keep it going,” he said to Dennehy. “… the jumping part is easy. It’s the technical aspects of the jump I find a little harder but in terms of the natural spring, that’s the easy part. I just have to stay patient, stay tall throughout the running and get straight up. Sometimes, I tend not to do it, or I take too many jumps in order to get to the right position, but I just have to keep working.”

The Bahamian veteran high jumper will celebrate his 40th birthday next July, a few weeks before the start of what he anticipates will be his fifth straight appearance at the Olympics. The 2024 Summer Olympics is set for July 26 to August 11, 2024, in Paris, France.

Thomas hasn’t revealed any plans for his immediate future, simply stating that he’ll take it one day at a time and continue to give his best effort.

Whatever avenue he takes, he will go down in history as one of the most durable and consistent performers for The Bahamas in Bahamian athletics. He is also one of The Bahamas’ most decorated athletes ever.

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