TOKYO, Japan ‑ It was a tough outing for Bahamians Donald Thomas and Jamal Wilson on Friday, as they struggled to get into a rhythm, and consequently, failed to move into the final of the men’s high jump at the Tokyo Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Thomas and Wilson got the competition started in the athletics portion of the Games of the 32nd Olympiad for The Bahamas.
Both jumpers knocked down the bar twice at the opening height of 2.17 meters (m) – 7′ 1-1/4″ – before going over on a third attempt each.
Wilson failed on all three of his attempts at 2.21m (7′ 3″) while Thomas once again needed three attempts to clear the bar.
Competing out of Group ‘A’, Thomas struggled again at 2.25m (7′ 4-1/2″), knocking the bar down on all three attempts at that height.
Thomas, 37, and Wilson, 32, wrapped up the qualifying round 25th and 32nd respectively, not good enough to move on to the final as only the 12 best jumpers qualified.
The heights for Thomas and Wilson, 2.21m and 2.17m, were significantly off their season best performances of 2.28m (7′ 5-3/4″) and 2.24m (7′ 4″) respectively, but just to reach the Olympics, competing against the best 32 high jumpers in the world, is an accomplishment.
Competing out of Group ‘B’, Wilson was able to get over the bar at his opening height but failed on all three attempts at 2.21m. He said it was a tough year and he’s just grateful to be competing on the world biggest stage for athletics. Thomas, now 14 years removed from his world title, declined comment afterwards.
“It was a tough day, but it was a tough year all around. I just give God the glory for being in this position,” said Wilson. “When we athletes have a tough season, it’s always hard, but it puts things into perspective. We learn our lessons through failure. I’m hoping to get back and continue to work hard. I’m going to continue to enjoy the summer, give God the glory, and whatever next year brings, that’s what it brings.”
Speaking about the difficulties of training and maintaining fitness in a COVID environment, Wilson said it’s been a tough journey to the Olympics over the past two years. He qualified for the Olympics in February 2020, leaping the qualifying height of 2.33m (7′ 7-3/4″) at the Banskobystrická latka Gold Level Meet in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. Thomas qualified on world ranking points.
Wilson said the entre preparation for the Olympics, form an athletics standpoint, leaves much to be desired.
“For the whole year, the preparation going into the Olympics was an issue,” he said. “We need to put aside the politics in The Bahamas and focus more on the development of the athletes. The guys who made the final today, they are capable, but we’re all capable. We’re here for a reason. We need doctors, physiotherapists, and we need things in place to help us be better prepared for moments like these. This is a big moment and being more prepared is the key to experiencing success.”
The COVID-19 pandemic posed a threat to the occurrence of the Olympics over the past two years and disrupted training cycles and cancelled qualifying meets. It certainly didn’t help with the preparation tactics for many of the world’s top athletes leading into the Olympics. Wilson said it was a challenge and he applauds all of the athletes who were able to qualify in trying times.
As to adjusting to the COVID-19 environment in the Olympic Village, and Tokyo on the whole, Wilson said it’s been pretty much a smooth process with all of the safety measures and protocols that are in place.
“There are formalities every step of the way and that makes it tough but the people are very hospitable and they are doing a great job of keeping us safe and contained,” he said.
A dozen jumpers cleared 2.28m on Friday, qualifying for the men’s high jump final that took place on Sunday. Three more jumpers cleared 2.25m and Thomas was one of nine who got over the bar at 2.21m. Wilson followed as one of seven jumpers who cleared the opening height of 2.17m.
For Thomas, the 2.28m qualifying height for the final is a mark he’s cleared multiple times, including earlier this season at the ATLETICAGENEVE Meet in Genève, Switzerland.
Wilson had his share of challenges in 2021, but said he’s optimistic for what’s to come in 2022.