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Olympic Sprint Star and Harvard Alum Gabby Thomas Ready For World Athletic Championships

Gabby Thomas

Gabby Thomas/ Photo Getty Images

Gabby Thomas made a comeback this year and won the women’s 200-meter. Charging to the finish line in a world-leading 21.60 seconds, she left Sha’Carri Richardson in the dust at the U.S. track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon.

The sprint sensation also won an impressive sprint double at the Texas Invitational and earned the recognition as the 24th USATF Athlete of the Week award winner for 2023. As the second fastest woman in the 200-meters, just behind the late track and field legend Florence Griffith Joyner, she did what was needed to qualify for the World Athletic Championships which will be held in Budapest in August.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving elite speed in sprinting. Genetics, training programs, coaching, and personal dedication all play crucial roles in an athlete's journey to becoming a world-class sprinter like Gabby Thomas. Thomas, whose father is Jamaican, credited her Jamaican roots for her incredible speed in a recent press conference ahead of the Monaco leg of the Wanda Diamond League.

When asked about her Jamaican heritage, Thomas responded, “So, my grandfather is actually Jamaican, he lives there, he is from there. My dad didn’t grow up there but he is Jamaican and he always likes to bring the culture home with me and made sure I was proud to be Jamaican.” The Olympic bronze medalist also expressed appreciation for the love and

support she receives from her Jamaican fan base.

A Natural Athlete

Encouraged by her mother, a college professor, Thomas got into running at 13-years-old. She began to take it more seriously during her junior year of high school, although she did not compete in national meets.

Thomas excelled in high school on and off the track. When applying for college, she was encouraged by family to add running on her applications. So, she did, alongside her primary interest, which was to study neurobiology, and track and field coaches took notice. She was offered an athletic scholarship from Harvard University’s track and field team and promptly accepted. And thus began her journey to a historic career.

Achieving a balance between academics and athletics requires dedication, hard work, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Thomas managed the demands of being a student-athlete at the academically rigorous Harvard university while competing at an elite level with pure grit.

From Harvard to the Olympics

Harvard is known for producing presidents and senators but the prestigious university was not known for producing Olympic medalists. While at Harvard, Thomas was named Ivy League’s Most Outstanding Track Performer in 2017 and 2018 and won the 2018 NCAA 200-meter title.

With a successful collegiate running career under her belt, she earned her bachelor's degree in neurobiology and global health from Harvard and went on to pursue her master's in public health at the University of Texas, focusing on epidemiology and health care management.

"It's studying how to prevent diseases, in short," she said in May 2020 on former Harvard teammate Ngozi Musa's Aesthetics & Athletics podcast. "It's important to me just because I really want to focus on preventative medicine and making sure that people are able to take care of themselves in all aspects of their lives, starting from healthy dieting and nutrition habit and then to actual diseases."

Navigating graduate school and sprint training, the decorated athlete qualified for the women’s 200-meter at the Tokyo Olympics at 24-years-old. The women’s 200 meter was stacked with a slew of talented athletes including Jamaican sprinter Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah. Though she was chasing gold, in 20021, Thomas added a bronze Olympic medal to her growing list of accomplishments - an impressive feat none-the-less.

What's Next for Gabby Thomas?

Gabby Thomas's commitment to her education and athletic career is a testament to her determination and discipline. With all that she has achieved so far, she serves as an inspiration to many aspiring student-athletes.

Having recently completed her graduate studies, Thomas's ultimate goal is to manage a hospital, but first, the world is waiting to see her performance at the upcoming World Athletic Championships.


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