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Donald Thomas bounces back

  • Donald Thomas File photo

NG Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: Nov 01, 2011

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The phenomenal career of Donald Thomas continues. It has been truly an amazing run for the Grand Bahama native.

On Thursday (October 27) when he won the Pan American Games high jump gold medal in Guadalajara, Mexico, Thomas cemented his status as the most decorated Bahamian athlete over the last 10 years. His 2.32 meters (m) - 7’ 7-1/4” - effort established him as the Pan Am region’s top high jumper.

Ending the 2011 season in such fashion was an emphatic statement to the world that Thomas remains one of the formidable high jump competitors.

What makes Thomas such a fantastic part of the Bahamian sports mix is the fact that he has just been competing seriously in the high jump event for six years. In that short period, he has won five gold medals for his country (2007 IAAF World Championships, IAAF 2007 World Athletics Final, 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, 2010 Commonwealth Games and now, the 2011 Pan Am Games).

Add to that the 2007 Pan American Games silver medal, also the silver medal at the IAAF 2010 Continental Cup and clearly no other Bahamian athlete has been as successful during the period. In fact, he can even now, justifiably be compared with all of the Bahamian track and field greats, no matter the length of their careers.

The success has been extraordinary for Thomas, given his newness to athletics. While others used a background of competition from their youthful years as the foundation for success, Thomas only took up high jumping following his easy clearance of seven feet when dared to do so by a friend.

His 2.35m personal best stands just under the national record of 2.38m, held by Troy Kemp. The great Cuban Javier Sotomayor, the best ever at high jumping (only human to attain and break the eight feet barrier), earlier on anointed Thomas as his heir apparent. Thomas has had to rebound from circumstances as he matured as an individual and on the international circuit. He cannot yet be compared with Sotomayor. At 27 though, there is the potential for a goodly number of prime years ahead.

What he has done for the glory of his country already however, ought to be recognized. Yet, he has had to endure the indignity of having his subvention lowered. The years 2008 and 2009 saw sub-performances for him but he still competed during that period as well as others who did not have their subventions cut.

Despite a fantastic return to top form in 2010, the necessary adjustment for the Grand Bahamian still was not done. It is incredible that such an elite athlete, who enables Bahamians to hold their heads high and push out their chests in pride, is treated in such a manner. What more can he do to prove that he is entitled to being included in the $34,000 subvention category?

Certainly, no athlete who is now receiving the top category of subvention has outperformed Thomas since he began his career. I call for justice to be done for this young man. Continued best wishes Donald!

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at fredericksturrup@gmail.com)

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