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Thomas going after national record in 2014

He feels that Troy Kemp’s 19-year-old mark is attainable
  • Donald Thomas said that his main goal for the 2014 season is to break Troy Kemp’s 19-year-old national record, a mark of 2.38 meters (7 feet, 9 and 3/4 inches). Thomas attempted the height at the Moscow World Championships, but fell short. FILE

Guardian Sports Editor

Published: Oct 29, 2013

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Having finished 2013 as the sixth best high jumper in the world, with a bad back, former world champion Donald Thomas is setting lofty goals for 2014!

The Bahamian high jump sensation said that his major goal is to erase Troy Kemp’s 19-year-old national record, a mark of 2.38 meters (m) - 7’ 9-3/4”, which was done in Nice, France, the same year that Kemp won the world title.

This year’s Moscow World Championships was one of the most intense ever, in terms of the men’s high jump. It took a championships record performance of 2.41m (7’ 10-3/4”) by Bohdan Bondarenko of the Ukraine to win the gold medal, and 2.38m took silver and bronze. Thomas, the 2007 World Champion, finished sixth with a season’s best leap of 2.32m (7’ 7-1/4”), just three centimeters off his personal best of 2.35m (7’ 8-1/2”).

Close to 100 percent after a nagging back injury hampered most of his 2013 campaign, he believes that the time is now for him to reach unforeseen heights.

“Hopefully next year, I don’t have to deal with injuries and all the things that bothered me this year,” said Thomas. “I’m just looking for big things now. My main goal is to get that national record. I feel that it is attainable, based on the way I finished 2013. Just entering the season healthy will be a welcomed change, and I think it will set me up to have a great season. I’m a hard worker. I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing, and hope for the best.”

Thomas has already started his offseason training for the 2014 season. He intends to compete indoors and outdoors this coming season, with his primary focus being on the 2014 World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. At the latter, he will be the only Bahamian defending a title.

“The Commonwealth Games has always been high on my agenda, and now I get to go as the defending champion. Hopefully, I will be able to defend it successfully,” said Thomas. “I just want to thank everyone for their continued support - all of my family and friends, and of course Corporate Bahamas, and all of the sponsors who stepped up to the forefront this year. Also, I have to thank the doctors who worked on us in Moscow. They were giving us treatment on a daily basis, and getting us ready to compete. Without them, we wouldn’t have performed at our best.”

At the Moscow World Championships, Thomas said that he was still being bothered by the back injury that he suffered earlier in the year. Still, he was able to finish sixth among more than 30 jumpers.

“I really wanted a medal - that was something that I fell short of, but I just thank God that I was able to compete and compete at a high level,” said Thomas. “I competed in what most consider as the toughest world championships high jump event ever. It took 2.41m to win the gold and that was a championship record. It took 2.38m for third, and that has gotten the gold in quite a number of world championships, and 2.32m where I finished would have gotten you a medal at the past two world championships and the Olympics. The level of competition is very high right now. I think if I focus on getting The Bahamas’ national record, everything else will fall into place. That is what you need to be jumping to get into the top two now. I’m confident that I could do it.”

Thomas actually attempted 2.38m in going after the bronze medal in Moscow. He passed on 2.35m, and barely fell short at the 2.38m height. Now, he says that he definitely feels a lot better than he did in Moscow. Young Ryan Ingraham, 20, joined him in that high jump final, finishing in a three-way tie for 10th overall, with a best clearance of 2.25m (7’ 4-1/2”).

“Overall, it was a good experience in Moscow. It was good to have two Bahamians in the high jump final,” said Thomas. “All of the preparation leading up to worlds went well, and then we performed well when we got there. The young guys are here - they are world-class athletes. Ryan was in the final with me, and only 12 guys made the final. I would like to see him on the international circuit to get more exposure and experience, but he is getting there. Jamal Wilson is another top athlete. He also has the potential to compete at the highest level, and then hopefully Trevor (former World bronze medalist Trevor Barry) comes back healthy next year. We have a good crop of high jumpers who could make this country proud for many years to come.”

Thomas hopes to get his indoor season started at the end of January in Europe. He finished 2013 as the highest individual ranking Bahamian on the International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) Top Performance List.

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