Donald Thomas like old wine

PLAYING TO THE CROWD – Grand Bahama native Donald Thomas connects with the crowd at the stadium in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, as he competed in his first event of 2018, last Tuesday eve- ning.

Go online to the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) website, search out Donald Thomas and you would discover that he began his 2018 campaign last Tuesday in Banska, Bystrica in Slovakia.

The 33-year-old former World, Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games, Central American Games gold medalist and Olympic finalist is listed with a 2.31 meters effort. Indeed, he topped out at 2.31 just as did Yu Wang and Mutaz Barshim who were first and second respectively ahead of Thomas, because of fewer misses.

Thomas, the West Grand Bahama native is aging like fine wine. The 2.31 meters (7-6.945 inches) round out to 7’7”. Incredibly, Thomas still has hopes at that level, maintaining his legitimate place among the world’s best high jumpers, going on 11 full years since he won the world championship in 2007.

Once a brash young athlete, Thomas has become refined and modest. He simply informed me of his season-opening performance, satisfied with hitting the 2.30 meters barrier once again, but expressing no surprise. Thomas, although, not able to have the good fortune to get his best jumps every time out, nevertheless, is confident and cognizant of being respectfully recognized the world over.

Indeed, he might well be the most-invited athlete who performs for the Bahamian brand, or equally so with Shaunae Miller–Uibo and Steven Gardiner.’

Yearly, his schedule is dotted with requests from meet directors throughout Asia and Europe. He is quite the attraction as the photo accompanying this column indicates.

In the photo, he performs and interacts with a delighted crowd.

Late last year, when he came home for the funeral of his maternal grandfather, we had a chat and he seemed very confident about the 2018 season.

“I’m feeling fine. My invitations will be there for me as always is the case. So, I will be travelling and competing as is the usual. Towards the end of the season, I caught the flu and it drained me, but I’m feeling good now,” said Thomas.

Obviously he was in fine form in Banska Bystrica on Tuesday evening.

The 2.31 meters was significant because it once more plants Thomas firmly in the leadership role of his specialty event for his country. It is also a qualifying standard and a remarkable way to get a new season going.
The seasoned veteran could be on an early pace for some special moments in competition this year.

My astute young colleagues Sheldon Longley and Randy Smith pointedly referred to Thomas’ ability to be consistent at reaching the 2.30 meters barrier, as the primary reason for The Nassau Guardian rating him No. 3 among the top male athletes for the year 2017.

“He had another year in which he was over 2.30 meters, his fifth straight year,” noted the Guardian’s report on its national Male Athlete of the Year selections.

Well, he has done it again, now, for six consecutive years!
Congratulations Donald!

Best wishes for the remainder of the 2018 season and beyond!.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1505@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).

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