Three and a half years ago, high school junior sprinter Gabby Thomas didn’t think she was going to make it as a college athlete. Two wildly successful NCAA seasons and an impressive array of records later, the Thomas now has her sights set on loftier goals: a NCAA national title and the 2020 Olympics.
“In high school, I didn’t really think that I was going to do a sport in college, up until the end of my junior year when I started getting recruited for track,” Thomas said. “I thought, ‘okay, I’ll go run track at school and I’ll get some good opportunities from that.’ When I got here, it was still just a fun thing for me, and it wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that I saw how far I could really go with it.”
There seems to be no limit for how far she can go. In her first two years running for Harvard, Thomas has already amassed enough accolades for four years.
During her freshman year, Thomas didn’t wait long to start etching her name into the history books, setting school and Ivy League records in the outdoor 100-meter, 200-meter and indoor 60-meter. She was also part of the team which set school 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay records.
She went on to finish the season as the Ivy League Champion in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4x100-meter relay in the outdoor events, and 60-meter, 200-meter, long jump and 4x400-meter relay in the indoor events.
This stunning performance sent her to the NCAA Outdoor National Championships, where she finished third in the 200-meter with a personal best time of 22.47 seconds and was named an All-American for the outdoor 200-meter.
Thomas finished her rookie season with a chance to turn heads at more than just the collegiate level, too. Her performance at the NCAA Championships was enough to book her a spot at the U.S.A. Track & Field (USATF) Olympic Trials, where she competed in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, finishing sixth overall in the latter—below the threshold to secure a spot at the Olympics.
Thomas continued to show her prowess in her sophomore year, setting personal bests in the 100-meter dash and the long jump, with a time of 11.24 seconds and a distance of a 6.27 meters, respectively.
She again finished third at NCAA Championships, receiving first team All-American honors in the 200-meter, and an All-American Honorable Mention for the 100-meter.
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) subsequently declared her the Northeast Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year.
The Florence, Mass., native still isn’t close to done. With two years of eligibility remaining, Thomas approaches track with intentionality and a determination to improve upon her results of the last two years.
“I’m thinking more seriously about what I want to get out of track,” Thomas said. “This upcoming season, my goal is to win a national championship at NCAAs. Moving forward, I’m thinking more along the lines of training post-collegiately, for one extra year, just to try to go to the Olympics one more time, and then see where we go from there.”
With every passing day, and every record that she breaks, the Olympics look more and more like a real possibility for Thomas.
In addition to making waves in the track community, Thomas manages to balance an impressive academic workload.
A neurobiology concentrator, the Florence, Mass., native takes her education just as seriously, if not more, than her athletic endeavors. Despite the amount of time which both school and track take up, she stresses that the formula for balancing these two things is fairly simple.
Athlete of the Week: Thomas Qualifies for 2016 Olympic Trials in 200-Meter DashThis past weekend at the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, N.C., Thomas set three new Ivy records, the most notable being a then-NCAA best time of 23.18 seconds in the 200-meter dash—good enough to automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials.
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Track and Field Advances Four to National ChampionshipsA total of 15 Harvard student-athletes qualified for the NCAA Eastern Preliminary Meet for track and field. After three days of competition, four athletes in five events will advance to the National Outdoor Championships.