Co-captain Gabby Thomas faced the elements to compete in the 200-meter final race. She placed second—one spot better than her finish in the previous two outdoor seasons at the national meet.
“It’s an improvement, not where I wanted to be this season, but I’m happy with it, I’m happy with second,” Thomas said. “Obviously I wanted to come in first, given where my season’s been and how I’ve been doing and how I’ve progressed.”
The finish follows Thomas’ collegiate record-breaking 200-meter dash in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Final. With the victory, Thomas became the first Ivy League sprinter to every hoist a National title in the indoor arena.
“It’s a little disappointing coming back from indoors to get second, but again, better than my last two years here,” Thomas said. “I’m not too upset about it.”
For her efforts in the race, Thomas was awarded USTFCCCA Northeast Women’s Track Athlete of the Year.
The NCAA race represented the end of the collegiate season, and with that conclusion most track athletes went home to rest after the two seasons (indoor and outdoor) of running. Thomas went to Switzerland.
“I have had a very long collegiate season, but I’m coming off of a really successful and motivating season as well,” Thomas said in a video interview with Harvard Athletics. “My indoor season went better than I could’ve expected for myself and then I had a pretty strong outdoor season just on upward spiral, consistently PR-ing which is what you want. This summer has just be a continuing of that.”
Competing in her first ever IAAF Diamond League race, Thomas hopped on a plan to Lausanne, Switzerland. Among the field of professionals, world champions and Olympians, was Shericka Jackson of Jamaica—an Olympian that donned the bronze medal in 400-meter and the silver in the 4x400-meter relay at the game in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
In the Diamond League race on July 5, Thomas claimed gold. She defeated the field by .21 seconds running a 22.47 race. Jackson fell to third and the next closest American, Kimberlyn Duncan, finished fifth.
The race was the beginning of a five-meet summer saga and two months of travel for the athlete that culminated in a final race in Brussels.
Next in the itinerary was a dip into Morocco. Racing in Rabat, Thomas’ second race wasn’t as golden as her first. In the 200-meter final, the Harvard co-captain competed in a heat that featured a meet-record time of 22.29. Thomas placed in fourth with a 22.70 race. The finish fell .1 seconds behind the fastest American present, Jenna Prandini.
Prandini was not just the fastest American present at the race that day, on June 24, Prandini won the USA Championships in the 200-meter dash. She is the fastest 200-meter runner in America, period.
The IAAF Diamond League London race told a more dramatic story. Thomas began the race slow, falling near the pack of the pack by the 100-meter mark. A surge on the straightaway propelled the Florence, Mass., native to the front of the pack, just in time to grab the silver medal. The 22.19 finish represents a personal best for Thomas. Only Prandini — also setting a personal best — outpaced the senior with a 22.16 race.
July turned into August and Thomas just kept running against the best in the world. Thomas finished in sixth at Birmingham and then again at the Diamond League final in Brussels — both times one spot behind Prandini.
“It’s really exciting because I didn’t actually plan on going to the Diamond League final and finishing my season so late, but I had a good bit of success in the earlier half of the summer,” Thomas told Harvard Athletics. “This summer definitely helps in terms of a lot of growth and maturity, a lot of self-reflection, a lot of growing this summer. With all this competition at all of these meets comes a lot of experience.”
—Staff writer Cade Palmer can be reached at email@example.com.
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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New Track Season Has Thomas Aiming HighThree 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.
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