John Thomas (athlete)

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Athlete John Thomas 1960.jpg
John Thomas in 1960
Personal information
Born March 3, 1941
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Died January 15, 2013 (aged 71)
Brockton, Massachusetts, US
Height 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
Weight 88 kg (194 lb)
Sport
Sport High jump
Club Boston Athletic Association

John Curtis Thomas (March 3, 1941 – January 15, 2013)[1] was an American track and field athlete who set several world records in the high jump using the straddle technique. As a youth, he earned the Eagle Scout award. At the age of 17, while a freshman at Boston University, Thomas became the first man to clear 7 feet (2.13 m) indoors. He subsequently pushed the world indoor record to 7'1½" (2.17 m), and broke the world outdoor record three times, with a career best jump of 7'3¾" (2.22 m) in 1960 while just 20 years old.

Thomas' meteoric career briefly captivated the track world, but he failed to win an Olympic gold medal, despite being favored to win in both his efforts. In 1960, he took the bronze medal behind Russia's Robert Shavlakadze (gold), and Valeriy Brumel (silver). In 1964 he was bested again by Brumel, who cleared the same top height as Thomas, but was declared the winner based on fewer misses at lower heights. His failure in 1960 on Thursday 1 September was accompanied by other failures that day by American favorites and the day become renowned as 'Black Thursday'.[2]

He is an inductee of the USATF Hall of Fame.[3]

Jumping orientation[edit]

Thomas planted his left foot for take-off and high kicked with his right leg that would lead over the bar.

Biography[edit]

Thomas was born in Boston and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father Curtis was a bus driver and his mother Ida was a kitchen employee at Harvard University.[4]

He graduated from Boston University in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in physical and psychological rehabilitation.[4]

Thomas retired from competition at the age of 27 and became a businessman. He later served as an assistant coach at Boston University and athletic director at Roxbury Community College.[4]

Thomas died at age 71 while undergoing vascular surgery at a Brockton, Massachusetts hospital.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Millrose Legend John Thomas Passes". armorytrack. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  2. ^ John Thomas. sports-reference.com
  3. ^ John Thomas. USATF Hall of Fame
  4. ^ a b c d Trounson, Rebecca. (2013, January 24). John Thomas dies at 71' U.S. high jumper medaled in two Olympics. The Los Angeles Times.
Records
Preceded by
Soviet Union Yuri Stepanov
Men's High Jump World Record Holder
1960-04-30 – 1961-06-18
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Valeriy Brumel