Kurt Thomas (gymnast)
|Representing United States|
|1978 Strasbourg||Floor exercise|
|1979 Ft. Worth||Floor exercise|
|1979 Ft. Worth||Horizontal bar|
|1979 Ft. Worth||All-around|
|1979 Ft. Worth||Parallel bars|
|1979 Ft. Worth||Pommel horse|
|1979 Ft. Worth||Team competition|
|Pan American Games|
|1975 Mexico City||Pommel horse|
|1975 Mexico City||Vault|
|1975 Mexico City||All-around|
|1975 Mexico City||Horizontal bar|
|1978 New York||All-Around|
|1979 New York||All-Around|
|1980 New York||All-Around|
Thomas competed for Indiana State University; where he was a five-time NCAA champion, winning the parallel bars and all-around in 1977 and parallel bars, horizontal bar and the all-around in 1979. Thomas helped lead the men's gymnastics to the 1977 National Championship.
He earned All-America honors 13 times in his career and was the James E. Sullivan award winner in 1979, as well as the 1979 Nissen Award (the "Heisman" of men's gymnastics) awardee. He was inducted into the Indiana State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame in 2010.
Thomas became a member of the US Olympic team at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In 1978, Thomas was the first American male gymnast to win a gold medal in floor exercise in a world championship. In 1979 he became the first gymnast to receive the James E. Sullivan Award for the best amateur athlete in the US and earned six medals at the World Championships, including gold on the horizontal bar and floor exercise, and silver in the all-around, parallel bars, and pommel horse. He was expected by many[who?] to win a gold medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics, but the games were boycotted by the United States government.
Two gymnastic moves were named for him, the Thomas Flair, a pommel horse move, and the Thomas salto, his signature skill on floor exercise, a tucked 1.5 backward salto with 1.5 twist into a roll out (a difficult and dangerous skill even by today's standards). The Thomas Flair on pommel horse, and then also performed on floor, was developed over years by several Pommel Horse specialists. However, in gymnastics, new moves are named in the gymnastics rule book after the gymnast who is the first to perform the move in international competition.
In 1996, Thomas married Rebecca Jones, a dancer who also choreographs gymnastic routines. They have 2 children together, named Kassidy and Hunter Thomas.
In 2003, Kurt was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. He and his wife Rebecca currently operate the Kurt Thomas Gymnastics Training Center in Frisco, Texas. His gym has hosted the USAG-sanctioned Kurt Thomas International Invitational gymnastics meet annually since 2003, and still does it.
Kurt Thomas was recently inducted into yet another Hall of Fame in 2011 and attended a fashion show featuring sports stars with his wife, Beckie.
In popular culture
Thomas starred in the 1985 film Gymkata as an athlete sent by the US government to compete in a deadly competition called "The Game." The film was not a major hit and was poorly received by critics, but has developed somewhat of a cult following due to its unintentional comedy. Thomas also starred in the syndicated TV series True Confessions and has worked as a commentator for ABC Sports and ESPN.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
- "Who Really Invented the Flair" (PDF). International Gymnast Magazine. October 1980.
- "KURT THOMAS". International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- Rabin, Nathan (April 9, 2012). "Gymkata proves that tiny gymnasts make tough heroes". A.V. Club. Retrieved 9 April 2012.