UT Austin Sprinter Gabby Thomas Sets Sights on Paris 2024 Olympic Gold
Learn about the remarkable journey of U.S. National Champion Sprinter Gabby Thomas and her quest to become the fastest woman alive
In the exhilarating world of sprinting, one name is shining brighter than one name is shining brighter than most: Gabby Thomas.
The effervescent 26-year-old’s journey has taken her from the heart of Atlanta to Harvard to Tokyo and finally to Austin, where she currently trains following the completion of her Master of Public Health at the University of Texas. After winning bronze in the women’s 200m and silver in the women’s 4x100m relay at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Thomas is the current U.S. national champion in the women’s 200m sprint. And this summer she came in second at the World Championship to Shericka Jackson, who is considered the “fastest woman alive.”
Needless to say, her path has been marked by resilience, determination and sheer speed.
Thomas’s sprinting adventure began when her mom persuaded her to join the middle school track team. At first it was just another extracurricular activity, as she dabbled in various sports like basketball and soccer. But track and field gradually emerged as her natural calling, and in her junior year of high school, Thomas started taking the sport seriously, setting goals that would later catch the eye of colleges and eventually lead her to Harvard University.
“I just started running one day and never stopped,” Thomas laughs.
Making a difference in Austin on and off the track
Balancing academics and athletics, Thomas majored in neurobiology and global health at Harvard. She proved she wasn’t just a force on the track but also a dedicated student who excelled in both fields. After leaving Harvard, she came to train in Austin while earning her master’s degree. But the city isn’t just her training ground; it’s also where she’s committed to making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged populations, particularly women of color, addressing healthcare access disparities.
In 2021, Thomas stormed into the record books by setting the U.S. record in the women’s 200m, with an astonishing time of 21.61 seconds. This achievement didn’t just make her the fastest woman in the country; it made her the second-fastest woman in the history of the 200m worldwide. Representing the U.S. at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were held in 2021 due to the pandemic, Thomas made her nation proud. She secured a bronze medal in the women’s 200m and earned a silver as a vital part of the women’s 4x100m relay.
While the 100m and 200m have been her strongholds, Thomas is not one to shy away from new obstacles. In 2023, she fearlessly ventured into the 400m, demonstrating her versatility and determination.
“The grittiest athletes do it — the people who are really willing to put themselves on the line to train really hard and to fight through physical and mental drawbacks,” Thomas explains. “The 200m is my baby, but I see myself as a really gritty athlete, so it’s a good fit.”
Overcoming injury and emerging better than ever
This year also marked a triumphant comeback for Thomas after a hamstring injury in the previous season. Her resilience and determination were on full display as she sprinted to a personal best of 21.60 seconds in the 200m – then the fastest time of 2023. Thomas isn’t just participating; she’s striving for the gold.
Competing at the World Championships in 2023 was an exhilarating experience. It was her first-ever appearance at the event, and it came with a sizable crowd, which was missing during the COVID-affect- ed Olympics. Navigating the pressure with unwavering focus, she had her friends and family cheering her on from the stands. She earned a silver medal, with Jackson on top of the podium. Racing against the fastest woman alive is a thrilling challenge for Thomas — she has immense respect for Jackson’s talent and work ethic and uses the competition as motivation to push her limits.
“It’s amazing to be surrounded by women like Shericka and others because women’s sprints right now are just on fire,” she says. “It’s so incredible in a way that I don’t know if it’s ever been. It’s a fun thing to be a part of, and I think we’re pushing each other.”
Chasing the Olympics and setting future goals
As Thomas gears up for the Olympics, she’s building a solid foundation and maintaining discipline to prevent injuries. Her experience and determination set her apart from her earlier Olympic endeavors. The added pressure only fuels her excitement as she aims to overcome it and set the stage for greatness.
“The stage in my career I’m at is what sets great athletes apart from good ones. Doing things one time is really impressive, and it’s really cool. But being able to maintain that over a long course of time is what makes people legendary.”
Looking beyond the 2024 Olympics, her journey extends beyond the track. After finishing her master’s earlier this year, Thomas currently works at a volunteer healthcare clinic downtown offering essential services to those without insurance. Her aspirations extend to a career in healthcare administration and running her own nonprofit to give back to the community.
Thomas’s future is teeming with opportunities and goals, reflecting her unrelenting commitment to making a difference and striving to meet — and exceed — her goals. But mostly, she’s eyeing those Paris Olympics.
“I do feel like 2024 is my year!”