The joy on Gabby Thomas’s face as she stormed to a stupendous win in the 200 meters in the Paris Diamond League. Gabby is a tremendously talented and tremendously exciting athlete, and Stuart tells us about her wonderful race and some time he spent with her being diverted to Pisa, Italy instead of Florence a week ago. 

Gabby Thomas wins the 200

I was delighted that Gabby Thomas won the 200 for several reasons.  The result was:

1 Gabby Thomas 22.05

2 Abby Steiner 22.34

3 Ma Jo Ta Lou 22.34

4 Dina Asher-Smith 22.57

Ta Lou has won two 100 races this year, running 10.78 and 10.82, but in Paris, she was third by 2 thousandths of a second.  Her own assessment was very positive: “Great day at the office. Happy with my time. Work in progress. Will be there soon”.  Dina Asher-Smith running her second race of the season and her first 200, expressed herself disappointed as she thinks she is “in better shape” than the time suggested.  She added that it was early season and there would be lots of time to learn from it and improve.

Marie-Josée Ta Lou Wins the Women’s 100m with a time of 10.97 at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Rome/Florence, Italy on 2 June 2023, photo by Matthew Quine for Diamond League AG.

Then there was Gabby Thomas, who commented afterward: “Last year, I tore my right hamstring two weeks before the trials, I was running really well, but then I had the injury. Today, I am delighted about the victory and the time. I am so excited. It was a strong field; everybody talked about Dina and Marie Jose. I am really happy about how the race went for me. Now I am looking forward to the US trials. I need to stay injury free”. 

As I said, I have “previous” [UK cop slang] with Gabby. We spent an unhappy three hours together last weekend.  We were both on the London flight to Florence, which was diverted to Pisa.  Getting off the plane – there was only one bus available – getting our luggage, going through passport control, finding the bus to Florence, finding the Golden Gala desk, finding the police van (don’t ask!) to take us to the hotel. Gabby was remarkably good company, given that she had traveled from Texas most of the previous day without much sleep.

Gabby Thomas, at the IAAF Diamond League on May 21st 2022, photo by Martin Bateman

I had met Gabby in Birmingham last year, where she told me about her Master’s degree in epidemiology, partly with an eye on the future but also because the experience of being a student and an athlete worked well as an undergraduate at Harvard. She talked about balance: “It is great to go from track practice to studies.  If I have a bad track session, instead of going home and thinking about it over and over again, I get on with my academic work. And instead of sitting around when I have done my work, I get to go out and do track.  I am just one of those people who needs that kind of balance in their life, and I really appreciate that”.

 She told me in Paris that she had just finished her Master’s two weeks ago.  PhD next?  All she would say was, “Not right away!” I love to ask sprinters about the balance between 100 and 200. I have asked Dina at least 10 times over the years, but she will never admit to preferring one over the other.  Gabby also sits on the fence: “That is hard to say.  The 200 is my pride and joy. I execute it so well and do it like a walk now.  It is my favorite race. But the 100 is so exciting, and it comes with so much energy, and everyone wants to watch it. So I would love to be a part of that too”.

Don’t be surprised to see her succeed in both distances.