From heartbreak to triumph: Sprinter Lanae-Tava Thomas' transfer to Jamaica opens door to 2024 Paris Olympics

By January 19, 2024

In the world of athletics, dreams are often forged on the track, shaped by the relentless pursuit of excellence. For Lanae-Tava Thomas, a 22-year-old sprinter with aspirations of donning the vibrant colors of Jamaica at the 2024 Paris Olympics, the journey has been one of resilience, determination, and a rollercoaster of emotions.

A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, where she shared the track with compatriot Kevona Davis and St Lucia's track sensation Julien Alfred, Lanae-Tava Thomas boasts impressive personal bests of 11.06 in the 100m and 22.38 in the 200m. Born in Jamaica and educated at Vaz Prep, she migrated to the United States over a decade ago and pursued her studies in Human Biology at the University of Texas.

Thomas's desire to represent Jamaica led her to initiate the complex process of transferring allegiance from the United States. However, administrative roadblocks threatened to shatter her dreams, as she discovered last July after the Jamaica national championships to select a team for the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Devastated after finishing third in the 200m, Thomas believed she had secured a spot on her first national team for the World Championships, only to learn that her transfer had not been completed. In an exclusive interview, Thomas recounted the emotional turmoil she experienced during that tumultuous period.

“I was informed (by World Athletics) that whenever I sent through the transfer, it was completed. I was informed that it was already completed by the time I started competing (at the national championships). So then we got there they said that I needed to get a passport or something like that for the transfer to be… I don't even remember the term they used,” Thomas revealed.

The confusion persisted as Thomas, armed with the belief that her transfer was complete, faced further setbacks at the national stadium after advancing to the finals of the 200m.

 

 “They (meet officials) kept leaving me off the finals board, saying that I couldn't compete in the finals because of something to do with the transfer. And I said ‘No, my transfer was already completed, I have the passport and everything was already set, which is what both I and JAAA had thought."

Yet, the twist of fate unfolded when World Athletics emailed her coach Eldrick Floreal, revealing the transfer was not completed due to a scheduling change. Thomas, left in the dark, faced the harsh reality that she would miss the World Championships despite her outstanding performance.

“It was traumatic. After the national championship, I was so excited. I feel like as a track and field athlete, the two things you look forward to are World Championships and Olympics," she said. "So competing and making it into the World Championship, not because of any technicality but because you actually run and place, that's like a great thing for you to achieve, it's just something that is very hard to do, especially for Jamaica."

Reflecting on the moment she discovered she wasn't on the team to Budapest, Thomas shared, "It was very devastating. They didn't notify me whatsoever when they posted the list online of all the athletes competing for Jamaica, and I wasn't on it. That's when I was notified. No one, no one like World Athletics, nobody had told me personally that I wasn't competing."

 

Despite the heartbreak, Thomas remained resilient. The completion of her transfer of allegiance in October 2023 opened the door to a renewed sense of hope and determination. As she anticipates the Jamaica national championships in June, where a top-three finish secures her spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics, Thomas, who signed a professional contract with PUMA following the Jamaican trials, is eager to make a statement.

“It feels so great. All I will say is that they better be ready for me. I already competed last year and proved that we can do what we can do. They're not supposed to expect nothing less. I'm just going to get there and do what I've been doing, what I can do, and what I have done in the past. Nobody can stop me from there," she declared with confidence.

 

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

  • Frazsiers Whip to represent Jamaica in inaugural Concacaf Women's Champions Cup Frazsiers Whip to represent Jamaica in inaugural Concacaf Women's Champions Cup

    As expected, Frazsiers Whip will be Jamaica’s representative in the inaugural Concacaf Women’s Champions Cup, a new annual tournament that includes the best clubs from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean and crowns the region’s women’s club champion.

    The tournament is also the sole path through which clubs in Concacaf can qualify for the new FIFA Women’s Club World Cup, which FIFA has committed to launching in the near future.

    By virtue of winning the 2022/23 Jamaica Women’s Premier League, Frazsiers Whip booked their spot for the first edition of the competition, which will feature 11 clubs from seven Member Associations.

    The other confirmed participants are Canada’s 2023 League One Women’s Inter-Provincial Championship winners Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Costa Rica’s LD Alajuelense, Mexico’s Tigres UANL Femenil, as well as the United States trio of Gotham FC, San Diego Wave FC and Portland Thorns FC.

    El Salvador and Panama are yet to confirm their representatives for their solitary spots, while Mexico’s two other representatives will be known at the conclusion of the Liga MX Clausura.

    GILBERT...it is more football and more exposure for our local players.

    Interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert, who guided Frazsiers Whip to league honours, welcomed the move by Concacaf, which he believes will offer some exposure for local players, despite the gulf in class between other leagues around the region and Jamaica's Women's League.

    "It's important for local football, however, I don't think any of our local teams will be able to match up with the teams from Mexico or United States. Those clubs are professional clubs playing in a fully professional leagues, while ours is nowhere close to their standard," Gilbert told SportsMax.TV in a recent interview.

    "But it is good, it is more football and more exposure for our local players. At the same time, I think it sends a signal of how important it is for us to look at what we are doing in terms of resources and surfaces for our local teams. So, it is good move by Concacaf, and I think it's for us now here in Jamaica to look at what we are doing and try to improve the quality of our league," he added.

    The official draw for the tournament is scheduled for June 6.

    Action in the Concacaf Women’s Champions Cup is expected to get underway in August, with a Preliminary Round, followed by Group and Knockout Stage play. The Preliminary Round Play-in will be a single-leg match between two clubs, with the winner advancing to the Group Stage. 

    The Group Stage will feature 10 clubs divided into two groups of five clubs each. Each club will play every club in its group once, for a total of four matches per club (two at home and two away). At the conclusion of Group Stage play, the group winners and runners-up (four clubs) will progress to the competition’s final four. 

    The semifinals, third-place encounter, and final, where the first-ever Concacaf Women’s Champions Cup winners will be crowned, will be centralized in a venue to be announced.

  • Hughes targets Olympic glory; expects Racers Grand Prix to offer taste of potential Paris test Hughes targets Olympic glory; expects Racers Grand Prix to offer taste of potential Paris test

    Winning a first global individual medal at last year’s World Championships whetted Zharnel Hughes’s appetite for more success, and so it comes as no surprise that the Anguillan-born Great Britain sprint sensation is strongly optimistic about clinching a medal at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

    In fact, if Hughes’s confidence to top his performances from last year is anything to go by, then he could very well accomplish the feat, provided he maintains a clean bill of health throughout the season.

    During last year’s electrifying campaign, which ended with his World Championships bronze in the men’s 100m final, Hughes broke Olympic champion Linford Christie’s 100m British national record when he clocked a personal best 9.83 seconds at the New York Grand Prix, in June.

    A month later, at the UK Athletics Championship, Hughes ran a brisk 19.77s, which is faster than John Regis’s national 200m record, but the time was wind-aided and, as such, was recognised as a record. However, Hughes, with his superb form, inevitably established a new record when he clocked a wind-legal 19.73s at the London Diamond League.

    With that in mind, coupled with his relentless work ethic and resolute pursuit of excellence, Hughes is poised to make another significant impact on the world stage this year. Whether or not it will be an Olympic gold medal triumph is left to be seen.

    “It's the Olympic year, so obviously you want to better what you did last year. I'm happy with how last year turned out for me, and this year is very much more exciting. I'm preparing myself nicely. I'm feeling fit and ready to go. Obviously as an athlete, you want to lower your personal best every year, but unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't work out like that. But I'm definitely aiming to lower my personal best both in the 100m and 200m,” Hughes declared.

    “I'm in good shape and I’m excited. I've definitely counted myself as one of them (athletes) to be reckoned with (for an Olympic gold medal). I'm never going to count myself out now because you've seen what happened last year, and I'm excited to top my performance from last year,” he added.

    Though he 48.25s in a 400m run in February, followed by a 20.40s-clocking in March, the 28-year-old pointed out that he is yet to really hit top gear in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games, but is aiming to do so at the sixth edition of the Racers Grand Prix, on June 1, at Jamaica's National Stadium.

    At the Racers Grand Prix, Hughes will line up alongside Racers Track Club teammate Oblique Seville and American World champion Noah Lyles in the 100m, which he considers a good prelude for what could come at the Paris Games.

    “I'm looking forward to it, I was listening for who was going to be there; Oblique and I have been training pretty good and I know both of us representing coach Glen Mills, will be bringing it on the day. So, I look forward to who's in the field, especially with Lyles being there,” Hughes said.

    “This race is to get you prepared for what's to come later in the summer. So, to have great competition like that at the Racers Grand Prix is just a great indicator to see where we're at, and what we can tweak going into our national trials, because my trials will be the latter part of June. So, for me, I'm looking forward to this race and the following week I'll have the European Championships as well. So, it'll be a great indicator for me,” he shared.

    Working tirelessly under the watchful eyes of decorated coach Mills, Hughes, a four-time European Champion, has upped the ante in the gym to improve his strength, as he is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for Olympic glory.

    “My training has been going tremendously well. I'm excited to open up properly (at Racers Grand Prix) because my first race wasn't so good because I had a little niggle, but I've overcome that now and I'm very excited to see what's there. I've worked on my strength a lot, physically, I'm a lot stronger and I just want to keep on top of my mental health as well,” Hughes revealed.

    “Those things are very crucial going into an Olympic year, so you have to be very focused. You have to ensure that your body is properly fit as well in order to go there to give the best that you're looking for. So, I'm pretty sharp on keeping my mental focus up and ensuring that I'm properly recovered,” he ended.

  • Penn Relays Meet Director anticipates thrilling High School Boys 4x400m relay showdown: Will Bullis break the Jamaican dominance? Penn Relays Meet Director anticipates thrilling High School Boys 4x400m relay showdown: Will Bullis break the Jamaican dominance?

    Aaron Robison, the Meet Director of the Penn Relays, is brimming with excitement ahead of the Championship of America 4x400m relays for High School Boys, set to unfold at Franklin Field over the next three days. The 128th staging of the prestigious meet begins on Thursday, April 25 and concludes on Saturday, April 27.

    The meet director since 2021, Robison predicts a spectacular display of athletic talent, particularly focusing on the highly anticipated showdown in the high school boys' 4x400m relay on the final day of the meet.

    "The high-school boys 4x400m is going to be unbelievable!" exclaimed Robison. "Five teams have run 3:10 or faster, four of those are Jamaican, and then you've got Bullis High School with Quincy Wilson on the anchor; I'm telling you, that story is going to write itself."

    Robison highlighted Wilson from Bullis High School, whose outstanding performance at the Florida Relays with a time of 45.19 seconds has created a buzz leading up to the Penn Relays. Wilson's impressive anchor leg last year, clocking a 45.06 split, is a testament to his exceptional talent and determination.

    "He is one of those kids that has this fire," Robison remarked. "If he takes the baton as the anchor and he is in third or fourth, we're going to see something special as all four or five of those teams come through. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see three or four teams run 3:05. It's going to be crazy."

    Reflecting on the historical dominance of Jamaican high schools in this event, Robison acknowledged the formidable challenge facing USA high schools. The last USA high school to win the 4x400m Championship of America was Long Beach Poly back in 2007. The last 16 years have seen Jamaican schools dominate the event, and that dominance could extend into a 17th year.

    Despite this, Bullis High School, boasting a recent time of 3:11.87, is poised to challenge the Jamaican powerhouses. Robison expressed optimism about Wilson's potential impact on the relay's outcome, particularly against strong competitors from schools like Kingston College (3:07.65) and Jamaica College (3:08.79), known for their impressive 4x400m relay performances.

    “If he gets a baton in his hand with people to chase, who knows what he can run…whether it’s JC or even Hydel that has run 3:10, with kids that have also run 45-point, so we’re going to see something special.

    "We just pray for good weather and good health," Robison concluded.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.