Jude's golden run caps extraordinary elite effort
FRESH from two outstanding performances at the Oceania championships, Jude Thomas celebrated with another 22km run.
The Karalee athlete ran out to Swanbank and back to stretch his legs and quietly reflect on his latest achievement.
Having already excelled at the national titles, Thomas showed his international quality by winning a gold and silver medal at the Oceania Athletics Championships in Townsville last week.
The Ipswich and District Athletics Club runner won a silver in the under-18 1500m before backing up two days later to clinch gold in the combined U18/U20 3000m.
At an event featuring more than 750 athletes from 23 countries, Thomas defied an extra challenge to continue his incredible progress in the sport. He set an Oceania meet record (8.36.91) during his 3000m victory.
"It was really tough conditions and I nearly got a PB (personal best) so I'm pretty happy with it,'' Thomas said.
"It was just unbelievably windy. I've never run in winds like that.
"You had to push through every step.''
Coached by Ipswich icon Peter Reeves, Thomas ran superbly over the last 200m to beat a number of older athletes.
"I'm going really well since nationals and I've picked it up a lot,'' he said.
In the earlier U18 1500m, Thomas also recorded a fantastic time of 3.53.97 - a PB of 0.09 seconds.
"I was happy with the time,'' he said.
"It was quite windy and I ran as hard as I could the whole way pretty much.''
He finished behind the national champion, who just beat Thomas earlier the year at the Australian championships.
Another Ipswich club athlete Kirra Csurhes also excelled in Townsville, winning a silver in the U20 100m hurdles.
Thomas was thrilled to see Csurhes rewarded after being able to watch her warm up before she raced.
After recording a time of 14.71 seconds, she just edged out a New Zealander by thousandths of a second.
"Kirra had to wait until Friday after arriving with the team on Monday, getting in final training sessions as required,'' proud coach Vic Pascoe said.
"It was a nervous few days but in the end all the training had paid off.''
Pascoe believes she has further improvement to come.
Thomas, 17, is also in the same positive mindset preparing to contest this weekend's Gold Coast 10km event.
"I'm not calling it yet but I want to try and get close to the record there (30 minutes, 28 seconds) for the under-18 10k,'' Thomas said.
"I'm feeling probably the best I've ever been.''
Thomas appreciated having his family trackside in Townsville to cheer him on.
His dad Michael, mum Maree and brother Jack shared in his wonderful double achievement.
International athletic insights
Highly touted year 12 St Edmund's College student Thomas enjoyed the experience at his first Oceania championships, staying with the Aussie team at a university.
"I handled it pretty well,'' dual medal-winner Thomas said.
"The event is a big step up from the nationals because it's treated way more professionally.
"There was a lot of team talks, a lot of information and we did all these drug testing programs.''
Thomas was among the competitors drug tested on the first night, exposing him to more higher level athletic requirements.
The Oceania Athletic Championships were given a higher status by the IAAF to help athletes gain valuable competition leading up to the world championships later this year and the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.