World titles hopeful Jude uses Ipswich humidity to advantage
HAVING qualified for two World Junior Championship events, exceptional Ipswich runner Jude Thomas is soaking up the current hot weather.
While the high humidity provides extra breathing challenges, Thomas knows training in such conditions will ultimately help him if he makes the national team for next year's world titles in Kenya.
"I've been getting up early (around 3.45am). It's like still 80 per cent humidity,'' Thomas said.
"It's hard to escape the heat so you have to tough it out.
"It (Kenya) is only going to be super hot. It's in Nairobi as well which is elevation.
"My coach (Peter Reeves) reckons that apart from training at altitude, the next best way would be training in humidity - to prepare yourself because sometimes it's hard to breathe when it's so humid when you're racing.
"It's just thick air and you just can't get through it.''
Thomas, 18, is on track to make the Australian team for next year's World Junior Championships, set down for August.
Turning 19 before the championships, the 2019 City of Ipswich Junior Sportsperson of the Year will be eligible to represent his country in the under-20 competition.
Thomas recently elevated his hopes of national selection by finishing third in the Open 1500m at the UQ Classic.
Most importantly in a tactical race against older runners, Thomas ran 3:47.53 to secure a qualifying time for the World Junior titles.
That came after he achieved another World Juniors qualifying standard in winning the open men's 800m event (1.50.07) at the Alana Boyd Shield meet. That was two weeks ago.
Thomas said the Australian team heading to Kenya would most likely be named after the next national titles in April.
"I've gotten the time (needed) but now it's about being the fastest of the qualifiers,'' he said, keen to improve his personal best in coming months.
With some athletes setting qualifying times likely to be too old for the World Juniors, Thomas was hoping his age worked in his favour.
"I'm at the top of the 18-year-old pile,'' he said.
"I'm just going to keep training hard.
"The 1500m time I got (in the UQ Classic), it was a tactical race. It wasn't fast at all.
"I reckon the whole field could have gone seconds faster.
"Even though I know I could go five or six seconds faster, I'm happy because I was able to compete in that sort of race and do a comfortable 3:47.''
While he's delighted to qualify in both events, Thomas said the 1500m and 5km were his preferred distances.
The 2019 Oceania championships gold medallist is also hoping to represent Australia at next year's World Athletics Cross Country Championships for open and under-20 runners in Bathurst, if they go ahead.
The national team for that is expected to be named after trials in January.
He's waiting on Athletics Australia to lock in a competition date for the cross country challenge.
"I'm pretty happy with how I've been training,'' Thomas said.
"I'm looking to break some Queensland records. By the end of next year, I want to get the 1500m, 5km and 3km records.''
He has the Queensland 5000m Championships next month to continue his impressive progress.
The Karalee athlete was also pleased to see good friend Alex Davies recently set a massive personal best (3:54.07) in winning his open men's B division 1500m race.
Davies displayed some fantastic frontrunning form in his terrific success.
Former St Edmund's College students Thomas and Davies started their athletic careers with coach Brad Robinson at the Ipswich and District Athletic Club (IDAC) in 2015.
"I didn't know much about running back then,'' Thomas said. "So I wanted to get into a strong local club.''
From the encouragement received from Robinson, he has risen through the ranks to now be a star performer with Ipswich's NANCI running squad under the eye of astute coach Peter Reeves.
Seeing Thomas and Davies producing consistent performances at elite level highlights the importance of gaining confidence in grassroots sport at clubs like the IDAC.