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.

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